When you have a fear of speed…
Throughout our lives we’ve always had to do things we never really wanted to do. We had to clean our rooms, eat our vegetables, visit the relatives we never really liked and be nice to our siblings. In many cases, these feelings of doing things we never like to do transfers over to us when we begin driving. Ever have those same feelings while driving?
I remember when I was an on-air judge during season one of Canada’s Worst Driver on Discovery when a participant was asked to drive faster than her comfort zone. She was so uncomfortable going beyond 50 km/h that she became a huge risk to herself and other road users whenever she had to travel on faster roads; including the freeway. She knew she had to drive faster, but never did.
I seem to witness the fear of speed almost on a weekly basis, especially on the freeway. Many drivers begin to accelerate to get on the freeway and for some reason, merge into traffic roughly 30 km/h slower than the traffic in their lane. Do they not realize what they’re doing is unsafe; for both themselves and for those around them? Do you think their fear of speed is blocking out their common sense? If you have the same feelings and fears, let me help you.
Quite often we don’t feel how fast we’re going when we’re traveling the same speed as everyone else. To the drivers who really dislike speed, it feels worse when everyone else is going so much faster than you are. As you travel along the acceleration lane before merging into traffic, matching the speed of the traffic which is already on the freeway will make blending into traffic much easier.
Once you begin to accelerate down the acceleration lane, check your mirrors and blind spot early. This will give you added information about whether you should ease off the gas slightly to let the driver next to you pass or if you should accelerate slightly harder to get ahead of them. Remember, your goal is to match the flow of traffic during your lane change onto the freeway.
Signal early enough to alert the traffic on the freeway of your intentions. Quite often drivers on the freeway will either adjust their speed to help you change lanes smoothly, or even change lanes themselves to help you. Hint, hint.
Just before you reach the end of the acceleration lane, check your mirrors and blind spot once more to ensure the space you’ve planned is still available. If an unthinking driver has taken that space from you, that’s ok. Directly ahead of you in most cases is a shoulder that is wide enough to allow you to temporarily drive on. I know that might not sound ideal, but it’s better than stopping and tying to merge into traffic at a very slow speed.
So there you have it. Simple techniques to allow you to merge safely on the freeway…with the same speed as those around you. If you find that you can’t handle the freeway speeds, use the alternative – lower speed highways. You’ll still get there, just a few minutes later.