Driving on the Highway for some may be a compulsion or a source of livelihood while for a minority like me it could be recreation. However, the very thought of hitting the Highway may send shivers down the spine for varied reasons.
On my part, I have been traversing the length and breadth of this great Nation since 2008 when I purchased my first car. Having travelled around 18 Indian states apart from Nepal, I have noticed certain salient features of Highway driving which I wish to share through this article.
1. Avoid the Innermost Lanes
While driving in areas frequented by stray cattle always avoid driving on the innermost lane unless it is the rule in which case there is no choice. Being on the mid lane gives you that extra split second to react in case any stray animal decides to suddenly take a stroll across the median or the highway. In both cases, you will get time to react and avoid banging into it. Similarly motorcyclist with an eagle eye spot minor gaps in the dividers to cross. In both cases, you can save your prized possession as well as your precious life.
2.Watch out for Senseless Drivers
Even if you are an accomplished driver you may get in trouble due to the actions of drivers who have a crazy passion to tailgate those in front, force you out of your lane or zig-zag across different lanes just to demonstrate their driving prowess.
Always keep an eye on the rearview mirror and if you spot one, please give way or slow down till the suspect vehicle is way ahead by at-least half a kilometre. Believe me, that half kilometre may extend your life by many more years.
3. Maintain Average Speed and Distance
One of the tenets of Highway driving is to understand the limitations or abilities of your vehicle, particularly when it comes to braking. While maintaining a decent speed may be required to avoid others from banging into you, you need to know how long your vehicle will travel if you were to hit the breaks in an emergency. This knowledge is mandatory and maybe the decider between life and death in extreme circumstances.
4. Overtaking with Care
Overtaking other vehicles should be as per need and not temperament. However remember to use proper signals, hand or indicator as per convenience. However from experience I would suggest to readers, always avoid driving beside a long-distance city bus unless it is has a sealed window, else you may be wiping vomit or spit off your windscreen.
5. Avoid the Boss
During these 14 odd years of travel, I have noticed quite a few Bosses, those few who feel a strange adrenalin rush while driving an SUV and consider it below their dignity to drive behind a hatchback. Such Bosses have a tendency to occupy the innermost lane and will not tolerate any transgression. Whenever you see one, please give way else you will be subjected to incessant honking and tailgating.
6. Take a Break & Avoid Night Driving
If driving solo always take a break every 4-5 hours even it is just to pick up an odd burger, a cup of coffee or to empty one’s bladder. The pit stop will certainly leave you refreshed for the journey ahead. Also remember not to consume spicy food while hitting the road as due to less exercise while driving, you may end up with a bloated tummy.
The best option is to have little tidbits every now and then along with sufficient quantity of water. Similarly, avoid Night Driving unless it is unavoidable.
If you don’t want to be blinded by the High Beam of vehicles on the opposite lane, better to stop driving before Sundown. However, if you do decide to drive, be prepared to meet the Blinkers, who will continuously blink the headlight asking for a pass even if there is none.
7. Watch out for debris
While driving on the Highway always remember to watch out for debris, particularly in Summer. I often come across tyre shreds, nut and bolts apart from plastic bottles disposed of by senseless travellers. If you can dodge the debris, you may save your car tyre from getting shredded.
There are quite a few other precautions to be taken while driving on the Highway like avoiding driving in the rain and watching out of wrong side drivers. Similarly, remember to slow down while crossing any habitation as there may be local slow-moving traffic. All in all Highway driving is an art which few can master and gain pleasure out of. For the remaining, it is just a painful experience. Which side are you on?