Whether you’re a new driver or aren’t used to city driving, it may take some practice to get used to getting on and off the freeway. Not only are you changing your speed drastically from frontage road to freeway, but you’ll have to be cautious not to run into vehicles around you.
Watch our video to see our 5 tips, then read more about them below.
As you can see, there are a lot of things to do in a short amount of time. Since safety is important, it’s beneficial to practice these steps and get better at doing a few things simultaneously.
Here are those steps again:
1. Use the ramp to speed up
This can be tricky because of other traffic around you. You’ll need to pay attention to the people in front of you in case there’s a slowdown. Ideally, you should be able to reach your desired freeway speed by the time you need to merge into the right lane.
2. Watch for gaps on the freeway
You’ll need to do two things during this step. You’ll need to look at the cars around you to determine where you can fit in. You’ll do this by checking your mirrors and your blind spot. Once you find a spot you can safely fit in, you’ll likely need to adjust your speed slightly so you don’t disturb the flow of traffic when you do merge.
3. Don’t cross the solid white line
When you’re getting onto the freeway, you’ll see a solid white line to your left. Wait until the line is dotted or disappears before you cross into the lane on your left.
Sometimes there is little time to switch into a lane while waiting on the dotted line. If you feel you won’t safely make it into the lane before the line disappears, it’s not uncommon for cars to change lanes by turning on their blinker and cautiously crossing the line. As a rule, try not to do this unless you have to – this way other drivers won’t be thrown off by your early lane change.
4. Always signal where you intend to go
No matter where you are on the road, signaling any sort of directional change is a good idea. Blinkers are one of the few ways you can communicate with other drivers, and if they see you’re trying to move into a lane, they will often be wary of your movement or even slow down to let you change lanes.
5. Move to the righthand lane a mile before your exit
Moving into the lane you need ahead of time can help you make a safe transition off of the freeway. This can help you avoid last-minute lane changes to get onto the ramp. Most freeways have signs to let you know where your exit is a mile or so ahead, and they always have a sign right at the exit to mark it.
When you’re getting off the freeway and onto the frontage, be sure to do the rest of the steps again. Slow down once you get on the ramp, check your mirrors and watch for gaps as you approach the frontage, wait until the white line to your right has become dotted or disappears, then (if you haven’t already) turn on your signal to let other drivers know where you’re headed next.
Want more driving tips and how-tos? Check out our teen series In the Front Seat.