An Idiots Guide to Highway Driving

The only word you need to remember in order to learn to drive safely on the highway, STAR. These letters stand for See, Think, Act, and React. If you remember these rules, you will be able to take your guide to highway driving with you wherever you may drive. Preparation is the key to a safe and happy driving experience. Be sure to never get into your car to drive without it.

1 – See

You need to be able to see what is going on around you in order to be an effective driver. This means not taking your eyes off the road and your surroundings in order to do other things in your vehicle such as texting, adjusting the radio, or looking at a passenger. Be sure your dashboard is cleared of all obstacles, including decorative items hanging from the rear view mirror. The rear portion of the vehicle should be free from any items which obstruct the driver’s view out the rear window or the rear side windows. It can be difficult to assess the location or proximity of a vehicle that is on either side and having obstacles obstructing the view makes it even more difficult.

2 – Think

It is equally important that you be thinking about the task of driving. If you are looking at the road but talking to a friend on a wireless headset or thinking about what you want to have for dinner you can become distracted. You will know this is happening if you find you are unable to recall portions of your trip once you reach your destination. If you find you regularly do this you are not thinking about driving while you are behind the wheel and you need to improve this skill. Until you are able to keep your mind on the task of driving consider setting goals for yourself such as reading the license plates of the vehicles you encounter, or attempting some other form of memory or observation game. While it may not be as much fun to do these things by yourself it will help build your concentration.

3 – Act

Assuming you generally keep your eyes and thoughts on the road, you are halfway to becoming a safe driver. Next, you need to be sure to be sure your actions are safe as well. It is important then, to keep your hands on the wheel. Many people find themselves driving with one hand, or even a knee. This is not safe. You should keep both hands on the wheel unless you are shifting gears. Driving while smoking, eating, or talking on a cell phone all reduce your ability to act effectively as a driver. In addition to proper driving technique you must also remember that your actions are the only way you have of communicating your intentions to other motorists. If you plan on making a turn, be sure to signal and apply pressure to your breaks early enough to allow other drivers to prepare and respond to your actions. Failing to signal when making a turn is not only frustrating for other drivers, it can also be quite dangerous for all parties.

4 – React

Even if you are being vigilant of your surroundings, concentrating on the task at hands, and acting appropriately, chances are other drivers you will encounter will not be behaving as well. Therefore, the final thing to remember is to be prepared to react to other drivers. You may need to adjust your speed, change lanes, go to the shoulder of the road, or speed up depending on how other motorists are driving. Reacting to a dangerous driver may be the only thing that prevents you from being involved in a car accident.

By remembering the STAR guide to highway driving, and implementing the steps outlined for each letter, you will improve your driving ability and reduce your risk of being involved in an accident or avoid getting an unwanted traffic ticket. Even if you are an exemplary driver, you will have to contend with other drivers who may not be as prepared as you. Because of this, even the best drivers may eventually find themselves in an unavoidable accident and if this happens, remember to call the authorities for assistance at the scene. Do not agree to exchange information and call the authorities later. You do not want a ticket for leaving the scene of an accident.

Resources
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Texas Department of Transportation
Department of Transportation

Image Credits: http://www.flickr.com/photos/squeaks2569/5180260526/

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