Since freeway entrances and exits are often far apart,
planning your route in advance is important. Be
sure to carefully map your route before beginning your
trip. Learn the name, highway number and direction of
all roads you plan to take. Make sure you know
the names of the exits that come immediately before
the exit you plan to take.
When entering a freeway, make sure that the road or ramp you have selected is an
entrance ramp. "DO NOT ENTER" and "WRONG WAY" signs often warn
that such a road is an exit ramp.
Although freeways are among the nation's safest roads, they do require special skills.
Although modern freeways show many fewer accidents than surface streets, the collisions
that do occur are generally more severe due to higher speeds. These higher speeds
and increased traffic volumes often require drivers to make complex, split-second
decisions at critical moments.
As soon as you enter a freeway entrance ramp, you should begin to check traffic. This
is best accomplished with quick glances over your shoulder and into the side mirror to
find a gap in the traffic. To alert the drivers on the freeway of your intention to enter,
use your turn signals until you have successfully merged into the first through lane.
The two most common mistakes when entering the freeway are:
||Suddenly slowing or stopping.
||Merging at too slow a speed.
Always anticipate the actions of the vehicle ahead:
it may suddenly slow or stop. You should always allow
plenty of space between your vehicle and the vehicle
in front of you.
On some freeways, there is almost no entrance or acceleration
lane - the ramp takes you directly onto the freeway.
Signs may be posted for you to yield. In this
case, you will have to wait for a longer gap and accelerate
quickly in order to merge with freeway traffic.
When driving in the right hand lane of the freeway, you may notice drivers attempting
to enter the freeway. Help them by adjusting your speed and moving to the next lane. This
will create a gap for them to safely move onto the freeway.
Once on the freeway, choose the legal speed that matches the speed of traffic and is
suitable for visibility, traffic, and road conditions.
When you go faster or slower than other traffic on the freeway, you increase your
chances of having an accident.
Choosing a Lane
On a two-lane freeway, use the right lane as a cruising lane and the left lane as a
On a three-lane freeway, use the right lane as a slower lane, the middle
lane as a cruising lane, and the left-hand lane as a
When changing lanes, make sure that it is safe, and that the drivers around you are not
about to change lanes.
At freeway speeds, fast vehicles from the rear can quickly enter your blind spot.
Before moving into another lane, signal your movements in advance, and avoid any sudden
moves that could startle the drivers near you.
Check your side and rear view mirrors. Glance over your shoulder in the direction of
the lane change.
Avoid reducing speed during lane changes, since this can create a hazard for other
drivers by forcing the driver in the lane next to you to brake.
In order to avoid last minutes moves, you should anticipate hazards to come. To do
this, look down the road 10 to 15 seconds ahead of your vehicle, instead
of constantly staring at the road just in front of your car. On the highway, 10 to 15
seconds is about a quarter of a mile.
Special turnout areas are sometimes marked on two-lane roads. If necessary, you may
pull to the side in these areas and allow cars behind you to pass.
Carpool Lanes and Controlled On-Ramps
Carpooling and riding buses are good ways to save fuel, reduce the number of
vehicles on our highways, and reduce pollution.
Some freeways have special lanes and on-ramps for carpools and other High Occupancy
Vehicles (HOVs). Using a carpool or HOV lane requires a minimum of 2 or 3 people in
a vehicle, including the driver, depending on how the lane is marked.
Signs at the on-ramp or along the freeway tell you
the number of people required in your vehicle in order
to use that lane, as well as the days and hours to which
the requirement applies.
The pavement of these lanes is usually marked with a diamond shape and the word
"HOV." Some freeways may have a special lane for buses only, or that lane
may be for both buses and carpools. A bus-only lane will also be marked by the diamond
Never cross a set of double lines to enter or exit any carpool or HOV lane.
Violating the requirements of an HOV or bus lane will result in a fine of as much as
$271 in many parts of California.
Whenever you change lanes, check behind you to make sure you are not getting in the way
of cars in that lane.
Changing lanes includes:
||Changing from one lane to another.
||Entering the freeway from an on-ramp.
||Entering the road from a curb or shoulder.
Before changing lanes, always check traffic behind and beside you by:
||Checking all mirrors.
||Glancing over your left or right shoulder to make sure the
lane you want is clear. If you use only your left or inside rearview mirrors when looking
for cars, you may not see vehicles near the rear of your car because of a "blind
||Always check traffic to the sides quickly. Do not take your
eyes off the road ahead for more than an instant. Check for other cars with their turn
signals on. Someone in another lane may plan to move into the same spot you want.
When you must slow down suddenly, take a quick glance in your mirrors.
You should also check your mirrors when you are preparing to turn into a side road or
driveway, and when you are stopping to pull into a parking space.