Expressways here in the Philippines: North Luzon Expressway (NLEx) and South Luzon Expressway (SLEx), being the two most prominent are the most convenient way of getting to the northern and southern parts of Luzon via car.
Many drivers, especially novice ones, worry about driving on an expressway. But actually expressways are safer than the usual roads, despite being faster because the opposing lanes are separated. Events unfold more quickly than the usual highways and that’s why the importance of safe driving on the expressway shouldn’t be overlooked.
Here are tips to help you drive safely on expressways
Have your vehicle checked
Make sure to check the condition of your vehicle before hitting the high-speed-highway. Inspect the status of the cooling water, engine oil, brakes, tires and a spare tire, and petrol to prevent vehicle breakdowns that could cause an accident or an unplanned stop-over.
If you plan to carry equipment like bicycles, surfboards, etc. make sure that they are properly strapped in place to prevent them from falling.
If you plan to use the expressway for a long car drive as many drivers do, then it’s wise to plan your stops and places to rest ahead before you go.
Keep looking ahead
Many drivers get involved in crashes because they fail to look ahead. Remember that expressways are faster than the usual roads and you would have covered a great distance in just a sneeze. Make sure your are aware of what’s happening on the road ahead especially when you’re looking to the mirrors or glancing quickly behind.
Be sure to signal your intentions before entering the expressway. Look for a gap in the traffic where you will merge and accelerate briskly upon entering to match your speed with theirs so you don’t become a hindrance to other vehicles and slow them down.
Keep a safe distance
Safe distance varies and depends upon the road and weather conditions. Keep enough distance between you and the vehicle you are trailing to allow you enough time to stop, especially abruptly. A good guideline is keeping two seconds between your vehicle and the car in front. This distance will then increase with the speed you are travelling, but will give you enough time to stop if the vehicle in front stops, and also provides a space for other vehicles to pull in front of you if they need to use your lane.
Increase your following distances in wet weather as it will take you longer to stop due to reduced friction on the road.
Be ready for toll fees
If you’re using the expressway, then you have to bring some cash with you to pay for the toll fees. You can see the toll fee rates in the Epass website, for SLEx; and Tollways Management Corporation website, for NLEx; and the Toll Regulatory Board website, for all the expressways in the country.
If your tire blew all of a sudden while driving on an expressway do not hit the brake immediately. It would be highly dangerous to do so as you’ll lose even more control over the vehicle. Expect the steering wheels to jerk to one side when a tire suddenly loses air. Grip the steering wheel as firm as you can and release the accelerator as fast as you can to gradually lose speed. Use te gears to slow down. Once you are down to 20km/h or less it will be safer to use the brakes without fear of spinning out. Aim to get to the road edge and park your car in a safe position. If there is a lot of traffic passing closely by, get out of the passenger side as it’s safer.
Have a rest
Driving could be a tiring task especially if it’s a long-drive. It’s a great idea to rest for 10 minutes every 2 hours, even when you don’t feel tired. This way you could stretch those cramped up legs and arms, and also check your vehicle’s load at the same time.
Upon your exit
Always pay attention to road exit signs in an expressway. Change lane at least 1km before your desired exit point and don’t forget to reduce your speed when approaching the exit. It will be hard to estimate your speed so don’t rely on your senses alone —check the speedometer instead.