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Safety tips on highway driving

  • Published
  • By Courtesy Story
  • Texas Department of Transportation
When driving on the highway, motorists need to consider a lot of variables. Speed limits, learning how to share the road, passing emergency vehicles and avoiding fatigue are just a few factors that should be controlled when operating a vehicle safely.

The maximum daytime speed limit on most interstate and state highways in Texas is 70 mph. At night, the maximum speed limit is 65 mph. In some areas, the speed limit may even be higher because of fewer people traveling on certain roads. Knowing the speed limit will help motorists negotiate highway travel more safely.

However, observing speed limits mean more than just driving faster or slower than the posted speed. A driver should adjust their speed according to the current conditions; especially when it is raining, foggy, ice on the road or road construction ahead.

Just as important as speed, proper lane usage is necessary to help make highway driving safe.

Signs on Texas multi-lane highways that read "left lane for passing only" let motorists know that the left lane on a divided highway is not a fast lane. Rather, it is a passing lane. This lane should be used only to pass a vehicle. Once the vehicle is safely cleared, the motorist is expected to move back into the right lane. Continuing to drive in the left lane is punishable by a fine of up to $200.

When using proper lanes, the motorist may find themselves sharing a road with a truck. Trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds and may need up to 100 yards to stop. By observing the following tips, a driver will be in a safer position to share the road with a truck:

· Maintain a safe following distance. There should be at least a two second interval from when the vehicle in front of a motorist passes a fixed object and when the motorist passes it.
· Don't squeeze between trucks and a curb. Trucks make wide right turns and the driver may not see all present vehicles.
· When passing a truck, don't move back into the lane occupied by the truck until both truck headlights are visible in the driver's rearview mirror.
· Be aware of a truck's blind spots: drive up to 20 feet in front of the tractor, anywhere along the sides of the trailer and up to 200 feet behind the trailer.
· Never cross behind a truck that is backing up.

In addition to trucks, emergency vehicles with flashing lights also require special attention. State law requires a motorist to move one lane away from the emergency vehicle or slow down 20 mph below the posted speed limit. Failure to comply with this law could result in a fine of up to $200.

It is important for motorists to follow the guidelines, or laws, of safe highway driving.

These tips, or laws, need to be combined with a driver's awareness of their level of fatigue in order to be effective. If a motorist drifts between lanes, eyes close or go out of focus, they can't stop yawning or their thoughts wander, then they qualify as a "drowsy driver" and can do the following items to stay awake.

· Get plenty of rest before the trip.
· Get out of the vehicle and stretch their legs every two hours.
· Rest for 15 to 20 minutes during each stop.
· Avoid drinking between midnight and 6 a.m.
· Don't drink and drive. Even small amounts of alcohol can impair judgment and reaction time.

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