Highway Driving Best Practices

Driving on the highway can be challenging, even for experienced drivers.

At The Wiser Driver Driving School, we believe that with the right preparation, knowledge, and skills, everyone can navigate highways safely and confidently.

This guide covers essential tips for preparation, safe driving techniques, and handling emergencies, making sure you’re ready for anything on the road.

How to Prepare

Before you even set out for a highway journey, preparation is the key to a smooth and safe drive. This starts with ensuring your vehicle is in prime condition, planning your route meticulously, and being fully aware of the upcoming weather conditions.

Vehicle Maintenance and Checks

Your vehicle needs to be in top shape to handle the demands of highway driving. Regular maintenance checks can prevent unexpected breakdowns. Key areas to focus on include:

  • Tire Pressure: Proper tire pressure not only ensures better fuel efficiency but also enhances handling. Under-inflated tires can overheat, while over-inflated tires can lead to a blowout. Both scenarios are risky at high speeds.

  • Fluids: Regularly check oil, coolant, brake fluid, and windshield washer fluid. Low levels of these can lead to engine damage, overheating, or reduced braking efficiency.

Pro Tip - Check tire pressure and fluid levels before every long trip to prevent unexpected issues.
  • Lights and Indicators: Ensure all lights and indicators are working correctly. Functioning headlights, brake lights, and turn signals are essential for visibility and communication with other drivers.

  • Battery: A simple voltmeter check can indicate battery health. A weak battery can fail unexpectedly, especially in extreme weather conditions.

Planning Your Route

Knowing your route can save you from last-minute stress and wrong turns. Highway driving often involves dealing with interchanges, exits, and long stretches without stops.

  • GPS and Maps: Always have updated maps on your GPS device or phone. Apps like Google Maps or Waze can provide real-time traffic updates and alternate routes in case of congestion or accidents.

  • Rest Stops: Plan your rest stops ahead. Fatigue is a major risk on highways, and taking breaks every two hours can prevent drowsiness. Look for service areas that provide facilities like food, restrooms, and fuel.

  • Familiarity: If possible, familiarize yourself with the route beforehand. Knowing major landmarks and exits can make the drive less daunting.

Understanding Weather Conditions

Weather can drastically affect driving conditions, especially on highways where speeds are higher and reaction times shorter.

  • Check Forecasts: Always check the weather forecast for your entire route before you start. Websites and apps like Weather.com can provide hourly updates.
Fact - Fatigue is a major risk on highways, so planning rest stops every two hours is crucial.
  • Rain: Wet conditions reduce tire traction and increase stopping distances. Ensure your wipers are in good condition and your tires have adequate tread.

  • Snow and Ice: If driving in winter conditions, consider using winter tires. Keep a snow brush and ice scraper in your vehicle. Salt and sand for traction can be lifesavers in icy conditions.

  • Fog: Visibility can drop dramatically in foggy conditions. Use fog lights if your vehicle has them and reduce your speed.

By focusing on these key areas before hitting the highway, you are setting a solid foundation for a safer and more manageable journey. For more detailed advice on driving in various weather conditions, refer to our safe driving in bad weather guide.

What Are the Best Tips for Safe Highway Driving?

Navigating the highway requires precise techniques to maintain safety and efficiency. Here’s how to stay safe while driving on the highway.

Maintain Proper Speed Limits

Stick to posted speed limits and adjust your speed based on road conditions and traffic flow. Speeding is a factor in 26% of all traffic fatalities. Authorities issue millions of speeding tickets annually because it’s a major safety concern. Slower speeds also improve fuel consumption and reduce wear on your vehicle.

Important - Speeding contributes to 26% of all traffic fatalities.

Keep a Safe Following Distance

Tailgating is risky, especially at high speeds. The National Safety Council advises maintaining a following distance of at least three seconds. This can be increased to four or more seconds in adverse conditions like rain or fog. Keeping a safe distance allows for adequate reaction time and can prevent rear-end collisions.

Use Signals and Mirrors Effectively

Always use turn signals to communicate your intentions to other drivers. Proper signaling ensures smoother lane changes and turning maneuvers. Adjust your mirrors before starting your journey and check them frequently. Using your mirrors effectively helps in monitoring blind spots and ensuring safe lane changes.

Sticking to these concrete practices will enhance your safety and that of other road users. For more detailed advice on defensive driving techniques, refer to our defensive driving guide.

A summary of best practices for safe highway driving:

  • Speed Limits: Adhere to speed limits and adjust for conditions.

  • Following Distance: Maintain at least three seconds, increase in bad weather.

  • Signals and Mirrors: Use turn signals and check mirrors frequently.

Adjusting these techniques into your driving habits can significantly reduce the risk of accidents and contribute to a safer driving environment.

How to Handle Highway Emergencies

Reacting to Accidents

If involved in an accident, it’s vital to remain calm and take immediate steps to ensure safety. First, move your vehicle to a safe location if possible, such as the shoulder of the road. Turn on your hazard lights to alert other drivers. It’s essential to check for injuries and call emergency services if needed.

Documenting the accident is crucial. Take photos of the scene and exchange information with other parties involved. Collect names, phone numbers, and insurance details. Report the incident to your insurance company promptly.

Flow Chart - Steps to Take After an Accident

Managing Tire Blowouts

A tire blowout can be a terrifying experience, especially at high speeds. Maintain a firm grip on the steering wheel and resist the urge to brake suddenly. Gradually decelerate by taking your foot off the accelerator. Aim to keep the vehicle straight and steer it towards a safe area off the highway.

Check your spare tire regularly. Many forget this, but having a functional spare can save time and stress. Ensure you know how to use a jack and change a tire. Consider carrying a portable air compressor and a tire repair kit for emergencies.

Dealing with Road Rage and Aggressive Drivers

Aggressive drivers pose a significant risk. If confronted with road rage, avoid making eye contact and do not engage. Create distance between you and the aggressive driver. If they continue to harass or follow, drive to a public place like a police station or a crowded location.

For those interested in more strategies, we have a detailed guide on handling road rage situations. Implementing these strategies can help maintain composure and safety on the road.

Key Points for Highway Emergencies:

  • Move to a safe spot after an accident

  • Use hazard lights to warn other drivers

  • Take photos and exchange information at accident scenes

  • Maintain a steady grip during a tire blowout

  • Steer gradually to a safe area without sudden braking

  • Distance yourself from aggressive drivers and avoid engagement


Highway driving doesn’t have to be daunting. With the right preparation and by following best practices, you can significantly enhance your safety and that of others on the road. Prioritizing vehicle maintenance—like checking tire pressure and fluid levels—avoids breakdowns and accidents. Staying informed about weather conditions and planning your route can make a big difference in your driving experience.

Key Takeaways - Highway Driving Best Practices

Key best practices include:

  • Adhering to speed limits

  • Maintaining a safe following distance

  • Using signals and mirrors effectively

These steps help maintain control and awareness, reducing the risk of accidents. Handling emergencies, from accidents to tire blowouts, requires calmness and adherence to safe practices. Steps like moving to a safe area and using hazard lights are fundamental.

At The Wiser Driver Driving School, we emphasize ongoing learning and improvement. Our comprehensive programs include Joshua’s Law classes, personalized lessons, and defensive driving courses. Our experienced instructors promote confident driving through hands-on learning. Discover more about our services here.

For further reading on related topics, check out our guides on avoiding common driving mistakes and stress-free driving strategies. Continuing to learn and practice safe driving techniques ensures a safer journey for everyone on the road.