IRMI Tip of the Month: Safe Driving on the Freeway

With auto accidents being a major cause of death in the United States, March's IRMI Tip of the Month is a refresher of safe freeway/interstate driving.

As you are aware, automobile accidents are a major cause of death in the United States. They are the single most common cause of death among children and young adults, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The NHTSA reports that over 6 million police-reported automobile accidents occur annually, which constitutes 1 every 5 seconds. On average, a person is injured in 1 of these crashes every 10 seconds and a person is killed every 12 minutes.

A high percentage of these automobile accident deaths occur on our nation’s freeways and highways due to the high rates of speed encountered. There are, however, steps you should consider to reduce your chances of becoming a victim on the freeway, including the following:

  1. When you merge onto the freeway, you should be at average traffic speed.

  2. When in the right lane of a freeway, move over one lane to the left when you see drivers coming into traffic from the entrance ramp. If this is not possible, slow down to give the entering driver more room.

  3. Allow plenty of room between you and other vehicles. Many driving experts advocate the two-second rule. Under this rule, you should start counting when you see the vehicle in front of you pass a fixed object. Count “one thousand one, one thousand two.” If you reach the fixed object before “two,” you are following too closely.

  4. Try to maintain average traffic speed. Vehicles going much slower or faster than other traffic are a recipe for an accident. However, common sense regarding speeding laws must also be considered.

  5. You should use extra caution when driving at night or in bad weather. Remember that many drivers do not adjust their driving habits for the weather or bad road conditions.

  6. Avoid any sudden moves, since this does not give other drivers time to react.

  7. Continuously scan the roadway ahead of you for signs of trouble, including construction and traffic slowdowns.

  8. Be aware of the positions of other drivers around you, particularly those beside you or slightly to the rear. Make sure your rearview mirrors are properly adjusted before you drive your car.

  9. Remember that your reaction time and overall driving skills decline as you get tired. Breaks every few hours are important.

  10. When exiting the freeway, be sure to signal well in advance. Do not slow down significantly until you start to turn off the freeway.

Get more personal lines insurance and risk management tips and ideas from IRMI.

Copyright 2008, International Risk Management Institute, Inc.