Lesson 10: Stay Safe (and Sane) on Highways - National Safety Council

Lesson 10: Stay Safe (and Sane) on Highways

Though they might seem common to us, highways are challenging environments for new teen drivers. Picture it: speeding cars packed into a few lanes, where the situations change suddenly with little room for error. Your teen will eventually need to practice in these scenarios, but he or she first needs to know what to prepare for and avoid.

Following Distance

Does your teen know how long it takes to bring a vehicle to a full stop? On highways, traffic can go from high speeds to dead stops without much warning, putting your teen, and the drivers ahead and behind, at risk. The best way to prevent this is to have your teen drive slow and increase the following distance between vehicles. Teach your teen to leave several car-lengths clear ahead on the highway, and if other vehicles merge into this space, have your teen slow down to regain this room.

High Speeds

It’s a simple truth that people drive fast on the highway, and they tend to get frustrated when you don’t do the same. Though drivers often say, ‘I was just going with the flow of traffic,’ your teen should know that this is not a valid excuse. The simple layout of a highway goes like this: faster speeds in the left lane for passing, slower speeds on the right. Teach your teen to stick to the center lanes, where he or she won’t be in the way of drivers going too fast, or those using the exit and entrance ramps. This way your teen can stick to the speed limit and keep an eye on the surrounding lanes for potential hazards.

Practice: Highways are dangerous areas for inexperienced teens, so start off by driving on them with your teen in the car. Though it may not be fun, drive during a busy time so your teen can see how traffic changes suddenly on busy roads. Once your teen’s skills have grown, give him or her a chance to drive on the highway at a slower time. Be patient and offer additional advice whenever your teen drives in these particularly stressful scenarios.

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