Parking Dealing with particular situations

Freeway driving

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A freeway also called an expressway is a high-speed, multi-lane road. On a freeway, traffic going in each direction is separated and special ramps let vehicles enter and exit. Vehicles travel faster on a freeway than on other roads, so driving can be more demanding and difficult. However, because there are no intersections, bicycles or pedestrians, freeway driving can be safer for experienced drivers.

New drivers need to learn how to drive with other vehicles around them at low speeds before trying freeway driving. Class G1 drivers may only drive on freeways with a licensed driving instructor.

Entering a freeway

Illustration of vehicle entering freeway

There are usually two parts to a freeway entrance: an entrance ramp and an acceleration lane. In this lane, drivers raise their speed to the common speed of traffic on the freeway before they merge with it.

As you move along the freeway entrance ramp, look ahead and check your mirrors and blind spots to assess the traffic to see where you will move into the nearest freeway lane.

As you leave the ramp and enter the acceleration lane, signal and increase your speed to merge smoothly with traffic. Freeway drivers should move over, if it is safe to do so, leaving room for merging vehicles.

A few entrance ramps join the freeway on the left. This means you enter the fastest lane of traffic first. Use the acceleration lane to match your speed to the traffic, increasing your speed more quickly.

Driving along a freeway

Once on the freeway, a good safety-conscious driver moves at a steady speed, looking forward and anticipating what's going to happen on the road ahead. Traffic should keep to the right, using the left lanes for passing.

As in city driving, your eyes should be constantly moving, scanning the road ahead, to each side and behind. Look ahead to where you are going to be in the next 15 to 20 seconds, or as far ahead as you can see, when you travel at faster speeds. Remember to keep scanning and check your mirrors frequently.

Stay clear of large vehicles. Because of their size, they block your view more than other vehicles. Leave space around your vehicle. This will let you see clearly in every direction and will give you time and space to react.

Be careful not to cut off any vehicle, large or small, when making a lane change or joining the flow of traffic. It is dangerous and illegal for a slower moving vehicle to cut in front of a faster moving vehicle.

Use the far left lane of a multi-lane freeway to pass traffic moving slower than the speed limit, but don't stay there. Drive in the right-hand lane when possible. On many freeways with three or more lanes in each direction, trucks cannot travel in the far left lane and must use the lane to the right for passing. Get into the habit of driving in the right lane, leaving the other lanes clear for passing.

Leaving a freeway

Illustration d'un véhicule quittant l'autoroute

There are usually three parts to a freeway exit: a lane for slowing down that leads drivers out of the main flow of traffic, an exit ramp and an intersection with a stop sign, a yield sign or traffic light.

When leaving the freeway, signal that you want to move into the slowing lane, but do not slow down. When you are in the lane, reduce your speed gradually to the speed shown for the exit ramp. Check your speedometer to make sure you are going slowly enough. You may not realize how fast you are going because you are used to the high speed of the freeway. Be prepared to stop at the end of the exit ramp.

Signs tell you that there are freeway exits ahead far enough in advance for you to make any lane changes safely. If you miss an exit, do not stop or reverse on the freeway. Take the next exit.

Highway hypnosis

Driving for a long time can be boring, especially at night or when you drive at the same speed for long distances. You can become "hypnotized" where everything seems to float by and you pay less attention to what is happening around you. You may even fall asleep.

You can help prevent highway hypnosis by following a few simple rules:

  1. Don't eat a heavy meal before you drive.
  2. Wear comfortable clothing.
  3. Talk with your passengers, but not to the point of distraction.
  4. Keep your eyes moving and check your mirrors often.
  5. Take an interest in all road signs and traffic around you.
  6. Take a coffee or walking break every hour.
  7. Don't try to drive too far in one day.
  8. Avoid driving during your normal sleeping hours.
  9. Keep the temperature in your vehicle cool.

If you do start to become drowsy, do something different immediately. Open a window; talk to passengers; sing out loud; move your body around a bit.

Stop at the next service centre or rest area and take a short walk or have a coffee and eat a light snack. If you don't feel any more alert, find a place to sleep for an hour or for the night.

© 2003 Queen's Printer for Ontario

* Attention New Drivers - Find out How to get the lowest auto Insurance rates

Parking Dealing with particular situations