Highway driving – tips from the AA. READ THEM!

  • How to survive freeway driving
  • Simple rules to avoid / mitigate a collision
  • Commonsense insurance advice

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – Driving on a highway, even in the best weather, can be so daunting that novice drivers, particularly, become anxious and forget the basics of highway driving.

The Automobile Association says anxious drivers or drivers who don’t obey the rules of the road cause problems for other road users.

A media release said: “Highway driving requires skill and patience, especially when there is a strong likelihood that traffic will be backed up. It’s critical to know what you are doing, to always adhere to the rules of the road – even if traffic is moving slowly.


“And don’t underestimate your role in the free flow of traffic; even a small incident can cause delays for thousands of vehicles. Drive safely, and properly, at all times.”

Almost 60% of people who responded to an AA survey rated their highway driving as “above average”;  21% said they were “near perfect”. Only 21% admitted that their driving was average and nobody said they were “below average”. A tiny one percent confessed that they avoided such roads whenever possible.

The AA media release added: “These results indicate that too many drivers believe they are infallible on the road. This attitude is the root of many crashes: such drivers blame others for problems yet statistics show driving attitude causes many crashes.”


So, the AA has these tips, especially for novice drivers:

  • Keep your car in good condition. The highway is a bad place to break down. Remember, any roadside assistance services will also need to get through the same heavy traffic.
  • Maintenance: Make sure your engine, brakes, tyres, and indicators are working properly.
  • Remain calm: Highway driving can be stressful but it’s vital to remain calm. Be confident on the road; drive like you belong there. Remember, too, that if you constantly apply your brakes unnecessarily you will create a concertina effect of stopping behind you – a main cause of traffic snarl-ups.
  • Know your route. If you’ve never used a highway – freeway – go there and practice during quiet times – such as a weekend morning Listen to traffic reports; monitor social media (but not while driving!) for possible problems. If you’re an experienced driver, keep back-up route in  mind.
  • Know the rules of the road. They’re there to protect everybody and should be properly understood by any driver worthy of respect from hisher passengers, from motorcycle to minibus taxi. It’s important to obey them, to understand road markings and know when you may and may not change lanes. Using turn indicators to warn of an intended lane change is VITAL for your and others’ survival.
  • Learn to drive at low speed. Highway driving is not always about fast driving; traffic congestion is frequent – learn the correct gears for stop/start traffic.
  • Enter the highway safely. Always check your interior AND external mirrors for following traffic and vehicles – most likely travelling at 100km/h or more – to make sure it is safe to join the left lane. The ‘slip’ road is there for acceleration to match the speed of the traffic already using the freeway/highway.
  • Put away ALL electronic devices. Driving on a freeway requires your full attention. Do not be distracted by a ringing celllphone. Texting while driving is just plain stupid.
  • Keep a safe following distance. Identify a roadside item some distance ahead – a bridge, a speed-limit sign, perhaps…  As the vehicle ahead passes it say (preferably to yourself!) , at normal speech speed, ‘One thousand and one, one thousand and two’ which will take two seconds. If you’re smart, say it three times, just to be sure.  As you say ‘two’ (or, if you’re smart, ‘three’), you should NOT have passed the same road object. Adjust you speed to suit the circumstances.
  • It’s not always possible, in bumper-to-bumper traffic,  to do this, but maintain as safe a distance as possible from the car in front of you. Drive according to the conditions of the road and remember you are not there to enforce the rules of the road, only to obey them. Also be aware that you may travel some stretches with a clear road ahead of you but suddenly find heavy traffic – or an obstruction –  further along. Always be alert for and make sure you leave enough room to slow down – and, if necessary, to stop.
  • Be calm while driving. Highway driving can be stressful but stay as calm as possible. Everybody makes mistakes (including you) but be courteous to others.
  • Always wear your seatbelt. Just because highway traffic is slow it doesn’t mean you or your passengers can unlock your crash belt. Just… DON’T!
  • Insure yourself and your car. Only around 35% of all cars in South Africa are insured. If you crash you have a 65% chance of having to foot the bill for any damages you, your and the other vehicle(s).  Take to an insurance company.
  • If you’ve read to here you’re smarter than most other drivers – they thought they didn’t need to. Dumbasses – hope they have funeral cover….

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