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The following section summarizes the concepts, practices, and techniques that are covered in more detail in later sections. It's the longest section for just that reason: because it introduces you to all the material. As you read it, think about how attitude, aptitude, anticipation and attention all work together to make for a safe, fun driving experience.
SECTION 1: DEFENSIVE DRIVING
All good drivers have learned the rules of the road, and have acquired the skills to adapt quickly to changing situations. They know how to use their common sense to anticipate problems. Their skills and their common sense work together to make them the safest drivers on the road. The marriage of learning and common sense to anticipate and avoid problems has a name: Defensive Driving.
A. Driving Courtesy and Attitude
1. Be as Courteous While Driving as in Other Social Contacts Many of us think of driving as a solitary experience. We get in our vehicle and go, and feel wrapped in the solitude of 3000 lbs. of steel and upholstery. In fact, when we drive, we are a part of a huge community that includes other drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, etc. As in any community, rules of courtesy are the key to comfort and survival. Never underestimate the power of stupid people in groups. First, courtesy means that you are aware of those around you...and awareness is the basis for survival on crowded roadways filled with hurtling vehicles. The other important fact is this: If you are courteous, you help create a more gentle and comfortable driving environment. It makes driving more fun.
2. Right-of-way A lot of heated driving disputes occur over the simple question: 'Who gets to go first?' 'Right-of-way' rules help avoid these disputes by laying out the order that drivers can proceed through an intersection that has no stop signs or traffic signals (called an 'uncontrolled intersection') when two or more vehicles arrive at the intersection at the same time. The right-of-way rule says that a driver that reaches an uncontrolled intersection first has the rightof-way to go through the intersection after making certain that it is safe to proceed. If two vehicles arrive at the intersection simultaneously, the vehicle to the right proceeds first. a. When to use it: Take the right-ofway when you have it under the rule, and when it is safe to proceed. However, look at the other drivers first to make certain that they understand that you are proceeding. If another driver proceeds improperly as you are taking your right-of-way, you won't feel any better about a collision knowing that under the law, you were in the right. b. When to give it up:
• To pedestrians in a crosswalk • At stop signs • To pedestrian and vehicle when you are
emerging from an alley • To emergency vehicles • At four-way stops • When making a left turn Vehicle #1 is to the right of vehicle #2 and proceeds first..
3. Stress, Anger, Emotion, and Fatigue Stress, anger, and/or fatigue – if unchecked - impair your ability to think clearly and concentrate on the job at hand. Learn to identify and control these conditions.
a. How to recognize it: Before you start your vehicle, think about how you feel. Are you angry, exhilarated, or depressed? Has something made you edgy? If you do not feel relaxed, take time to clear your head. b. How it affects driving: If you are distressed or fatigued, you are not clear-headed and you will be less apt to recognize danger as it develops. You will be less prepared to make critical, split-second decisions once the danger is apparent. c. Collision potential: High or low emotional states affect your ability to concentrate, greatly increasing your chances of collision. Fatigue also affects your concentration, and is often a factor in mishaps on long trips.
You are responsible for your emotions on the road...and emotions kill if you don't control them.
B. Adjusting to the Driving Environment
The driving environment changes constantly. Your job is to adjust and adapt to changes. 1. Daytime vs. Nighttime Driving during daylight hours, your biggest problem can be keeping your eye on the road rather than rubbernecking at the scenery. At night, you tend to lose depth perception. You also tend to unconsciously speed-up and 'overdrive' your headlights. Thus, driving in daylight tests your focus, while driving at night is a bigger test of your driving technique. a. Visibility: Always concentrate on seeing and being seen. During the day, avoid being blinded by road glare. Make sure to keep your windshield clean. It is not a bad idea to drive with your lights on during the day to increase your visibility to others. At dawn and dusk you will find yourself driving through low-contrast 'white light.' This is an especially dangerous time, because low contrast ensures that you see less than you think you do. Avoid passing or driving too fast for conditions. b. Speed: When the sun goes down, so should your speed, since your visibility is cut to approximately 500 ft…the distance your headlights cast their beams. You must be able to stop your vehicle within the range of your headlights.
c. Planning the route: If you are driving at night, plan a route that takes you along welllighted streets. Business areas and urban freeways are better lighted than secondary roads and residential areas. Where do forest rangers go to 'get away from it all?'
Nighttime reduces your vision to the throw of your headlights. It is also primetime for intoxicated drivers.
2. Weather In California, a leisurely day's drive can take you from hot, dry badlands to icy, snow-covered mountains to rainy coastal plains. Each of these climatic zones presents its own challenges, and their conditions can co-mingle to create wind, hail, rain, and fog…all within a few dozen miles. a. Fog, Rain, and Snow: Driving in a fog is unlike any other driving condition. Fog slicks up the road. It makes it difficult to see. It makes it difficult to judge distance. It makes you lose sense of exactly where you are on the road, in which direction you are driving, and at what speed you are driving. To make matters worse, fog reflects your high-beam headlights back into your eyes turning the fog into a solid, impenetrable wall. So, only use low-beams when driving in the fog – never high-beams. In one recent year in the U.S. there were 1,387 deaths due to foggy conditions. In November 2002 198 vehicles collided in a single chain reaction due to soupy fog on the Long Beach Freeway. According to Ted Eichman of the California Highway Patrol, the collision occurred because motorists badly misjudged their stopping distance in the fog, continuing to drive too fast. In dense fog, drivers often steer their vehicles by following the taillights of the vehicle ahead…which is blind reliance on a stranger. Roads become especially slippery during the first 15 to 20 minutes of precipitation (fog, rain, or snow), because moisture washes-up oil that has permeated the road surface. This mixture of old oil and water can be lethal to an unaware driver. The same slippery conditions that hold in fog apply to light dustings of snow. Also, drifting snow obscures the road; high winds can blow your vehicle off a slippery road; deep snow reduces traction; and vehicle problems such as vapor lock can leave you stopped and stranded.
(1) braking distance: 'Braking distance' refers to the time it takes your brakes to stop your vehicle. In wet weather, this often increases as road moisture penetrates your tire-wells and makes your brakes slick, causing loss of traction. Leave plenty of braking distance. Avoid hard braking in bad weather, which leads to skidding. (2) speed: Your total stopping distance (reaction time/ distance plus braking distance) is affected by your speed. On slippery roads, reduce your speed. (3) wet roads: Wet roads affect all aspects of your vehicle's performance and control, including the Your worst nightmare: driving in a effectiveness of your brakes and tires in stopping snowstorm at night. your vehicle. Increase your safety margin by Keep your headlights on low-beam to heeding the following. avoid reflection, and SLOWDOWN! Slippery: Below are tips for adjusting to slippery, wet roads.
• Get the 'feel' of the road and adjust your speed accordingly. • Be sure tires have plenty of tread and are properly inflated. • When slowing or stopping, gently apply the breaks.
Hydroplaning: When it rains, water collects on the roadway in a thin sheet. If your tires are bad, or you are driving too fast, your vehicle can actually lose contact with the road surface and ride up on top of this sheet. This condition is called 'hydroplaning.' Here's what you should do, when hydroplaning occurs.
• Avoid braking. • Reduce your speed by decelerating. • Steer smoothly in a straight line. • Follow in the tracks of the vehicle ahead of you. • Open up extra space between you and the traffic. • If conditions are ripe for hydroplaning, stay out of the fast
lane where, if you spin-out, you can strike the center divider.
b. See and Be Seen: Headlights are required to be activated during darkness, which is from 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise. Darkness is also defined as any other time when visibility is not sufficient to render discernible a person or vehicle at a distance of 1000 feet. Turn on your lowbeam headlights in rain, fog or snow The law (CVC 24400 a & b) now requires your headlights to be activated whenever your windshield wipers are in continuous operation and whenever visibility is such that you cannot clearly see another vehicle or a person from a distance of 1000 feet. In special circumstances – you are slowing down for safety, for instance tap your brakes, thus activating your brake lights. Always keep your windshield, headlights, and taillights clean. 3. Road Conditions a. Soft Shoulder: Often road shoulders are made of softer material and are lower than the paved portion of the roadway. Not only does this reduce your traction, but you can become trapped on the wrong side of an abrupt edge. b. Drop-offs: A drop-off may be engineered next to the roadway to funnel rainwater, or rainwater can erode a deep gutter alongside the roadway. c. Bad Pavement: Secondary or less traveled roads may be poorly maintained. Urban streets are often rutted by cracks and potholes. Poor road conditions not only cause collisions, they can cause damage to your vehicle's alignment and tires. d. Seasonal Hazards: Each season presents its own hazards. Beware of fog and slippery roads in the winter, spring, and autumn. Summer heat is hard on your vehicle, and road glare is a problem. 4. Intersections
This is a lethal combination of snow and fog...not uncommon in the mountains during winter, spring, and autumn. Drive with your lights on to see and be seen.
a. Controlled and Uncontrolled: A controlled intersection is an intersection protected by a signal light, traffic control officer or a stop or yield sign. Uncontrolled intersections have no such safeguards, leaving you to proceed through the intersection at your discretion. 'Discretion' can be defined here as your common sense about the rules of the road, combined with your anticipation of trouble given the situation. (1) signaling distance: You must signal a change of direction, such as a turn or lane change, for 100 feet continuously before the maneuver. Regardless of your speed, it is recommend that you signal for 5 seconds before making any lane change. (2) speed: Since most collisions occur at intersections, be cautious as you approach. Cover your brake and be ready to stop. (3) stopping limits: Always stop at the limit line, if marked, or before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection. If there is no crosswalk, the driver shall stop at the entrance to the intersecting roadway or rail-grade crossing (Think of it as an imaginary line from curb to curb). Keep in mind there are marked crosswalks (with painted lines) and unmarked crosswalks (no painted lines). In the absence of a posted sign prohibiting pedestrian crossing, you can assume a crosswalk at any intersection, even if there are no lines painted on the pavement. (4) signal controlled: These are intersections with signal lights controlling the flow of traffic.
Red Stop Red arrow Do not turn against this arrow Flashing red Come to a full stop before proceeding with caution Yellow Proceed with caution and prepare to stop Flashing Proceed cautiously through the intersection yellow Yellow arrow The 'protected' turning time is ending; prepare to stop Green Go, after yielding to vehicles, pedestrians, or bicyclists in the intersection Go in the direction of the arrow, after yielding to any vehicle, pedestrian, or bicyclist in Green arrow the intersection
Traffic signal When there is an electrical power failure, treat the intersection as a four-way stop blackout 5. City, Freeway, Open Roadway, Mountains Each of these driving environments presents challenges. a. Speed: As you drive, read and follow the posted speed limit signs. Always be aware of the weather conditions, the type of road and the amount of traffic in determining your speed on the road. b. Following distance: You must be able to stop before striking the vehicle in front of you if it stops or slows unexpectedly. If a turtle doesn't have a shell, is he homeless or naked? c. Braking distance: Keep in mind that braking distance depends on a number of factors. • How quickly you see and react to the hazard • Conditions of the road • Condition of your brakes • Condition of your tires • Gravityup-/downhill
Less space on the roadway and more traffic considerably limits your reaction time when driving in the city. Always be looking ahead and anticipating trouble.
Remember: Braking distance increases exponentially with speed. Your braking distance at 60 mph will be four times your braking distance at 30. d. Signaling distance: The law requires that drivers signal at least 100 feet before turning. At higher speeds, signal sooner. For example, on open highways or at freeway speeds, signaling five seconds prior to a lane change is recommended. e. Traffic conditions: In larger cities, traffic can be congested during most daytime hours. Properly prepared drivers will listen to traffic reports on radio stations throughout the day to find whether traffic conditions on their intended route are good. f. Passing: Below are some tips for passing.
(1) open roadway: Passing on a two-lane road requires you to travel into the oncoming traffic lane…a dangerous maneuver in any event. Never pass:
• Over double yellow lines or against a 'No Passing'
sign; • If the vehicle ahead of you is traveling at the speed limit; • When an oncoming traffic is too close; • Several vehicles in front of you at a time (pass only one vehicle at a time); • On a curve when your line of sight is limited; • On or near an underpass or bridge; and/or • Near an intersecting road, in the event that vehicle is making a right turn from cross-traffic into your line. (2) mountains: There are several dangers involved in passing in mountainous areas. Be prepared for:
• An oncoming vehicle moving into your lane to pass; • Difficulty passing a slower moving vehicle on a
narrow road; • Blocked field of vision on sharp curves and steep hills; • Loss of braking on a steep downgrade; • Extreme weather conditions such as heavy fog, rain, and snow. 6. Driving distractions Collisions often occur when the driver of one or more vehicles is distracted. This is especially unfortunate, since most distractions are avoidable. Below are some distractions you do not want to fall prey to. a. Inside vehicle
• • • • • • •
Talking to passengers Dialing, answering, and talking on cell phone Pets roaming in the vehicle Lighting a cigarette Eating and driving Insects such as bees Changing radio stations, audio tapes, or compact discs
Adults are required to use a hands-free set-up when talking on a mobile phone, and may not use an electronic device to write, send, or read a text-based communication (e.g., text message, instant message, email), when driving. Those under the age of 18 are prohibited at all times from using any wireless telephone or other mobile service device when driving. The law provides exemptions for using mobile communications devices to place an emergency call to law enforcement, the fire department, a health care provider, or other emergency services.
b. Outside vehicle
• • • •
The scene of a collision Interesting sights Looking too long at scenery Finding a location and address.
C. Collision Causation
Driver error is the most common cause of traffic collisions. Below are some pitfalls to avoid. 1. Mental The best defensive driving techniques and attitudes are compromised by mental errors. If you are unfocused, distracted, or unaware, you can't anticipate and respond effectively to dangerous situations. These types of mistakes are caused by stress or fatigue, or just plain sloppy mental habits. 2. Physical Fatigue, physical disability, illness, and/or being medicated all qualify as physical conditions that can compromise defensive driving. Aging is factor that sometimes affects vision, hearing, and mental alertness. 3. Environment Adapt to your environment. Also, be prepared for changing environments. If you're driving from the mountains to the coast, you can drive through many different climate and weather conditions within several hours. 4. Visual Habits Bad visual habits will lull you into complacency and reduce attentiveness. Train yourself to scan the driving environment...and then think about what you are seeing, so that you actually understand the meaning of what you are looking at.
5. Other Drivers You can never really predict what other drivers will do. Protect yourself by anticipation and awareness. 6. Collision Types Collision types tend to differ with road-type and terrain. Collisions on city streets often happen at intersections, whereas freeway collisions tend to be more varied and unpredictable. a. Intersections (1) blind: A 'blind' intersection is one in which you cannot see 100 feet to the left or right down the cross-street when you are within 100 feet of the intersection because of some natural or manmade obstacle. A blind intersection can be controlled (one that is protected by signals or signs) or uncontrolled (no signals or signs). By law, you must slow to 15 mph within 100 feet of a blind intersection that is uncontrolled. For your own protection, be prepared to stop at the corner before entering the intersection. You are allowed to drive at the speed limit (or safe speed) when approaching a controlled blind intersection as long as you obey all signs and controls. If the police arrest a mime, do they tell him he has the right to remain silent? (2) right-of-way: Watch for drivers careless about giving the legal rightof-way to others. Beware of pedestrians in the crosswalk when you are turning left. Anytime you are in a controlled or an uncontrolled intersection there is a chance that an emergency vehicle will be entering the intersection against traffic.
(3) turns: Turns are often the occasion of collisions in the city. Remember the following. Left: Turning left requires that you judge the speed of oncoming traffic (traffic you are 'turning against'). Add to this the presence of pedestrians in crosswalks and/or changing lights, and you have many things to keep track of. As you move into the intersection, keep your wheels straight and cover the brake while waiting to turn, so that a rearend impact could not push you into oncoming traffic. Right: Nowadays many urban streets have bicycle lanes to the right of the traffic lanes. Drivers must cross these lanes to turn right. In such cases, bicyclists going straight have the right-of-way. Meanwhile, watch for pedestrians in the crosswalk as you turn…crosswalks are prime spots for collisions involving pedestrians.
The vehicle on the right misjudged the turning radius of this commercial vehicle (tow truck towing vehicle) and ended upforced to the curb.
Simultaneous: At some intersections, it is permissible for two vehicles side-by- side to turn in the same direction at the same time. If you are making such a turn, keep a close eye on any vehicle turning with you to make sure they stay in their lane. Be prepared to maneuver to get out of their way, should they – on completing their turn – drift into your lane. Wide turns - commercial vehicles: Large commercial vehicles (usually multi-wheeled, articulated tractor/trailers) must make wide turns – that is, turns that take up space in two lanes – in order to avoid turning into oncoming traffic. When you are side-by-side with one of these vehicles – if the driver does not see you - you can get run-over whether you're on the lane inside or outside of the vehicle. Remember: As long as a driver's face is visible to you in the vehicle's mirrors, he can see you. Otherwise, he may be unaware of you.
During simultaneous turns, stay in your lane, and be wary of the other guy drifting out of his and into yours'. (4) pedestrians: According to the California Highway Patrol 2003 SWITRS (Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System) Annual Report, 712 pedestrians were killed and 13,991 pedestrians were injured in traffic crashes during 2003. Children under 15 accounted for 24.7% of all pedestrian victims. The most vulnerable age group for pedestrian victims (killed and injured) was 15-24 years. Overall, the majority of pedestrian victims tend to be male. These numbers are appalling! Pedestrians are the most vulnerable users of our roadways. One of your primary responsibilities as a driver is to do whatever possible to avoid a collision with a pedestrian. Pedestrians have a responsibility for their own safety as well. If you are a pedestrian, follow these rules: • Use sidewalks •Cross only at intersections and crosswalks •Look left, right, left for traffic before stepping off curb. •It is illegal to cross mid-block between 2 controlled intersections. •A pedestrian crossing illegally (i.e. outside of crosswalk) must yield to traffic. •Pedestrians walking in the road should walk opposing traffic, along the left-hand edge of the road. b. freeways: Due to the higher speeds of freeway traffic, when a collision
occurs it often involves a chain reaction as nearby vehicles swerve to avoid the collision. Beware of being caught in a collision not of your own making. (1) merging: Two common causes of collisions as vehicles merge onto the freeway are slower moving vehicles being struck from behind, and drivers merging without adequate space. (2) exiting: Three prime causes of freeway-exiting collisions are:
• An exiting vehicle slows too much and is hit from behind; • A driver fails to read the sign 'slow to 15 mph' and strikes the
barrier; • An impaired or disoriented driver enters in the exit ramp. (3) space cushion: Think of the space around your vehicle (front, rear, and both sides) as a cushion that protects you from contact with other vehicles. Obviously, - depending on the speeds you are traveling, as well as other factors – that cushion may need to change form or expand. c. Lane Changes: Inattentive or sudden lane changes are a major cause of collisions on the freeway. Often these are caused by 'blind spot errors.' Stay out of the blind spot of other drivers, and do not let other drivers cruise in your blind spot. Before making a lane change, be sure to glance quickly in the corresponding blind spot to be sure there is no conflict. d. Passing: A major cause of collisions is one vehicle passing another and cutting that vehicle off while merging back into the line of traffic. Don't get out of your passing attitude until you have arrived at where you want to be. e. Head-on: Head-on collisions usually occur late at night when traffic is light. An intoxicated or disoriented driver enters the freeway on an exit ramp thinking it is an on-ramp. Watch for wrong-way drivers on one-way streets and anticipate the possibility of a vehicle crossing the centerline on a curved roadway. f. Rear-end: Colliding with a vehicle in front of you should it stop or slow unexpectedly is a common and avoidable collision. Always drive at a safe following distance (you'll read about the 3 Second Rule later in the course) and be sure to eliminate distractions in your vehicle (like the cell phone) that might cause you to look away and miss the brake lights being activated on the vehicle(s) in front of you.
g. Fixed objects: The major fixed objects on a freeway are the ends of the guardrails and trees at the bottom of the freeway embankment. There is the additional problem of debris and large items sitting in lanes - another reason to always scan up the road to anticipate your need to change lanes. h. Slippery surface skids: When the weather first begins to turn, road conditions and weather are often at their worst. Also, it takes time to shift focus from fair- to foul weather driving. When conditions change, change focus with them. So always reduce speed, increase following distance and heighten\n your vigilance when driving on wet roads. i. Vehicle Failure: (1) brakes: Brakes tend to fail when overused to slow or stop the vehicle on long, downhill stretches or in stop-and-go traffic. In stop-and-go traffic, this can be avoided by driving more slowly in a lower gear. On long, downhill stretches, drive in a lower gear. (2) tires: Tires with worn tread tend to blow out and skid easily.
D. Collision Avoidance
1. Defensive Driving Techniques: The Smith System and SIPDE There are two defensive driving techniques that are especially helpful to know: The Smith System of Accident-free Driving; and the SIPDE process. Each is enumerated below. The Smith System 1. Aim high when steering: Look as far as a block ahead when driving. 2. Keep your eyes moving: Constantly move your eyes side walk to sidewalk near and far. 3. Get the big picture: Take in everything in the driving scene, rather than merely other vehicles. 4. Make sure they see you: Whether pedestrians, twowheeled vehicles, or other automobiles, use horn and lights to be seen; make eye contact and yield right-ofway when necessary. 5. Leave yourself an out: Continually visualize escape routes as you travel. Maintain your space cushion by adjusting your speed, which will give you the time to use your escape route.
...plus a good space cushion around your vehicle ...makes you a defensive driver.
SIPDE process 1. Scan or search - for possible trouble. 2. Identify - problems or conflicts on the roadway. 3. Predict - signals will change; vehicles will turn; pedestrians will cross. 4. Decide - which maneuver should be taken. 5. Execute – the maneuver.
Stay well behind the vehicle in front of you, especially in bad driving conditions. If you collide with the rear-end of another vehicle, you will almost always be cited for driving too close for conditions.
a. Be alert - don't assume: As you drive along, envision a plan for escaping trouble as you drive, and be committed to that plan. Although each situation is different, you are only going to get a few cues before you must commit to a maneuver. Many times, there are no advance cues at all. If a vehicle crosses the centerline, are you going to swerve left? Swerve right? If you know what you will do beforehand, and you commit early, you stand a better chance of
avoiding trouble. b. Escape techniques: Learn escape techniques. Be prepared to commit to an escape technique. Most important, maintain a space cushion that will give you time to make decisions. c. Reaction time: Reaction time is the time you take to move your foot from the accelerator to the brake, once you see a hazard. The quickest among us can react to a hazard in a half second. Average reaction time is three-quarters of a second. One of the reasons that a defensive driver stays focused is that inattention can significantly increase reaction time. d. 'Three Second Rule': The 'Three Second Rule' basically states that you should maintain a space between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you that would take three seconds to travel at the posted speed limit. e. Think ahead: Pay attention at all times to the driving task and drive within your ability to handle your vehicle. f. Use of horn: Don't be afraid to use your horn, particularly to communicate your presence to other drivers or pedestrians that may be unaware of you. 2. Avoiding a Collision with the Car Ahead a. Importance of vehicle lane placement: Because large vehicles such as sports utility vehicles (SUVs) and recreational vehicles (RVs) limit sight lines, it is up to you to make certain that they know where you are on the road. Remember a couple of things:
• Do not drive in another's blind spot, and do not let others drive in yours'
(speed up or slow down). If you have to be in a blind spot, make certain the driver sees you in his/her mirrors (if you can see the driver's face in the mirror, s/he can see you). • Increase your following distance when following a larger vehicle. • Momentary Distractions: If a distraction is serious, pull off the roadway to address it. b. How to establish a three-second gap: When the vehicle ahead of you passes a stationary reference point such as a sign, count, "one-thousand-one, onethousand-two, and one-thousand-three." If you pass that pre-established reference point before you are finished counting, then you are following too closely.
c. When to increase the following distance to four (or more) seconds:
• • • • • •
Following large trucks and vans Driving in rain/fog Driving on icy routes When being tailgated When vision is blocked or visibility is poor When speed is increased
d. Momentary distractions – pick a safe time to look away: A momentary distraction is one that you can resolve quickly (less than a second or two). If you cannot resolve the distraction in this time, then pull off the roadway. If you can safely resolve it in this time, here are pointers: • Assess the situation ahead before reacting to the distraction. If you don't see a couple of seconds worth of clear sailing on the road ahead, don't attempt to resolve the situation. In other words, don't look away in busy traffic. • Take short looks: If you must look away from the road, do not do so until the road is straight and you have made certain that have enough room to stop. Only then can you look away. Then, take short looks, returning your eyes to the road constantly. • Have passengers help with navigation: Do not use time on the roadway to check maps for navigational information. If you are unfamiliar with where you are going, get good directions, a phone number, and check maps before you leave. If you have a passenger, let the passenger navigate. e. Look ahead for trouble: When you're driving in the city, look at least 12 to 15 seconds (about one block) ahead of your vehicle. On the freeway, extend the time/distance to 15 to 20 seconds ahead.
• Look over and around the car around the car ahead. • Check ahead for speed on hilltops and curves:
Remember that your line of sight is significantly shortened as you near the crest of a hill. Similarly, on a curved road, your vision will be blocked. • Watch for brake lights ahead or in adjacent lanes: If you see brake lights ahead of you or to your side, that usually means that something needs your attention. • Start braking early: Immediately check your mirrors and apply light brake pressure. This slows you down and warns drivers behind you that you might have to suddenly stop. If you're looking for trouble, pick on a truck. f. Locations to watch for trouble: • Traffic-controlled intersections: In the fluid conditions of a traffic-controlled intersection, anticipate that some drivers will accelerate to beat a light, change their minds, and slam on the brakes. Anticipate vehicles entering the intersection against the light.
• Approaching crosswalks: Pedestrians often step off just before or just after
the light changes. As you near an intersection, remember to cover your brakes…put your foot over – but do not ride – the brake pedal. • Lanes next to parked vehicles: Always scan lines of parked vehicles for people exiting by the driver's side, or vehicles pulling out into traffic. Position your vehicle so that the driver's side is close to the painted lane marker on your left. Below are a few cues to look for: • Person in driver's seat • Pedestrian moving between cars • Exhaust from parked car • Front wheels turned outward • Opening doors • Parking lot entrances: Don't assume that a vehicle signaling to turn into a parking entrance will turn immediately. Often the driver must wait to give right-of-way to pedestrians and/or vehicles. • Freeway interchanges: Freeway interchanges have marked lanes for acceleration and deceleration when entering or exiting, respectively. However, don't ever assume that other drivers will use them properly. The freeway is full of drivers speeding up across deceleration lanes to make an exit and/or braking in acceleration lanes to merge. • Slippery or ice-covered streets: Particularly in shaded areas or on bridges and overpasses, streets will remain slippery longer. • Where children are at play: Be careful around schools, parks, playgrounds, and residential areas. 3. Avoid Being Rear-ended by Another Vehicle a. Increase following distance: Check your mirrors frequently to gauge the following distance of the vehicles behind you. Try to open space between you and the vehicle following you, particularly if the vehicle is tailgating. Change lanes, if necessary. b. Signal early for stops and lane changes: Provide plenty of room for inattentive drivers to recognize your intentions. c. Brake smoothly and gradually: Smooth braking, along with signaling, is another cue to drivers behind you to slow. d. Keep pace with traffic, when possible: If you are keeping pace with traffic, you reduce the chances of being hit from the rear. e. Check your mirror for the following distance of other vehicles. f. Before changing lanes, check the direction of travel: On freeways and urban streets, make sure that the lane you are entering is not reserved for oncoming traffic. g. After stopping, keep your brake pedal depressed: If you are hit from the rear, this technique minimizes the chance of your being propelled into the intersection where a chain reaction can begin. h. Keep your taillights clean and working: Taillights are your first line of defense against being rear-ended if you must stop quickly. Make certain they are visible.
4. How to Choose an Alternate Path of Travel Escape Route A defensive driver is always looking for an escape route especially on a narrow curvy road. a. Importance of adequate visual leads: A proper visual lead allows you to see trouble as it's developing. It also allows you more reaction time. I wish my brother would get a job, so I'd know what kind of work he's out of. Train your eyes to look 12 to 15 seconds ahead of your vehicles in city driving. On higher speed freeways or open highways, use a visual lead-time of 15 to 20 seconds.
• Choosing a safe path of travel: Usually lanes #1 and
#2 – the two left lanes - are used for higher speed thru-traffic. Use the right-hand lanes if you plan to drive more slowly, or are preparing to exit. • Possible speed or position adjustments: Be prepared to make quick – but not abrupt - adjustments, particularly if you come up on a vehicle that blocks your visual lead. Find a gap in another lane, signal, and change lanes. Finding an alternate route of b. Positioning the vehicle laterally: Since you travel can save you time and always want to keep your options open, avoid being aggravation. trapped in clusters of vehicles. If you find yourself in a cluster, identify lateral spaces (spaces to your sides) that will be open in case you need to move. • Select speeds to position your vehicle between clusters of vehicles: First, position yourself using your speed in an area that gives you the most lateral options; then signal and move in either direction out of clusters. • Select lane position within traffic clusters to allow the greatest maneuverability: If you can't get out of a cluster (e.g., in rush hour traffic) opt for the position within the cluster that promises the most maneuverability. You can then expand your space cushion to the front by allowing space to open up. c. Avoiding multiple hazards: Be alert and leave a space cushion. • Identify hazards early: Be scanning ahead 20 seconds. • Predict potential hazards: When you are approaching a school zone, expect children crossing the street. Anticipate vehicles turning in front of you if you are driving through an area with uncontrolled intersections. • Adjust speed and position to avoid potential hazards: Slow down or speed up and position yourself in the edge of the lane away from potential hazards. • Anticipate and plan possible escape route: Continually identify open spots around you for evasive maneuvers.
d. Compromise to reduce the risk of hazards: Compromise is the basis of courtesy.
• A long line of cars approaching from the opposite direction: Move to the
right. Being the first driver facing a long line of approaching vehicles requires you to be prepared to slow, stop, or move to the shoulder. • An approaching vehicle drifts into the lane of travel: Sometimes an inattentive or distracted driver coming at you from the opposite direction will drift over the line into your lane of travel. Be prepared to: • Slow down; • Pull to the right; • Sound your horn and flash your lights. • On a curve: Going into a curve, remember to slow down on the way into it and stay toward the right of the lane. 5. Protecting Yourself When a Collision is Unavoidable a. Being hit from the rear: There are things you can do to reduce the impacts. Leave enough space when following another vehicle so that you can pump your brakes (to alert a driver approaching from your rear) or swerve into an empty lane if you see an inattentive driver approaching you from behind. • When to apply the brakes: Try to release the brake at impact to reduce the force; then, brake hard to avoid being pushed into vehicles stopped or slowed in front of you. • Use of head restraints: Brace your head against the head restraint to minimize whiplash. b. Being hit from the side: If you see a vehicle approaching from the side, speed up or slow down if possible to protect the driver's-side door. Being stuck in the front wheel or rear trunk will reduce your chances of injury.
• Preparing to steer: Steer sharply away
from the other vehicle to reduce the impact of a collision from the side. • Brace against the steering wheel to avoid being thrown around in the vehicle. c. Being hit from the front: Avoid a head-on collision at all costs. If a headon collision seems imminent:
• Protect your face when wearing a
shoulder strap: Use your arms and hands to protect your face if you are wearing a shoulder strap. The strap will act to keep you in the vehicle, and your
priority should be protecting your head. • Protection when not wearing a shoulder strap: If you are not wearing as shoulder strap, throw yourself across the seat so you don't hit the steering wheel or the windshield. 6. Emergency Situations Again, your most trusted resource should be your ability to anticipate hazards. a. Maintenance and construction areas : If you are in a construction zone, it will be well-marked with orange cones and/or signs. Watch for construction machinery and construction workers. Stay cool despite the delays that can accompany construction work. A person convicted of the assault or battery of a highway maintenance or construction worker engaged in the performance of his or her duties may be punished with a fine of up to $2,000 and/or up to one year of imprisonment in a county jail for each offense! b. Children: Children are likely to be either in school zones or residential areas. Almost any maneuver is permissible to save the life of a child (or another adult), if you think you can walk away from the results alive. c. Animals: Animals can be almost anywhere and are always unpredictable. Anticipate pets if you are in a residential area. In rural areas, prepare to encounter domesticated farm animals such as cows and horses, especially if you see a 'livestock crossing' sign. If a collision with an animal is unavoidable, brace yourself and drive 'through' the animal at speed. Attempting to brake or drive around an animal at high speeds is more dangerous than driving straight and hitting the animal. How do they get the deer to cross at that yellow road sign?
BEWARE: THE CAR YOU ARE DRIVING MAY BE A “DEADLY WEAPON”
Many of us probably do not know this fact, but according to the United States Government collision crash test site, www.Safercar.gov many of the poorly rated cars for safety on the road today could result in its occupants becoming one of the horrific, 40,000 plus annual causalities (in the United States). This statistic should make us very uncomfortable, especially when we compare this figure to those killed in any major war. There is great news though… Now, every one of us can do something about this, and make an informed decision, by simply checking the US government site to see how safe our car really is. Even if you are a very safe and cautious driver, the fact remains that nearly all of us will someday get into a serious collision during our lifetime. Unfortunately, too few of us pay attention to the car safety features or ratings when buying a car. Please take this important moment to visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration government test site to see if your car (or that of a loved one) is basically safe. The data at www.safercar.gov covers over 14 years of new and used vehicle safety records and this information will surely surprise and enlighten you. Indeed, some of the safest cars on the road today happen to be smaller makes and models, while many of the worst performers are the large family cars that most of us assume are the safest. Please help save the lives of your close friends and family by visiting www.safercar.gov and see if your car (or theirs) has mostly five star government crash safety ratings (the highest level). If it doesn’t…well we can’t advise you what to do, but can only ask that you use your imagination. Being safe usually will not cost you any extra money. However, picking the right car can mean the difference of surviving an accident. At Comedy School For Less Money, we feel that 40,000 deaths in car collisions is 40,000 people too many and we hope this public service announcement will save one of our student’s lives. And we hope it’s yours!!!
FAQ | Student Center | Log Off
You missed the question marked as red. Nr Question 1 To slow fatigue, stop driving your vehicle every four to five hours. 2 Roads become especially slippery _______. 3 Braking distance at 60 mph is _______________ farther than at 30 mph. 4 One pedestrian is killed every _______ minutes in the U.S. In the section on Defensive Driving, the author asks: Where do __________ go to "get 5 away from it all"? 6 The "Three-second Rule" has to do with following distance behind another vehicle. 7 When driving on a freeway, drivers should look _______ down the road. When driving on city streets, drivers should look at least 12 to 15 seconds ahead of 8 your vehicle. If your vehicle is about to be struck from the side, it is best to be hit _______ the 9 driver's side door. 10 When being hit from the rear, brace your head against the _______________. 11 According to the DMV, a common cause of collisions is _______.