How Does Highway Car Safety Differ from City Street Car Safety?

February 22, 2012

The rules of engagement for streets and highways overlap, but have key differences. Learn the best practices for maximum car safety in both situations.

Busy Highway

Although it is imperative that you drive safely whenever you are in the car, highway car safety requires a different set of rules than city street driving. Because of increased speeds, less light at night and a greater danger of exhausted drivers, it is arguably of more consequence should you drive unsafely on the highway than in the city. That is, of course, not to say that city driving should be taken lightly. Courteous driving, proper signaling and the obeying of light signals among other things are instrumental for maintaining car safety on surface streets.

City Street Car Safety
When driving on city surface roads, car safety is as important as when driving anywhere else. Due to the differences in traffic, speeds, obstacles and the presence of pedestrians, it has rules all its own. Traffic is usually limited to speeds of 45 mph or less on city streets, but there are many things you may encounter that you would not see on the highway. Frequent emergency vehicles, crosswalks, merging and turning vehicles and regular traffic lights are routine.

Safety on city streets requires you to constantly be on the lookout for pedestrians, bicycles, flashing lights and unsafe drivers. You cannot expect everyone to drive as they should, so you should always be on the defensive. Slowing down for school zones and potholes, letting busses merge into traffic, and generally being in no hurry help to ensure your safety and the safety of others is critical. Signaling before turning, using your headlights in the dark and keeping your car in good working order also help constitute safe driving.

Highway Car Safety
Highway car safety encompasses many of the same elements as driving in the city, but there are notable differences. Since speeds are greater--70 mph or faster depending on the state--driving automatically becomes more dangerous. Signaling is as, if not more, important than in the city. In order to make a safe lane change on the highway, signals are a must. There are few if any emergency vehicles on the highway, and pedestrians and bicyclists are seldom present. At night, however, because there are few streetlights and none in some stretches, maintaining your driving composure at high speeds can be nerve racking. If the lane lines or lane dividers are worn, discerning the lanes from the shoulder can be difficult as well.

Despite the fact that there are fewer non-vehicular obstacles, highway driving involves high speeds and frequent passing of large trucks. In high winds or bad weather, driving alongside a big-rig can be harrowing. Keeping within the speed limit, staying attentive to the flow of traffic and the cars around you, using your car's safety features including turn signals and headlights are all ways to stay safe on the highway.

Whenever you drive it is vital that you practice good car safety. In both situations, using your car's proper safety devices is necessary, as is being aware of everything that is going on in front and to the side of you. Safe, defensive driving means obeying traffic laws, designed for your safety and others. It is as much an attitude as it is a skill. Keep composed and don't be hasty wherever you drive. Make car safety your top priority.

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