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Freeway driving presents special challenges

For more information, contact:
Patrice O’Hara
KDOT Bureau of Traffic Safety: (785) 296-3756

Freeway driving presents special challenges

We’ve come a long way from the two-lane blacktops that formerly served as the traffic arteries of Kansas.

Today, sophisticated, high-speed, multi-lane, divided freeways are the preferred means to move vehicles long distances within the state. Because of the special design features, such as the elimination of intersections and the prohibition of pedestrians and slower-moving vehicles, freeways are among the safest modes of transportation.

While freeway design has minimized the number of accidents, the crashes that do occur are more severe, due to higher speeds and high traffic volume. According to the Bureau of Traffic Safety of the Kansas Department of Transportation, that makes undivided driver attention a top priority.

“It’s critical that freeway drivers keep their focus on the road because potentially dangerous situations can crop up so suddenly at high speeds,” said Patrice O’Hara, Acting Chief of the Bureau of Traffic Safety.

KDOT offers the following reminders on safe freeway driving:

• Stay in the right lane, except to pass

• If possible, move to the center or left lane to accommodate vehicles attempting to merge from the right at entrance ramps

• Don’t begin slowing down in a traffic lane when preparing to exit a freeway. Wait to slow down until you are in the deceleration lane

• Obey speed limits and adjust your speed to account for weather conditions or construction zones

• Don’t drive in another vehicle’s blind spots, near the left or right rear fender

• If feeling drowsy, pull over, stretch, walk around or drink a caffeinated beverage. In Kansas in 2002, 12 people died after falling asleep at the wheel

• Don’t follow other vehicles too closely. To measure an appropriate following distance, when the rear of a car ahead of you passes a reference point, it should take two seconds for the front of your car to reach the same reference point. At high speeds the following distance should be even greater

• Use low-beam headlights when other vehicles are approaching, and when driving in rain or fog

• Obey reduced speed limits in work zones, and switch to the center or left lane and slow down if you see a Highway Patrol or other law enforcement vehicle stopped on the right shoulder. It’s the law in Kansas.