BE SAFE AND ENJOY THE DRIVE
Here are the 10 points that you should keep in mind while driving in highways
A long weekend often gives a people enough time to take a road trip to a nearby destination for some rest and relaxation. Road trips entail driving on highways, often for significant periods of time. We take a look at some points that you should keep in mind when driving on highways:
Speed is one of the most over-looked aspects when it comes to highway driving. Maintaining high speeds on highway is easy, as roads are wider and traffic is generally light. If there are signs that show a speed limit of 80 kmph, use them as a guide and stick close to it. It’s also a good practice to assess road conditions and set your pace accordingly.
Switching lane is among the most important driving manoeuvres. It becomes especially crucial on highways, where most vehicles travel at higher speeds. One of the most common mistakes is driving in the wrong lane. The right-most lane. Is meant just for over-taking, but is often misused as a driving lane. A slow- moving car can be a danger here.
If you need to change your lane, make sure your give the appropriate signal, keep an eye on the differential in speed, and move only once you’re sure there’s a safe gap.
- Distance between vehicles
While driving on the highway, keep sufficient distance between your vehicle and the one in front, as it provides ample time to slow down and avoid a collision, if the person in front of your slams on the brakes. Always follow the three-second rule-look for a bridge or sign board as a reference point, and check the time you take to get there after the car in front of you passes it. It is advised to be a minimum of three seconds (longer would be preferable) when driving at night or in heavy rains of fog.
- Appropriating signaling
While you should always be aware of the movements of vehicles around you, it is equally important that you, it is equally important that you notify other motorists on the road of your movements. Always indicate when changing lanes. In case you notice a diversion or an obstraction ahead that requires you to brake suddenly, turn on your hazards well before stopping and slow down. Make sure to indicate when re-joining the highway.
Another crucial aspect of highway driving is overtaking- correct judgment and timing are the primary points of focus. When on a dual-carriage away, judge the speed of the car in front of you, and keep an eye out for vehicles in the adjoining lane or those approaching from behind.
If the way is clear, pull out from the lane and make your move. It’s advisable to drop down a gear, as it will aid in acceleration. Once you have overtaken the vehicle, and only then switch back.
On single carriage ways, follow similar steps as mentioned above, but keep an eye out for oncoming traffic. Only pull into the oncoming lane if you feel a vehicle is far enough to safely execute the maneuver.
- Check Mirrors
It is very important to check mirrors constantly. Make it a habit to glance at all the three mirrors at regular intervals, particularly if you plan to change lanes. While overtaking and changing lanes, the first thing to do is to check if a vehicle is approaching from the rear, beware of blind spots, as mirrors cannot project the entire view. You can install blind-spot mirrors, which are basically small fish eye mirrors that can be attached to the side mirrors, to give you a wider range and help reduce blind spots.
- Pit stops
Stopping at regular intervals is crucial while on long highways drives, as driver fatigue can be very dangerous, especially at highway speeds. Remember to stay hydrated and occasionally adjust the air-con. A change in temperature helps you stay in more alert. If you are too drowsy, take a quick nap by the side of the road or swap drivers if you aren’t alone. Also, avoid letting the fuel level drop below quarter tank, as fuel stations may be hard to come by in places.
- Rain/wet roads
When driving in wet conditions, restrict your speed and avoid wet patches and puddles as much as possible. Driving through pools of water at high speeds should be avoided at all costs, as it may lead to hydro planning, where in the tyres lose attraction, causing the car to spin out of control. Also, avoid braking too hard, as it can lead to your vehicle skidding off the road or into another vehicle, due to the relative lack of grip. During heavy rains, keep the headlights on even during the day, as it helps other motorists see your vehicle. Use your hazards only if you come to a stop.
- Night driving
Travelling during the night should be avoided as much as possible. However, if you must drive at night, proper visibility is essential is essential. Keep your windshield clean and make sure all the lights are working. Aim the headlights as per your seating position and makes sure you don’t set them too high, as they might disturb motorists ahead. Similarly, try not to use the high beam while overtaking, or when you are close to the vehicle ahead. Also remain alert at all times.
In the event of a breakdown, it is important to keep calm and follow these steps. Slow down gradually and move to the shoulder of the highway. The car should be parked well under the shoulder lines, with the hazard lights on. Place the hazard triangle about ten to fifteen feet behind the car to warn other motorist. Examine the damage accordingly call for assistance- it’s a good idea to have highway assistance contacts on hand or look for emergency call boxes. At night, switch on the interior lights to make the vehicle as visible as you can. Always try and stay in the vehicle until help arrive