Highway Driving Tips for Safe and Smooth Travel

For safe highway driving, make sure you’re driving distraction-free, always signaling, and maintaining a safe distance.
Written by Andrew Mata
Reviewed by Carrie Adkins
For the safety of everyone on the road, it’s important to follow safe highway driving tips like limiting distractions, maintaining a safe distance, and using your turn indicator whenever you need to merge. 
Varying speed limits, in-car distractions, and aggressive motorists are just a few issues that may cause you to fret about driving on the highway. That’s why
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Whether you’re a brand-new driver or an experienced traveler looking to brush up on safe practices, here’s how to make your journey as safe and smooth as possible.
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Make sure you are comfortable

Before starting the car, make sure you are comfortably situated for a long drive.  Take any bulky items, like your wallet or phone, out of your pockets, and set them in a safe place within your car.
Also, try your best to set your air conditioning to a comfortable setting before you get on the highway.

Limit distractions and noise

You’ll need to stay as focused as possible while driving on the highway. 
Before you put your smartphone in a safe place, set it to Do Not Disturb or Driving mode so that it won’t make any noise with incoming notifications. Many devices will do this for you when it detects that you are driving, but it’s best to double-check. 
If you plan on listening to music, pick your playlist or radio station beforehand, and make sure that the volume isn’t too loud. This will help you remain focused and alert.

Learn how to merge

Merging correctly is a skill that takes some practice, but it’s essential for safe driving! Here are the basics of merging onto the highway:
  • Accelerate on the entrance ramp to match the speed of the highway traffic
  • Turn on your turn signal
  • Use your mirrors and quickly glance over your shoulder to assess the traffic next to you
  • Once you see a gap, merge into traffic, making sure that you don’t cut off other drivers
When you know the right way to merge, you’ll become more confident in highway driving, and your trip will be much more pleasant. 

Always signal

Always use your signal (indicator) lights when merging onto the highway, changing lanes, or exiting. This lets other drivers know your intent and will help keep you safe as you navigate the highway. 
Keep in mind that you want other drivers to have a chance to see your signal, too—wait about five seconds after signaling before you make your move. 
Key Takeaway: Signal early so that other drivers have enough time to react. 

Maintain a safe distance

Allow plenty of space between your car and the other cars on the road. This will give you more time to react to other drivers and make changing lanes and exiting the highway much easier. 
To help you maintain a safe distance, stay about three to six seconds away from the car in front of you. You can measure the distance by identifying an upcoming road sign and counting the seconds between when the first car passes and when your car passes the sign.  
If there’s bad weather, you’ll want to increase that distance even more, just to be safe. 

Stay in the right lane

This highway driving tip is often given to new drivers, but even experienced drivers can make use of the right lane for smoother travel. If you’re on a multi-lane highway, staying in the right lane after you’ve merged will make exiting much easier. 
Keep in mind that the left lane should only be used for passing, especially if you’re on a four-lane highway. Staying in the left lane otherwise can disrupt the flow of traffic. 
Key Takeaway: If you’re unfamiliar with a stretch of highway, use the right lane until you feel comfortable.

Have the right insurance and roadside assistance

Following these driving tips can help keep you safe on the road, but unfortunately, there may still be unexpected situations that arise. That’s why it’s important to have the right car insurance policy to keep you protected during all kinds of emergencies. 
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Practice driving on highways during slow times to build up your experience before you drive at peak hours.
First, you should never stop your vehicle in the middle of a highway. If you need to stop and you can’t safely exit the highway, pull over on the shoulder and turn on your hazard lights 
Additionally, you should never drive on the shoulder. This area needs to be a safe place for motorists to stop. 
Finally, don’t text while driving—nothing on your phone is as important as maintaining your focus on the road. 
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