To improve traffic flow.

Simple, right? To add anything else would only limit us. We focus on education and raising awareness of driving best practices to accomplish our mission.

ih8traffic.org Driving Guidelines

The driving guidelines are primarily focused on multi-lane interstates and freeways. This is where driver behavior has the largest negative impact on traffic, and therefore where improvements in driving behavior can make the biggest difference. These roadways are designed for continuous movement. They have no stop lights or stops signs. Our behavior causes traffic to slow down and ultimately stop.

Maintain Free Flow

Gridlock is easier to prevent than fix once it occurs. Maintaining a free flow of traffic should be our primary focus.

  • Make safety your top priority.

    Your safety and the safety of others is more important than getting to your destination quickly or keeping traffic moving. Besides, accidents are really bad for traffic flow.

  • Be aware of the traffic ahead.

    Look as far down the road as you can see. Tightly spaced vehicles, brake lights, flashing lights, and erratic driving are all clues about what's going on ahead of you.

  • React quickly but smoothly.

    This mostly applies to braking. Let off the gas as soon as you see a problem ahead. Brake sooner, rather than later. Brake gently. Avoid slamming on your brakes. This causes the vehicles behind you to brake excessively, pile up, and slow down more than necessary.

  • Maintain a constant speed.

    Pick a speed and stick with it. Maintain your speed up hills and around gentle curves. Use cruise control if necessary. Slowing down can cause the traffic behind you to bunch up. Maintaining a constant speed also allows the drivers around you to make good decisions about passing you, allowing you to pass, or getting over in front of you.

  • Drive in the lane the furthest to the right that allows you to maintain your desired speed with minimal passing.

    Drive faster than the traffic in the lane to your right. This allows other drivers to move left to pass or go faster.

  • Pass vehicles that are going slower than your desired speed.

    Not passing them will likely cause traffic to bunch up behind them and you. The drivers behind you will be less likely to pass because they can't tell why you slowed down or what's going on ahead.

  • Pass with purpose.

    Accelerate to the speed of the lane to your left. Move left, and pass quickly. Never cause drivers in the passing lane to slow down. Do not inch past the vehicle you are passing.

  • Indicate your intention to pass slower moving vehicles in the left lane.

    Flash your headlights once or twice to let the driver ahead of you know you would like to pass. If you don't believe they noticed your flashing, tap your horn and flash your headlights again. If they move right, pass quickly. If they have a reasonable opportunity to move right and don't, pass on the right as soon as reasonably possible.

  • Yield to faster moving vehicles in the left lane.

    Faster moving vehicles have the right of way in the left lane. Pay close attention to your mirrors when driving in the left lane, and move right as soon as reasonably possible to allow them to pass. If you cannot immediately move right, speed up until you can.

  • Be in the lane you need to be in ahead of time.

    Know what lane you need to be in well ahead of time. Avoid changing lanes or merging at the last second. Do not cause others to slow down to let you over.

  • Leave enough space in front of you for another vehicle.

    EXCEPTION: The first vehicle behind a slow moving vehicle in the left lane should be close enough to indicate they want to pass.
    The free flow of traffic between lanes is critical to the free flow of traffic in each lane. Allow traffic to move into your lane from the right to pass and from the left to exit. The space in front of you should be big enough that you don't have to brake if someone gets in front of you. The space should also be big enough to allow you to brake smoothly and gently if the driver in front of you slams on their brakes.

  • Leave additional space in the right lane to allow traffic to merge.

    Vehicles merging from on-ramps have limited space to accelerate to the speed of traffic and limited space to merge. Make this process as smooth as possible and leave plenty of room for error. Avoid braking to allow traffic to merge. Accelerate, let off the gas, or move left to make room.

  • Accelerate quickly on on-ramps.

    Use on-ramps to accelerate to the speed of traffic and create space between the merging vehicles. Merge as soon as you can without disrupting the flow of traffic. Never intentionally merge at the last second.

  • Use your turn signal.

    Let others know ahead of time you intend to change lanes. This allows them to react smoothly to your actions.

Minimize Congestion

Despite our best efforts, congestion will occur. In fact, splits, merges, and interchanges are frequently not in free flow, even in light traffic. If most people are driving below their desired speed, you're defintely no longer in free flow. Here's what to do to minimize congestion and return to free flow. Remember, except for the guidelines about passing, most of the guidelines to maintain free flow still apply. Some become more important, get applied a little differently, or even change. They are emphasized or explained below.

  • Be aware of the traffic ahead.

    This requires more focus in congestion. You need to know what the traffic is doing immediately ahead of you and further down the road at all times.

  • React quickly but smoothly.

    The traffic ahead of you will likely be stop-and-go. Never be the first to come to a complete stop. Avoid coming to a complete stop in general. If you must stop, minimize the time you are stopped. Start moving again as soon as possible. Accelerate slowly unless there is free flowing traffic ahead.

  • Maintain a constant speed.

    This may be impossible, but try to minimize your speed variation. Specifically, vary your speed less than the car in front of you. Allow the gap in front of you grow as the traffic ahead moves and shrink as it stops.

  • Be in the lane you need to be in ahead of time.

    If at all possible, be in the correct lane before congestion occurs. Gaps in traffic to change lanes into become smaller and fewer as traffic gets heavier, so give yourself plenty of time to get where you need to be. Avoid making others make space for you. If the lane you need to be in is backed up but others are moving, get in the back of the line. The line forms at the rear. If you pass the back of the line by accident, get in line as soon as possible. Do not drive to the front of the line and butt your way in. That is a guaranteed way to prevent that lane from starting to move again.

  • Leave enough space in front of you for another vehicle.

    This generally still applies. However, if other drivers take advantage of your courtesy and make traffic worse, it is appropriate to close the gap.
    Example: There is a long line of traffic already formed to take the single lane ramp you need to take. The other lanes of traffic are generally moving freely. Drivers are driving to the front of the line and butting their way in. We suggest leaving a large gap as you enter the back of the line and slowly closing it as you approach the ramp. This encourages others to merge sooner rather than later.

  • Leave space in the right lane to allow traffic to merge.

    Traffic already on the interstate or freeway should be given priority while still allowing others to enter. Leaving no space to merge encourages drivers to butt their way in, disrupting any flow that may have existed.

  • Don't use on-ramps to pass.

    Traffic on on-ramps should never pass traffic already on the interstate or freeway. The appropriate position to merge into is behind the vehicle next to you at the beginning of the merge zone. This doesn't mean you have to merge immediately, just that you should merge behind that vehicle.

Stop Lights

Don't stop immediately behind the car in front of you. Leave more space. This will provide you better visibility of what's ahead and also allow you to accelerate sooner when the light turns green. Pay attention, and not just to the brake lights immediately in front of you. Watch the stop light and a few vehicles in front of you. Release your brakes when the vehicle two or three vehicles ahead releases theirs. Begin accelerating when the vehicle in front of you releases their brakes. Do not allow the space between you and the vehicle in front of you to grow. If this is a turn lane, do not brake for the turn. If you are the first vehicle in line, accelerate immediately and with purpose all the way up to your desired cruising speed.