General Reminders for Interstate Driving
Driving on the interstate can be intimidating, especially if you are a new driver or one who rarely travels on interstate highways. Generally, traffic on an interstate moves safely and smoothly. But when crashes do happen, they can be serious. So as a driver, let the following be a reminder of some basic safety rules and tips to follow to make your drive as safe as possible.
Plan ahead. Review your route and program in your destination into your mapping program or app of choice before you start. If you are taking a long drive, familiarize yourself with possible stops for food and gas along the way. Also, make sure that your car is in good condition for a long journey. Remember to not drive tired, so plan ahead.
Entering the highway can be done smoothly and safely. Make sure you bring your car up to speed in the on ramp or acceleration lane so that it matches the speed of traffic on the interstate. It is not proper to stop and wait for an opening, unless it is absolutely necessary. Begin checking traffic while you are on the entrance ramp. Use your signal and merge into the right lane of traffic in the available openings. As you merge, make sure you are traveling the same speed as interstate traffic. Continue driving at a steady speed and follow the speed limit. Remember that interstate traffic has the right of way and do not reply on other drivers to see you moving into their lane or that they will “give you space” to enter. Do not squeeze in, make sure you have a good cushion between the car behind you and the one in front.
Driving in the right hand lane. This is where you should be unless you are passing or exiting off of the interstate. If the roadway has more than two lanes in each direction, you can use the middle lane as a travel lane as well. Using the right lane as a place to begin slowing down for an exit ramp is dangerous, wait for the exit ramp to begin slowing down. Also, when you are approaching an exit ramp, stay alert for those drivers who may swerve in front of you because they are not paying attention and fearful of missing their exit.
Keep a space/distance cushion and don’t tailgate. Rear-end collisions are the most frequent type of crashes on the interstate. By keeping a cushion of space around you (in the front, to the sides, and in the rear) you have time, distance, and space to avoid hazards and mistakes other drivers may make. By checking your mirrors you will notice if other vehicles are crowding you or tailgating you. If you are being crowded, it is because of an unsafe driver who is not attentive as you. Safety experts tell us that if you are being tailgated, slow down and, if possible, move to the outside lane and allow the unsafe driver to pass you. Avoid driving along side other cars, stay in the middle of your lane and making room for others merging onto the interstate are all great tips.
Maintaining your space cushion is accomplished by maintaining your lane position, adjusting your speed to match the flow of traffic and by using your signals (communicating with other drivers) when you intend to leave your lane of travel and enter another lane.
Exiting the interstate is not always as easy as you may think. Proper planning with make you aware of where and when you need to exit. Knowing your route, using your map apps and paying attention to the exit signs will let you know how far until your exit, if you need to change lanes to exit, and exactly where to exit. On the interstate, use your blinker for 5 seconds before changing lanes and if you have to move more than one lane to get to your exit, just move one lane at a time. Be sure to adjust your speed for the exit ramp to so you will safely exit the interstate. If you miss your exit, DO NOT STOP or BACKUP!!! Simply continue driving and exit at the next exit to turn around.
If you have been involved in a crash on the interstate, or even in town, do not wait to contact us. The sooner you call, the sooner we can begin to evaluate your case and begin helping you. Louisiana law requires that you take legal action within 1 year of the date of the crash or you give up your right to recover.