Depending on where you live, you might travel on highways on a daily basis. If this is the case, you’ve likely seen a number of negligent drivers on the road. When drivers are unaware of how to drive on a highway, they can cause serious accidents. Part of understanding how to operate on freeways involves recognizing how the different lanes work and which lanes are the most dangerous to drive in.
Lane Selection on High-Speed Roadways
Part of what makes driving on highways so dangerous is that not all drivers are aware of how the different lanes are supposed to function. On a typical freeway, there are five types of lanes: the acceleration lane, merging area, through lane, passing lane, and deceleration lane.
The acceleration lane is typically a ramp that leads up to the highway. This allows drivers to get up to speed, so they’re not traveling considerably slower than the traffic already on the freeway. Once they’re up to speed, they should be in the merging lane. Here, it’s crucial to check the vehicle’s blind spots, use the turn signal, and allow a three- to four-second gap in traffic to move into the through lane safely. Drivers should never stop on the merging ramp, as they risk getting into a collision with other merging drivers.
Once a driver has safely maneuvered into the through lane, they should travel at a consistent speed with the flow of traffic. On highways with more than two driving lanes, the lanes in the middle of the left and right are considered the through lanes. In the event a driver needs to pass, they should use their blinker and follow the same merging instructions to get into the passing lane on the left. Once they have passed, moving back over to the through lane is crucial, as it’s possible there are other drivers waiting to pass.
When it’s time to exit a freeway, the majority of exit ramps are on the right. When this is the case, a driver should make sure they are in the far right lane prior to their exit coming up. Well in advance, it’s important to signal the intended exit, so other drivers are prepared. It’s important to never slow down until off the freeway. A driver should only slow down once they’ve entered the deceleration lane. If a driver misses an exit, they must travel to the next one and double back. Backing up or crossing a median on a highway is illegal.
The Dangers of the Merging Lane
While merging might seem like a straightforward maneuver, it’s one of the leading causes of accidents. That is why the merging lane on the highway is the most dangerous to drive in. According to the United States Department of Transportation, there are approximately 300,000 merging accidents every year. Approximately 50,000 of those crashes result in fatalities.
In order to understand why merging is so dangerous, it’s important to recognize the most common merging accidents.
- Side-Swipe Accidents. If a merging driver fails to see a vehicle traveling in a through lane until they’ve already begun to merge, they may panic, overcorrect, and strike the side of the other vehicle with the side of their car. This can lead to either driver losing complete control.
- Rear-End Collisions. When a merging driver misjudges how fast they need to go or how much room they need to get over, they could hit the back of the vehicle in front of them or get hit from behind.
- Blind Spot Crashes. Every vehicle has blind spots. Typically, the larger the vehicle, the larger the blind spot. It’s important for a driver to understand where their blind spots are and to be extra cautious when merging to ensure they aren’t missing a nearby vehicle.
- Override Wrecks. When a motorist merges too quickly in front of a large commercial vehicle, the trucker may not have enough time to slow down or stop, especially while traveling at high speeds. As a result, the truck might drive over the smaller vehicle. These accidents are usually fatal.
If you’ve been injured in an accident on a highway that you believe was the result of another driver’s negligence, you can file a personal injury claim and seek compensation for your losses. When you work with our lawyers, we will build a strong case that proves you suffered wrongfully. You shouldn’t have to deal with medical expenses and other costs on your own. To find out more about your legal option, contact us today.