Driving on the freeway for the first time may feel like entering an alternate universe. Vehicles whiz by, and everything can seem like watching a film in fast forward. Navigating this driving situation successfully requires practice, attentiveness, and finesse.
In this article, Method 1 describes the steps to master before ever exiting onto the freeway. Method 2 outlines proper highway etiquette and how to avoid an accident.
Method 1 of 2: Building skills off the freeway
Step 1: Become familiar with driving basics. Just as babies must crawl before they walk, you must be able to drive well in less stressful environments before tackling the freeway.
Practice driving in quiet neighborhoods and other areas with low traffic until you feel comfortable.
Step 2: Up the ante by moving to higher traffic areas. As you build your skills in low traffic, gradually begin testing the waters in higher traffic.
This gives you the opportunity to practice being attentive to what other drivers are doing and be defensive in your driving to avoid accidents.
Step 3: Practice changing lanes and passing vehicles. Being able to change lanes and pass slower vehicles are skills necessary for freeway driving.
Through practice, basics like using turn signals, using mirrors, overcoming blind spots, and learning to pass slow vehicles legally (not exceeding the speed limit) will become second nature.
Method 2 of 2: Highway to speedy proficiency
Step 1: Accelerate to the speed limit before merging into freeway traffic. Turn your blinker on to punctuate your intention to join the crowd, and look for oncoming traffic before you shift into the right-most lane.
Step 2: Drive with the flow of traffic as much as possible. If you are not accustomed to driving at higher speeds, this may be the most daunting part of freeway driving.
If two lanes are present, stay in the right-hand lane unless you must pass a slow driver. If three or more lanes are present, it is a good idea to shift into the second-to-the-right lane to prevent having to shift and allow merging traffic a space to enter.
Adopt a speed that matches the bulk of vehicles around you to prevent another vehicle from having to suddenly slam on brakes to prevent an accident.
Step 3: Use proper passing etiquette when necessary. If you do need to pass a slower vehicle, turn on your blinker. Look before you move to the lane to the left.
Accelerate enough to pass the slower vehicle without exceeding the speed limit. Then, turn your blinker back on before returning one lane to the right in front of the slower vehicle.
Step 4: Exit the freeway with care. Use your blinker to indicate to other drivers your intention to exit the freeway, and do not begin slowing down until you are fully in the exit ramp.
Gradually bring your speed down to posted speed limit, and congratulate yourself on your first successful freeway driving experience.
- Tip: Choose a lower-traffic time for your first freeway experience. Avoid 7am to 9am when people are driving to work and 4pm to 6pm when many drivers are going home.
Driving on freeways for novice drivers can be nerve-wracking in the beginning, but - like most things in life - it gets easier with practice. Do your best to prepare by building a solid driving foundation, then try to stay calm yet alert when you move on to the real thing. Once you have this skill mastered, you will be able to reach many destinations more quickly.