How Can Drivers Avoid a Car Accident on the Highway?

Car with side damage parked on the road

Each year, there are roughly six million car accidents in the United States, which is an average of close to 16,500 collisions every day. Some of the most serious accidents, including multi-vehicle collisions and truck accidents, occur on major highways across the country. Driving on a busy highway can be a bit intimidating, particularly for new, inexperienced drivers. Merging into fast-moving traffic, navigating lane changes with other vehicles, and sharing the road with massive commercial trucks can be challenging and nerve-racking. With more experience, drivers become more comfortable and confident on the highway. Unfortunately, even the most experienced and responsible driver can be involved in a car accident if another motorist is speeding, driving erratically, or is constantly looking at his or her phone while driving. This type of behavior is extremely dangerous at any speed, but on a busy highway, it can be deadly.

What are the Most Common Types of Highway Accidents?

Understanding some of the common types of accidents that occur on highways can help motorists avoid the following dangerous situations:

  • Distracted driving: This is one of the top causes of car accidents on highways. Too many motorists are distracted by talking on the phone, looking at a text, reaching for something in the backseat, or talking to other passengers in the vehicle. Drivers need to keep focused on the road ahead at all times, particularly when driving on a busy highway. One moment of distraction can have devastating consequences if it results in a collision with another car or truck. Drivers should put the phone away, avoid all distractions, and concentrate on their driving.
  • Drunk or impaired driving: Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is extremely dangerous, particularly on a high-speed freeway where cars and trucks are traveling at speeds of 65 miles per hour (mph) or more. Drugs and alcohol can impact a driver’s ability to focus on the road ahead or react quickly to other motorists. Drunk driving accidents on highways often result in severe injuries and fatalities as a result of the impact of a high-speed accident. One should never drive after consuming alcohol or drugs, including prescription medications that can cause drowsiness.
  • Drowsy driving: This is more dangerous than people realize. In fact, sleep deprivation can have a similar effect on the body as alcohol. According to the National Sleep Foundation, being awake for 18 hours straight has a similar impact on a driver’s ability to operate a motor vehicle as if he or she had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05. Even a small lapse of attention can dramatically increase the risk of a car accident.
  • Teen drivers: Newly licensed teen drivers lack the experience that older, more seasoned drivers have when it comes to highway driving. In addition, they are more likely to be distracted by a phone call, text, or another passenger in the vehicle compared to older drivers. It is highly recommended that teen drivers take a defensive driving class so that they learn safe and effective driving strategies and feel more comfortable driving on busy highways.
  • Speeding: Highways have higher speed limits than local roads, which means that car accidents that occur on highways tend to be more serious. Drivers must always obey the speed limit, avoid weaving in and out of lanes, and keep their attention focused on the road and their surroundings.
  • Sudden lane changes: This can catch other motorists off guard, causing them to swerve into another lane or slam on their brakes. This is particularly dangerous when large trucks are in the vicinity because they have large blind spots, so a truck driver may not see a car that makes a sudden lane change.
  • Inclement weather: Rain, snow, ice, wind, and fog can cause treacherous driving conditions on highways. Rain, ice, and snow can cause road surfaces to become slippery, while fog and extreme sun glare can affect visibility. Motorists should always take necessary precautions when driving on highways during inclement weather. Drivers should reduce speed, keep headlights on, and make sure windshield wipers are functioning properly.

How can Drivers Stay Safe When Driving on a Busy Highway?

Driving on a highway can be a daunting experience. Even experienced drivers can feel a bit nervous if they are surrounded by massive tractor-trailers traveling over 70 mph. The following are effective safety tips that drivers should keep in mind, whether it is their first time driving on a highway or if it is part of their commute every day:

  • Choose the best conditions to start driving on a highway. Motorists who have never driven on a highway should start on a highway that is not particularly busy. It is best to void rush hour or the evening hours when it is dark. Drivers should make sure to check the weather and avoid driving during conditions that could impact visibility.
  • Stay in the right lane. The left lane is generally for passing, so new highway drivers should stay in the right lane, where traffic tends to move slower. They will also be able to learn how to interact with traffic, maintain the legal speed limit, and become more confident driving on a highway.
  • Leave space for lane changes: When it comes to spacing, the general rule is for a driver to leave four to six seconds worth of space between their vehicle and the car in front of them. The driver should check the rear-view mirror, as well as all blind spots before changing lanes. It is important to maintain a safe speed and distance from other vehicles at all times.
  • Always use turns signals when changing lanes or merging into traffic. Using turn signals is how motorists communicate with each other, including when they are turning or changing lanes. Failing to use turn signals can cause serious accidents.
  • Stay focused on the road. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that drivers under the age of 20 have the highest number of fatal distracted driving accidents. These accidents can be prevented by avoiding distractions and staying focused on the road. That includes paying attention to what is directly in front of the vehicle, as well as checking the rear-view mirror and looking farther down the road. This will allow drivers enough time to reduce their speed or come to a complete stop, if necessary.
  • Use caution around large trucks. Learning to drive defensively around large, commercial trucks is an important lesson. There are important things to keep in mind when driving near a large truck. When following a truck, if someone cannot see the truck driver in the mirror, the truck driver cannot see them. Drivers need to slow down and put more space between them and the truck. Trucks also have large blind spots, so when changing lanes, it is crucial that drivers use their turn signal to make sure there is ample space between them and the truck.
  • Do not overreact. A driver cannot control another driver’s actions, but they can control how they respond to the other driver’s behavior. If a driver gets cut off or is annoyed by another motorist driving too slowly, it is best to not overreact or become aggressive. If another driver becomes aggressive or shows signs of road rage, a driver should change lanes and put space between their vehicle and the aggressive driver. If necessary, the driver should call 911.
  • Always wear a seat belt. Whether someone is driving in a residential area with a 25 mph speed limit or on a busy highway with a 65 mph speed limit, wearing a seat belt is the most important thing drivers can do to prevent or lessen the severity of injuries. Motorists who do not wear their seat belts are 30 percent more likely to be thrown from the vehicle if they are in an accident. In addition, they are at greater risk of a traumatic brain injury because occupants of motor vehicles do not wear helmets.

Baltimore Car Wreck Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Represent Victims of Highway Car Accidents

If you or someone you know was seriously injured in a car accident that occurred on a busy highway, do not hesitate to contact the Baltimore car wreck lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. Owing to the high speed at which cars and trucks are traveling, accidents on highways can cause a significant amount of property damage and severe injuries. Our experienced legal team will determine who is responsible for causing the accident and ensure that you receive the maximum financial compensation you deserve for your injuries. We will not stop fighting for you until we have your complete satisfaction. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.

Our offices are conveniently located in BaltimoreColumbiaGlen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel CountyCarroll CountyHarford CountyHoward CountyMontgomery CountyPrince George’s CountyQueen Anne’s CountyMaryland’s Western CountiesSouthern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of CatonsvilleEssexHalethorpeMiddle RiverRosedale, Gwynn OakBrooklandvilleDundalkPikesvilleParkvilleNottinghamWindsor MillLuthervilleTimoniumSparrows PointRidgewood, and Elkridge.