Driving defensively not only consists of obeying the rules of the road but is about paying close attention to your surroundings and adapting to road conditions when necessary. These defensive driving skills are essential for student drivers to learn, especially when driving on highways.
Driving on the highway can be worrying and stressful for the first few times but being prepared with proper highway knowledge can most likely help with the transition. Merging onto a highway can be daunting for novice drivers but with a bit of practice and defensive driving, you will be up for the task in no time. Remember to keep in mind these safety merging tips:
One of the most important highway merging safety tips is to match the speed of the other drivers. You can do this by having a look at the other drivers and using the entrance ramp and acceleration lane to help increase your speed. The entrance ramp can assist in giving you time to match the current flow of traffic.
Look for Open Spaces in Traffic
When merging, you will want to check for gaps in traffic. Check your mirrors, blind spots and the road in front of you to know when it is safe to merge. Don’t forget to signal to notify drivers of your intents. If it’s safe to do so, vehicles already on the highway can move over to make room for merging vehicles. Make sure you pay attention to the drivers around you and create some space as you may need to react fast if someone tries to enter your lane or if the vehicle in front of you brakes.
A good rule of thumb for merging is to look at other drivers and see how they are behaving. For instance, if you notice a vehicle behind you slowing down, it may be because they are attempting to let you merge ahead of them or if you notice a vehicle speeding up, it may mean they do not want to let you in ahead of them. Drivers may also communicate with you by waving with their hands to let you merge in front of them. If a driver does let you in, it’s common courtesy to move into the spot as quickly as you can.
Merging onto a highway for beginners requires a solid amount of concentration. Eliminate distractions such as turning down the music, avoiding multitasking and not looking at your smartphone. Distracted driving is extremely dangerous and has serious consequences. All Canadian provinces have bans on using cellphones or hand-held electronic devices while driving. Some penalties can occur such as hefty fines, demerit points, license suspension and jail time.
While you may be new to highway driving, other drivers on the road don’t know that. Believe in yourself and be confident in your merging abilities. Try to avoid any hesitation and second guessing as that can lead to slamming the brakes and a possible car collision.
Continue to follow these tips to merge securely and drive safely. With Desjardins Insurance, students can save up to 10 per cent on their car insurance. For more information on student rates contact one of our licensed insurance advisors.