Expressways, like dual carriageways, are safer than other roads because they donâ€™t have many of the hazards found on ordinary roads and are designed to help traffic travel faster. Expressways can have two, three or even four lanes. Due to the higher speeds and volume of traffic on expressways, things happen very quickly and when accidents occur, they are often serious in nature, involving greater loss of life. To be safe on expressways you must stay alert, have total concentration and look well ahead. When driving on an expressway, you should make full use of your mirrors and give other drivers plenty of time to see and react to your signals before starting any manoeuvre.
The normal rule is to use the right-hand lane on the expressway unless when you are changing lanes or overtaking. One of the most common expressway problems is driving too close to the vehicles ahead and to correct this, you should always use the â€˜two-second ruleâ€™; and in poor weather conditions you should double this.
Â Joining the Expressway
More often than not, drivers will join the expressway by using a slip-road and acceleration-lane. Slip-roads and acceleration-lanes are provided for drivers to build up their speed so that they can match their speed with traffic already on the expressway, without causing inconvenience or danger to other drivers. As you drive on the slip road, ensure to make frequent glances across to the expressway to assess the speed and position of traffic in the right-hand lane. Signal early to inform drivers behind you and those already on the expressway of your intentions to join. To join the expressway safely, the main points to remember are:
1. Â Â Â Adjust your speed to match that of the traffic already on the expressway.
Signal early to show your intention of joining the expressway.
Always give priority or right of way to traffic already on the expressway.
Join where thereâ€™s a suitable gap in the right-hand lane.
Use the MSPSL (Mirror-Signal-Position-Speed-
Donâ€™t force your way into the traffic stream.
Â Leaving the Expressway
When leaving the expressway, drivers will leave by using a slip-road andÂ deceleration lane, in which case drivers will be slowing down as they leave. When leaving the expressway, pay attention to your speed and use your mirrors effectively, as traffic following behind may not be leaving, thereby catching up with you rapidly. As you enter the deceleration lane, start to slow further down. To leave the expressway safely, the main points to remember are:
1. Â Â Use the MSPSL routine in good time
2. Â Â Get into the correct lane early, unless youâ€™re already in the -hand lane.
If you miss your intended exit, do not reverse on the expressway to slip road. Continue to the next exit to leave the expressway and rejoin in the opposite direction then continue to the required exit.
Â Changing Lanes and Overtaking on the Expressway
The main points to remember when changing lanes and overtaking on the expressway are:
1. Â Â Use the MSPSL routine well before you change lanes
2. Â Â If necessary, use your turn signal in good time
3. Â Â You have to be aware that vehicles might come up behind you very quickly, so be very careful before your intended manoeuvre.
4. Â Â A quick shoulder or sideway glance into the blind spot may be necessary
5. Â Â When safe to do so move steadily into the lane.
Â In next weekâ€™s article we shall be discussing how to safely deal with pedestrian crossings using the hazard routine. For further explanations or clarification on the articles in the Essential Skills of Driving column, consult the author.
Stephen K. Dieseruvwe
Director General, Delta State Traffic Management Authority (DESTMA)
**Driver Trainer and Road Safety Consultant