Safe Driving Techniques for Intersections, Ramps, and Bike Lanes

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For the most part, the rules of safe driving are a matter of common sense. Should you speed? No. Drive recklessly? Of course not. But there are a few areas that can give pause to even the most cautious driver.

When everyone is moving in the same direction at the same speed, there isn't a lot of traffic, and thus a relatively low-risk situation. But when intersections come into play, things can get complicated. Intersections introduce many more opportunities for trouble, so each one should be approached with caution.

Intersections have so many more potentially hazardous variables: cross traffic, pedestrians, and inattentive drivers can all turn a safe driving experience into a dangerous one. Whether it's a stop sign, yield sign, or a traffic light, every intersection should be approached with one simple rule: LOOK BOTH WAYS.

There's a reason we drill this into our children and follow it all the way through adulthood. Whether you're in a car, on a bike, or walking, you must check-and double check-before proceeding through any intersection. Even if you have the green light, or "it's your turn," you must ensure that there isn't an inattentive driver, cyclist, or pedestrian coming through.

In addition to people not paying attention, machines can also break down from time to time. If a traffic light breaks down, it defaults to a blinking red light, which is to be treated like a stop sign. This can get dicey, particularly with larger, multiple-lane intersections, but if everyone drives defensively, everyone can get through unscathed.

Bike Lanes
With road biking becoming popular, "sharing the road" has become more and more important. Cyclists are perpetually in our rear and side views, and occasionally in our blind spots. Bicycles are a lot like motorcycles, only with a few very important distinctions.
First, they are essentially silent. Smaller vehicles, such as bicycles and motorcycles, are harder to see due to their size, but you can often hear a motorcycle's engine before it comes into view-not so with a bicycle.

Second, cyclists are generally less protected than motorcyclists. The helmets aren't as elaborate, and they tend to wear less protective clothing.

However, bicycles do have their own lane, and the rules are pretty simple: bike lanes are for bikes only. Motor vehicles may not be in a bike lane unless they are entering or exiting the highway, or getting to a parking spot. And even in those circumstances, drivers must use extreme caution before entering the bike lane.

On and Off Ramps
Getting on and off a highway can be tricky. What's the speed limit for an on ramp? What about an off ramp? If you're driving along a road that has a speed limit of 25 MPH, and you turn onto a highway on ramp, you have a relatively short distance with which to speed up to 55 MPH or greater-all while signaling, merging, and keeping an eye out for any road hazards that may pop up.

With off ramps, the opposite holds true. You can't slow down while you're still on the highway, so you must be prepared to obey the speed limit until you pull off, and then use the off ramp to transition to the new speed limit. And because you're more likely to find potential road hazards-bicycles, pedestrians, etc.-on regular roads, you must be even more attentive.

Of course, the best way to stay on top of the best safe driving tips is to enroll in an online defensive driving course. That way, you'll know what to do even in a rare scenario that you never anticipated!
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