The need for speed

Recent changes in Texas law have pushed the speed limit on some stretches of interstate highway up to 85 mph. Six other states (Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia) have increased speed limits to as high as 75 mph on certain roadways. (See other states' speed limits.) Keeping up with fast-moving traffic can make driving extremely stressful. The higher the rate of speed you’re traveling, the less time you have to react to anything happening around you.

Here are some basic rules for the road to consider before you take your next road trip, brought to you by AOPA Emergency Assistance Plus (EA+), your travel assistance provider.

Stay alert at all times

    • Constantly monitor surrounding traffic and maintain a safe following distance as well as an adequate “side cushion” for vehicles alongside you, in case you’re forced to swerve.

    • One way to build a safe time margin is to look well ahead (at least 12 seconds) to alert you to driving and road conditions. 

Beware of slower drivers

    • Look ahead for brake lights; they signal people are slowing down for some reason. Be ready.

    • Avoid tailgating the slower driver who refuses to get out of the way. Fight the temptation to pass on the right.

Eliminate distracted driving

    • Your focus should be on driving. That means no cell phone usage, texting while driving, eating, drinking, or even talking with other passengers.

    • Do not be distracted or slow down excessively to look at incidents in or near the roadway. This adds to congestion and increases the potential for additional incidents.

Change your speed according to conditions

    • When it’s raining or foggy, when ice is on the road, when traffic is heavy, or when road construction is ahead, adjust your speed accordingly.

    • Help other drivers enter and exit the freeway or change lanes. Adjust your speed or move to the next lane if it is clear.

Keep right

    • The left lane on a divided highway is not a fast lane; it is a passing lane. After you pass someone,  move into the right lane once you’ve safely cleared the vehicle.

Know when to slow down

    • Move over a lane when approaching a disabled vehicle or a stopped emergency vehicle with lights flashing and slow 20 mph below the posted speed limit.

    • Always look carefully and signal at least five seconds before changing lanes. This includes checking both inside and outside rearview mirrors and looking over your shoulder in the direction of the lane change.

Give yourself a break

If your eyes close or go out of focus, you can’t stop yawning, your thoughts wander, or you’re drifting between lanes, wake up: You’re a drowsy driver. Try to stay alert by doing the following:

    • Get plenty of rest before your trip;

    • Get out of your vehicle and stretch your legs every two hours;

    • Rest for 15 to 20 minutes during each stop;

    • Avoid driving between midnight and 6 a.m.;

    • Don’t drink and drive—even small amounts of alcohol can impair your judgment and your reaction time.

AOPA Insurance Services is celebrating 20 years of serving the aviation insurance needs of our customers.  Visit us online or call 877/432-2672 for information on how AOPA EA+ can assist you in your travels.