At first glance, freeway driving seems relatively simple: there are no intersections, stoplights or pedestrians. The chance of getting into a collision on a freeway is slim – and yet, the collisions that do happen on these roadways cause more vehicle and damage due to higher speeds.
If driving on an unfamiliar freeway has you feeling a little anxious about your upcoming car rental trip, don't worry. The following driving safety tips will help you prepare for the various challenges of freeway driving.
Merging with Traffic
The most difficult part of freeway driving involves entering and exiting traffic via on- and off-ramps. When entering the freeway in your car rental, remember to accelerate to the speed of traffic before merging. It's important to note that the speed of traffic may not be the same as the posted speed limit. For example, during rush hour the speed could be significantly slower.
When exiting the freeway, it's important to continuing traveling at the speed of traffic until you're vehicle is fully in the exit lane. You can then begin to decelerate.
Who Has the Right of Way?
Many car rental travelers are surprised to learn that drivers already on the freeway have the right of way. As such, it's up to you to get up to their speed before attempting to merge. With that being said, it's the responsibility of the drivers on the freeway to make it safer for traffic to merge. You can do this by adjusting your speed or making a lane change to provide ample space for the merging vehicle.
Keep Your Distance
Once you've successfully merged your rental car with traffic on the freeway, it's time to assess the space around your vehicle. The faster your car rental travels, the more time and space it will need to come to a complete stop. As such, it is recommended that you leave at least three seconds between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you (that's roughly 240 feet).
There are several ways to assess the space between vehicles on a freeway. If you're traveling roughly 55/mph, the average speed limit of most North American highways, you should try to leave a minimum of six car lengths between your car rental and the vehicle in front of you (two car lengths is the equivalent of one second when traveling at this speed).
You can also watch the lane divider marks in order to gauge your distance. If you count three to four white divider lines between you and the vehicle in front, you are roughly one to two seconds behind that vehicle.
Maintaining the Distance to the Side of Your Car Rental
If you're traveling in your car rental on a multi-lane freeway, it's recommended that you maintain one to two car lengths with the vehicles beside you. This way, if the driver next to you decides to make a lane change without checking, you won't be in any immediate danger. You want to make sure that you leave enough space for your vehicle or the vehicle next to you to swerve safely.
How to Change Lanes Safely
Changing lanes on the freeway is surprisingly easy. The important thing to remember is maintaining your speed. Since traffic is moving quickly and at a constant speed, it's important to keep your speed up when changing lanes. Keep your foot on the gas to ensure a smooth transition. Remember: you're passing the vehicle because you're traveling faster than they are. Slowing down once you've passed them will only cause the driver behind you to become frustrated.
Don't let freeway driving frustration keep you from traveling in your car rental. Reserve your vehicle with Car Rental Express today.