Interstate 49 might be the most important roadway in Natchitoches, providing a means for people and products to make their way here. However, the interstate that slices through the city is also the site of violent collisions involving a mix of cars, SUVs, pick-ups, commercial trucks and motorcycles. Far too often, motor vehicle crashes result in serious injuries and fatalities.
It’s especially important for those of us in Natchitoches Parish who regularly drive on I-49 to feel confident driving at high speeds and to navigate the interstate as safely as we can for not only ourselves but for our families and fellow motorists as well.
Buckling up is one of the easiest things you can do to dramatically improve your odds of surviving a crash. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that seatbelts save more than 10,000 lives per year.
Although about 90 percent of Americans buckle up, the remaining 10 percent are at real risk of being ejected from the vehicle at high speed in an interstate crash. Only bad things can happen to the human body in those circumstances, so make sure your passengers are buckled up before you start up.
Let’s take a look at some of the other ways you can drive safely on 1-49 (and other interstates).
Put the phone down
The NHTSA says it takes 5 seconds to read or send a text. At 55 mph, you travel the length of a football field with your eyes on your phone and not on the cars and trucks around your vehicle. Put your phone in Do Not Disturb mode before driving on an interstate and all other roadways.
Use the left lane to pass
Interstate etiquette is simple: stay in the right lane until you need to pass a slower vehicle. Then signal and move into the left lane, pass, and return to the right lane. Interstate etiquette is not only considerate, but it’s safer for you and yours, too.
Get up to speed
When you’re merging onto I-49 and other interstates, use the acceleration lane to get up to speed. In that way, you’re less likely to cause other drivers to have to hit their brakes or change lanes.
When you drive too closely to the vehicle ahead, you’re at risk of a rear-end collision if the other driver hits their brakes unexpectedly.
Be considerate of truckers
It’s important to remember that when you’re following a tractor-trailer, if you can’t see the driver in the truck’s side mirror, then it’s unlikely that the trucker can see you. When you need to pass an 18-wheeler, begin from a position where you can be seen so that you reduce the risk that the trucker will inadvertently move into your lane as you’re trying to pass.
Sure, everyone’s in a hurry these days to get to their destination. That’s a given. But the reality is that smart, defensive drivers are much less likely to be in an interstate crash or in a car accident on a city street or rural road.