Driving safely at highway speeds requires a combination of skill, judgment and attention. Throw any one of these out the window and you’re only creating a recipe for disaster that could earn you a costly fine or get you into a serious car accident.
Of the incredibly long laundry list of things you should never do while driving at highway speeds, these are the top six no-no’s to avoid.
- Texting or talking on the phone. There are plenty of reasons so many states are starting to crack down on people who talk on their cell phones or text while driving. A total of 39 states and D.C. prohibit drivers from texting, while 10 states and D.C. prohibit talking altogether without a hands-free device. Some studies have shown that doing talking or texting, even at low rates of speed, is just as bad as driving under the influence. If you don’t believe that, maybe a Distraction.gov study will make you a believer – it concluded that “the impairments associated with using a cell phone while driving can be as profound as those associated with driving while drunk.” Bearing that in mind, do you really have room to complain about drunk drivers if you drive with your cell phone in your face? According to Distraction.gov, “Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for five seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field, blindfolded.
- Steering too abruptly to recover from veering off course. “Although rollovers occur in only about 3 percent of all serious crashes,” Consumer Reports points out that “they account for about 30 percent of people killed while riding in a passenger vehicle.” Rollovers can be caused by a ‘trip,’ when a single vehicle swerves into a shoulder or curb, or can be ‘un-tripped’ – check out short videos on types of rollovers to learn the difference.
- Partaking in other distracting activities. Distractions come in all shapes and sizes, and include everything from eating to playing with your car stereo to fiddling with a navigation system. Even talking to your co-passengers can be distraction enough to pull you off your A-game behind the wheel. This is why distracted driving is rapidly becoming a serious issue, accounting for thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of injuries every year.
- Being sick. Okay, this is one thing that none of us ever does on purpose. But did you know that driving while you’re sick – especially at highway speeds – can be really, really dangerous? And we’re not just talking about being seriously ill. In a study performed in 2012, it was found that even driving with a cold can greatly reduce your reaction time. Not to mention the added distraction of having to constantly blow your nose. Figuring in the likelihood that you could be taking mind-fog-inducing over-the-counter meds, you’ve got just cause to call in sick and stay off the roads.
- Speeding. This one’s a no-brainer, but since there are a lot of lead footed folks out there who just can’t seem to keep their speedometers under control, we thought we’d discuss it in more detail. Everybody knows that breaking the speed limit can get you pulled over. Just in case it’s been a while or you’ve never received a speeding ticket, we encourage you to check out the NHTSA’s summary of speed laws by state and the associated fines you face. Speeding is also extremely dangerous, accounting for 33 percent of all fatal accidents. Then of course there’s the fact that you burn more gas when you drive fast. To find out just how much gas you’ll waste by speeding, check out the handy-dandy calculation tool found here under “What is the speed penalty for my vehicle?” Read it and weep! Or learn to slow it down.
- Being drowsy. If you’ve ever hit the rumble strip or been struck with a yawn attack while driving, you’re guilty of having nearly fallen asleep at the wheel. At very least, you’ve displayed evidence of having taken to the wheel when you shouldn’t have. Drowsy driving is a serious issue that not only makes you less attentive, but it also slows down your reaction time and impacts your ability to make smart decisions quickly. Add in the higher rate of speed of highway travel and you could be a snoozing time bomb.
Overall, do yourself – and everyone else on the road around you – a favor. Either exercise good judgment, especially at highway speeds when everyone’s safety is at stake, or stay off the road.