Highway driving requires rapid acceleration to build up speed over as short a time as possible to minimize the difference in speed with other vehicles. It is very important that you have a good judgment of the amount of time you need to safely enter the highway and that it matches the amount of time you have.
Some things to remember while highway driving:
- It takes a longer time to stop from higher speeds.
- Some drivers who have been driving for a number of hours can develop "highway hypnosis." They may not see your brake lights or turn signal. Be prepared to make your movements obvious and for a potential slow reaction by other drivers.
- The higher the speed, the less the steering wheel needs to be turned and the sooner it must be turned prior to a curve, in order to get the vehicle around the curve.
- Do not make any sudden movements of the steering wheel.
- It is safest to drive at the same speed as the other traffic, provided that the other traffic is driving at a sensible speed for the conditions and within the speed limit.
On a long trip you can use the cruise control, if your vehicle is so equipped, to keep your speed constant. Cruise control will save gas and make highway driving less demanding. However, there are times when you should not use cruise control, such as in urban areas, on wet or slippery roads, in traffic where the speed is highly variable or in any situation where your vision is restricted.
Restricted access freeways
A freeway is a multi-lane, divided highway, with restricted access. There should be no cyclists, pedestrians or hitchhikers. It is important to note that the Trans-Canada Highway, Regina's Ring Road and Saskatoon's Circle Drive are freeways.
Entering a freeway
The key to entering a freeway is to increase your speed in the acceleration lane until it matches the speed of the vehicles already on the freeway.
You also need to plan your merge:
- While on the entrance ramp, look at the freeway traffic and determine where you want to merge.
- Build up your speed in the acceleration lane as quickly as you can.
- Continue to check the spot where you want to merge.
- Signal, make your final shoulder check and accelerate into the freeway lane. Merging at less than freeway speeds can be dangerous.
Watch Now: Entering a freeway
While on the freeway
Provide a safe merge for other vehicles entering the freeway from access ramps by either moving left to free the right lane or by adjusting your speed.
Drive in the right lane, or perhaps the centre lane, when there are three lanes. The left lane is for passing or may be used by faster vehicles when the traffic is dense.
Keep looking up and referencing down to 12 seconds ahead so that you have advance notice of any obstacles in your path. Maintain a three-second following distance and keep at least two gates open at all times.
When driving conditions are not ideal, you should decrease your speed on the freeway accordingly to maintain safe travel.
Leaving a freeway
When leaving a freeway, signal your intention and move into the deceleration lane. Slow down in the deceleration lane, not on the freeway. Some deceleration lanes are shorter than others, so watch your speed. When you exit a freeway, you are likely to underestimate your speed when you slow down.
Watch Now: Leaving a freeway
If you miss an exit
If you miss an exit, do not stop on the freeway. Do not back up on the freeway. Continue to the next interchange and return to the correct exit.
Emergencies on the freeway
If your vehicle starts to give you trouble, check your mirrors, signal, shoulder check and pull over onto the nearest shoulder as quickly and safely as possible. Slow down, put on your emergency flashers and stop on the shoulder as far right as possible.
Never stop your car on the travelled portion of the freeway. Do not wait for your car to stall on the freeway. At the first sign of trouble, pull over safely. If possible, stay with your car. If you must cross the freeway on foot, use extreme caution.
Turn on your four-way flashers or raise the hood to alert other motorists you need assistance. Be especially careful getting out of your car when stopped along a freeway. If necessary, exit from the door away from the traffic.
In some cities, you may encounter roadways that have some characteristics of a freeway and some characteristics of a normal street. Be alert for unexpected traffic patterns.