2According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), of the more than 5.4 million auto accidents in the U.S. during 2010, 1.54 million resulted in injuries, killing 32,788 Americans. Although improved vehicle design and tougher road safety standards have reduced these figures dramatically during the past two decades, they remind us of the need to stay safe behind the wheel.

A high percentage of accidents and deaths behind the wheel take place on the nation's freeways, for obvious reasons. To reduce your chances of becoming a victim or harming others on the freeway, we'd recommend taking these precautions:

  • When you merge onto the freeway, get to the average traffic speed as soon as possible.
  • When you're in the right lane of the freeway and see drivers merging from an on-ramp, move one lane to the left. If you can't do this, slow down to give the entering driver more room.
  • Allow plenty of room between you and other vehicles. Driving experts usually recommend using the "two second rule" -- when you see the vehicle in front of you pass a fixed object, count "one thousand one, one thousand two." If you reach the fixed object before "two," you're following too closely.
  • Try to maintain average traffic speed. Vehicles going much slower or faster than the flow of traffic are a recipe for an accident. However, also use common sense in observing posted speeding limits.
  • Use extra caution when driving at night or in bad weather; many drivers don't adjust their driving habits for weather or road conditions.
  • Avoid any sudden moves; give other drivers time to react.
  • Scan the road ahead continuously for signs of trouble, such as construction and traffic slowdowns.
  • Be aware of the positions of other drivers, particularly beside you or slightly to the rear. Adjust your rearview mirrors properly before you drive your car.
  • Remember that your reaction time and overall driving skills decline as you get tired. It's essential to take a break every two hours or so.
  • When exiting the freeway, signal well in advance. Do not slow down significantly until you start to turn off the freeway.
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