Driving on the Highway for the First Time

Driving on the Highway for the First Time: What You Need to Know

Driving on the highway for the first time can be both exhilarating and terrifying, whether you’re a seasoned driver used to the quieter and less busy street roads or just recently got your license to get behind the wheel. Besides the stirring feeling of freedom, you’ll merge with oncoming traffic and driving at relatively higher speeds.

Although the experience can initially be intimidating, learning a few highway-driving techniques and tips will ease your mind, boost your confidence, keep you safer, and guarantee a more satisfying first-time highway-driving experience.

Contrary to many misconceptions, driving on a freeway for the first time only requires basic driving knowledge and skill, extra caution, a nudge of courage, and some practice to perfect. Surprisingly, you might find driving on the highway easier and more gratifying than local roads once you settle into the experience.

First-time Highway Driving Techniques and Tips

Safety should be your foremost concern if you’re getting behind the wheel on the highway for the first time. The following tips will not only keep you and your vehicle safe but also help you conquer those highway lanes quickly:

  1. Ensure your car is in perfect condition

The last thing you want on your first highway-driving venture is for your car to stall in the middle of the highway. Besides risking your life and that of others on the road, a car breakdown on your first cruise on the highway can send your confidence down the drain. To prevent this, take your vehicle for servicing to ensure all systems operate optimally, including the engine, brakes, transmission, battery, lights, turn indicators, and windshield wipers.

Further, equip and carry a car emergency kit with a first-aid kit, toolbox, spare tire, hazard warning triangle, and a flashlight.

  1. Choose the best time of day

When planning your first highway drive, you must settle for a time when visibility is clear, and the roads are the least busy so that you’ll have few distractions, cars, and drivers. Naturally, the safest time to practice driving on the highway for the first time is on a clear, sunny, and dry day when you can see far and around your vehicle. Heavy downpours, snow, and ice limit visibility and make highway driving more precarious. Further, avoid the rush hour, typically between 6 Am-and 9 Am and 4 Pm-7 Pm, when the roads are most likely crammed with traffic.

  1. Map out your route beforehand

As eager as you are to hit the highway for the first time, prior route planning is integral to your safety and success. Chart out the route you intend to drive and download a reliable navigation map app to guide you along the cruise so you don’t get lost. Apps with verbal directions are more convenient because they limit the time you take your eyes off the road. Moreover, remember to carry a travel charger and power bank, as navigation apps often drain batteries faster.

  1. Smoothly merge with the highway traffic

Merging with the highway traffic from the entry ramp is often the most challenging and terrifying part of highway driving. Here’s an easy way to go about it:

  • Drive on the left highway entrance ramp toward the highway
  • Pick up your speed as you drive off the ramp onto the highway to match the speed of the highway traffic so that other drivers on the highway don’t slow down to let you get in.
  • Turn on your left blinker (turn signal) to indicate your intent to merge with the highway traffic
  •  Keep a keen eye on your left side mirror and blind spot to ensure no vehicles are in the immediate vicinity before turning into the highway. Remember to yield to the drivers on the road, as you don’t have the right of way when trying to merge.
  • Once the coast is clear, merge onto the right highway lane and accelerate to match the highway traffic speed.
  • Turn off your left turn indicator.
  1. Stay on the right lane

The right lane is typically the slowest, as is the merge lane on highways, freeways, and interstates. Thus, keeping right until you’re comfortable driving on the highway is best. Besides, changing to the center and left lanes would force you to drive faster than you’re accustomed to, as they’re reserved for passing traffic. In most cases, highway exit ramps are also situated off the right lane.

Extra Tips for Safe and Effective First-time Highway Driving

On top of the techniques above, follow these tips to make your first drive on the highway safer and more rewarding:

  • Always use turn signal indicators correctly when merging and switching lanes on the highway
  • Allow yourself sufficient time and space when changing lanes to prevent collisions and evade debris on the road
  • Keep a safe following distance behind the vehicles in front so you have sufficient time and space to react to any situation.
  • Observe the set speed limits.
  • If you must, change lanes smoothly and safely and use your rearview and side mirrors accordingly
  • Stay  sharp and cautious.
  • Keep your cool, be patient, and remain level-headed. Avoid aggressive behavior, such as unnecessary honking and tailgating.
  • Keep your focus on the road and limit distractions such as eating, mobile phone use, drinking, smoking, tuning the car music system, applying makeup, talking to passengers, and operating the climate control.
  • Maintain a broad viewpoint and pay keen attention to your surroundings
  • Avoid driving when intoxicated, impaired, or fatigued
  • Take periodic breaks to stretch, freshen up, and eat

Share your location with a trusted family member or colleague who can send help if you experience undue delay or other challenges on the highway.

Contact Yusra Driving School the cheapest driving school in Toronto to learn driving in Toronto.