Driving basics for Highway

Driving on highway is enjoyable but can be dangerous if you do not know the rules or fail to take precautions. Since the impact and consequent damage to man and machine can be very high, it calls for observance of some basic driving safety rules as cited below:

Check tyres and wheels
The condition of tyre and air pressure play a vital role while driving on highway. Do not under or over inflate tyres during long drives. Tyres are manufactured to sustain high air pressure gained during long drives. Check the recommended air pressure in all tyres including the spare one, before you start driving for the day.

If you intend to go on a long drive, wheel alignment and balancing should also be done for smoother and safer drives. Worn out tyres should also be changed at all cost before undertaking highway drives since tyres heat up and wear out fast that result in bursting of tyres on high speed, leading to fatal accidents.

Merge with high speed traffic
While connecting on to a highway, smoothly flowout from the city road following the extreme left lane to merge with the high speed traffic on the highway. Initially, keep on the extreme left lane. Maintain a speed under which the vehicle is fully under your control. On Indian highways, speed ranging between 60 km and 90 km per hour is considered to be safe. Obey all traffic signs put up on the highway.

Follow correct lane
The basic rule on a 4-lane dual carriageway (2 up + 2 down highway with a median or divider at the middle) is to drive along the left lane of the highway – leaving the right lane free for vehicles with higher speeds to overtake your vehicle.

In case of a 6-lane dual carriageway (3 up + 3 down), the left lane is meant for slow moving heavy vehicles and the middle lane for fast moving light vehicles. The extreme right lane is meant only for overtaking and not for continuous driving. Go on to the right lanes only to overtake and return to middle lane after overtaking.

Do not unnecessarily swerve or change lanes. Indicate your intention of changing lanes with light signals and do it gradually over a long stretch.

Keep safe distance
Maintain a gap/distance of at least 1 car per 15 km/hour of speed, with the car ahead of you. For example, while driving at a speed of 60 km/hour, keep a distance of at least 4 cars ahead of you. This would help you to avoid any sudden breaking or slowing down by the car ahead.

Overtaking
Try to overtake only from the right. However, if you are forced to overtake from the left, keep enough gap from the vehicle overtaken.

During day time, before overtaking, blow horn to signal the vehicle in front. During any stage of overtaking, if you feel there is a constraint, refrain from overtaking. Do not take chances on highways.

After overtaking, return to your lane after approximately 25 metre ahead of the car overtaken.

Give way to vehicles overtaking you from the right and be careful of vehicles wrongly overtaking you from the left too.

Parking
Do not park your car on the main carriageway or the tarmac. Look out for a safe parking bay or run-off areas adjacent to the main thoroughfare to park your car. Put on the flasher/hazard light both during day or night if you do not park inside highway parking bays. Do not park at turns, bends or bridges.

Managing fatigue
Highway driving needs alertness at the highest level. Fatigue from long spells of driving can hamper your reflex and judgment. If you feel fatigued or drowsy, slow down and halt. Take a break. Go out of your vehicle and stretch for a while. Drink water or tea if available before resuming your journey on the highway again.

PRECAUTIONS DURING HIGHWAY driving

  • Wearing seat belts are a must for safety. Even if the law requires seat belts only for the front seaters, it is safer to put on seat belts for all.
  • Always focus on the road ahead. Never look towards other passengers or backwards while driving on a highway.
  • Do not play music very loudly, which may block the sound of horns of cars overtaking from behind or noises caused by mechanical faults of your own car.
  • Do not compete with other vehicles or show off your driving skills to fellow passengers.
  • Do not get into any altercation or emotional state with fellow passengers while driving, which may distract your attention.
  • Keep a regular watch on the dashboard instruments. In case of any deviation beyond normal specifications such as low brake oil or fuel etc., attend to the requirements immediately. Halt to ask for availability of your requirement from locals.
  • Watch out for stray animals on the highway. Slow down and manoeuvre cautiously to drive past them. Bigger animals such as cows, buffaloes and goats generally move ahead to the front only, while smaller ones such as dogs or hens are unpredictable and may turn around.
  • Do not expect other road users to always behave judiciously and observe the traffic or driving rules on highways. Act with utmost alertness to avoid situation arising out of their ignorance.

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