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occurs when you successfully complete this Traffic Violator Course. You will increase your knowledge of California's driving laws as well. Why is that important? When your safety is at risk, raising your driving consciousness is always beneficial. The unfortunate truth is many drivers get tickets simply because they are not paying attention or have forgotten some rule of the vehicle code. In other words, what you are about to read can save you money by helping you to avoid breaking the law, receiving a traffic citation, and having to pay the penalty. But more important, what you are about to read can easily save your life… or someone else's. A. THE SERIOUS RESPONSIBILITY OF OPERATING A MOTOR VEHICLE When you get behind the driver seat, you’re not just driving a car. You are driving a 2,000 pound plus piece of machinery. The lives of your passengers and all other drivers and pedestrians around you on the road are at risk. Driving is the most dangerous thing you do on a daily basis. One little mistake at any speed, whether at 65 mph or 35 mph, can be deadly. As a driver, your responsibility is not only to respect the law but also to appreciate the risks when you operate your vehicle, risks both to yourself and to the other drivers with whom you share the road. Yes, the key word here is SHARE. 1. MOTOR VEHICLE IS A WEAPON You don‘t believe that? Any object that weighs as much as a car does and is fueled by 20 gallons of a flammable liquid while moving down the street at 50 feet per second has the power to do some serious damage. Remember all weapons, including cars, can kill people. The problem is that we have become so used to driving our vehicles, that we tend to take them for granted. If you get up every morning at the same time, get dressed the same way, go about your morning routine, and then head for your car, you may be tempted to drive in a routine or complacent manner. The problem inherent in adopting a set routine is that we can become complacent and take things for granted. For example, just because there wasn’t a child behind your vehicle yesterday as you backed out of your driveway, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a child hiding behind your car today. But how often do we walk around to the back of the vehicle and check for hiding children, their toys, obstructions, etc.? 2. THE DANGER OF THE CAR IF NOT OPERATED PROPERLY Automobile collisions are responsible for more deaths than the total lives lost in every war the United States has ever fought. It is an enormous number, and a tragic one. We all need to wake up to the fact that the automobile is truly the deadliest weapon in America. You need to treat your automobile with respect and caution as you would any dangerous weapon. More and more people illegally carry a gun in their car "for emergencies."
3. PARKING RESPONSIBILITIES
When parallel parking, your wheels should be no further than 18 inches away from the curb. Be sure to set the parking brake and put the car in 'park' if you have an automatic transmission. If you have a standard transmission place in 1st gear and apply the parking brake. When parking on an uphill slope always turn the front wheels away from the curb and roll backwards, so the rear of the front wheel stops against the curb. Set the parking brake. When parking downhill turn the front wheels toward the curb and roll forward, so the front of the wheel stops against the curb. Set the parking brake. When parking uphill or downhill where there is no curb, turn the wheels toward the shoulder so the car will not roll onto the road if the brakes fail. Also, you may not park and leave your vehicle unattended within 15 feet of a fire hydrant. B. OBEY THE LITERAL MEANING OF LAWS If all drivers obeyed all traffic laws all of the time, the majority of traffic collisions would be eliminated. You may not agree with certain laws. Maybe you think the speed limit on your favorite street should be raised...or lowered. But we can all agree on this: these laws serve a purpose. They demand a code of behavior that insures the safety and well being of every driver, cyclist, and pedestrian. It is every driver’s obligation and responsibility to not only know the law, but to obey it as well. It's important to become familiar with all regulatory signs and traffic controls, but more important to do what they tell you according to the law. Staying safe and legal on the road is easy to do if one wants to. It’s a comforting thought: If you always drive at the posted speed limit, you will never get a speeding ticket. (Unless you are in violation of the Basic Speed Law - more on that later.) 1. WHY MUST WE STOP COMPLETELY AT STOP SIGNS? Stop signs are posted for a very important reason. Intersections are the most dangerous places on the street. Stop signs help prevent cross-traffic collisions. Always come to a complete stop at every stop sign. You should stop at the limit line, if marked, otherwise before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection. If there is no limit line or crosswalk present, the driver shall stop at the entrance to the intersecting roadway or railroad grade crossing.A handy tool is to count to three before starting up again. While you are counting, look left, right then left again. Confirm there are no pedestrians in the crosswalk or about to step into the crosswalk. 2. WHAT DOES ‘YIELD’ REALLY MEAN? ‘Yield’ means letting the other driver or pedestrian proceed before you. Reducing speed might be enough to let one car proceed. But if you have to yield to more than one car, a complete stop may be necessary.
C. COMMON COURTESY IS A KEY TO SAFETY Rude drivers tend to be unsafe and many times, even reckless. A lack of concern for others in most circumstances may be only mildly unpleasant; but at 65 mph it could be deadly. Common courtesy is absolutely essential to stay safe on the road. Some drivers who are ordinarily quite polite in face-to-face encounters with strangers are prone to behaving rudely when they are driving because they feel a certain sense of 'invulnerability' inside their vehicles. After all, they are surrounded by 2000 lbs of metal. Nothing can hurt them, right? There is also something to be said about "courtesy breeds courtesy". The driver you are nice to may just pass it on. Fluids are the key to battling the common cold. 1. THE ROADWAY IS SHARED BY ALL DRIVERS Many people drive as if they own the road. They think they are the only ones on the road. Sometimes this can be an expensive mistake, as well as a deadly one. We are not alone on the road. Just look around! Streets are crowded with cars and trucks, vans, SUVs and motorcycles. There are many different kinds of vehicles, some fast, some slow, some big, some small. Every driver must be aware of the distinctiveness that these vehicles have. Motorcycles can stop more quickly than cars and should be followed at a greater distance. Plus, they are smaller and sometimes difficult to see. On the other hand, large trucks are easy to see; but cutting off one in traffic is extremely dangerous because of the longer stopping distance required. Always drive with an awareness of where the other vehicles are around you. Leave yourself an adequate space cushion on all four sides. 2. COURTESY MAKES ORDER OUT OF CHAOS Driving in a crowded urban environment is a highly demanding and stressful activity, to say the least. It seems like rush hour is more like rush day. Traffic is crawling along and you need to be somewhere quickly. Now, just imagine what would happen if every driver acted on their anger and frustration behind the wheel. Not a pretty picture, is it? Road rage is on the rise and has been the cause of many more problems than needed. When you feel that urge to vent your anger on those around you on the road, take deep breaths and count to ten or put some soft relaxing music on. It sounds silly but may make the difference. You can avoid falling victim to another driver's road rage by not cutting off other drivers. You should always be checking to ensure you have enough room to maneuver and always communicate your intentions by using your signals. Also try to avoid tailgating; drivers tend to get angry when they are being followed to closely. If you find yourself in a situation with a "road raged" driver avoid any and all eye contact. Other drivers can even take a smile as a threat or challenge. Try to get away from the driver as quickly as possible.
3. TREAT OTHER DRIVERS THE WAY YOU WANT TO BE TREATED Remember the Golden Rule? Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. Driving with common courtesy is common sense. If you are a rude, inconsiderate driver you will be
treated the same way. But by being polite, letting the other driver merge... that attitude will more than likely be reflected back to you as well. It is the safest and ONLY way to drive.
II. USE AND MAINTENANCE OF REQUIRED SAFETY EQUIPMENT A. Lighting 1. PURPOSE Three separate lighting systems are required on every motor vehicle. The first system allows you to see where you are going, the second system is used to communicate with other drivers, and the third system makes your vehicle visible to other drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists. High Beams/Low Beams Your headlights must be in full working order if you intend to drive at night. High beams are used for open highway driving in environments where there is little or no area lighting. Your "brights" are focused higher and cast their light farther down the road than your low beams. If you can’t see at least 1000 feet ahead, you should use your high beams. Low beams are for city driving, and are angled at a more downward angle. You also need to use the low setting of your lights in rain, fog, and other conditions that may hinder your sight. Using your high beam headlights in these conditions may cause the light to “feed back” and make things worse. Tail Lights Tail lights allow others to see your vehicle from the rear. They must be red and visible at a distance of at least 1000 feet behind you. Brake Lights Brake lights send a visual signal to the driver(s) behind you that you are decelerating. This will prompt him or her to slow or stop their car as well. Brake lights must be red. Pumping the brake in an emergency stop situation will cause the brake lights to flash on and off rapidly - This is your cue to stop as quickly as possible. Back-up Lights White lights become illuminated at the rear of your vehicle when your car is in reverse gear. These lights must project a white light onto the highway to the rear of the vehicle for a distance of not more than 75 feet. The rear license plate must also be illuminated and visible from at least 50 feet. Turn Signals
Slow or Stop
Flashing turn signal lights are required on all four corners of your vehicle. A turn signal must
precede every change of direction, turn, and lane change. These lane changes or turns must be signaled at least 100 feet in advance. Signaling too late is not only illegal - it is almost as dangerous as no signal at all. Even a turn from a lane marked ‘Left Turn Only’ or ‘Right Turn Only’ must be signaled! Emergency Flashers Drivers must be prepared for trouble. You might be involved in a collision or your vehicle could break down. Section 25251 (a) (2) and (a) (3) permit vehicles to be equipped with an emergency lighting system. These lights flash simultaneously on all four corners, both front and rear. If your vehicle becomes a hazard on the road you will be able to warn other motorists by activating your emergency flashers. 2. HOURS OF USE Headlights must be activated no later than half an hour after sunset and may not be turned off until half an hour before sunrise, and/or any other time when visibility is not sufficient to render clearly discernable any person or vehicle at a distance of 1000 feet. They must also be activated when conditions require windshield wipers to be in continuous use. Many new cars have daytime running lights. These lights increase safety by making vehicles more visible. 3. VISIBILITY REQUIREMENTS All lighting systems on your vehicle must be fully operational and clean at all times. If your vehicle is dirty, the lenses covering your lights may be dirty, also. This will diminish the distance your lights can be seen, thus making you less visible to other drivers. This also severely hampers your own ability to see. So keep your car clean. 4. MAINTENANCE AND PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES Always check to see if your lights are working before driving. If your car has a burned out or broken head or tail light, you could be stopped and handed a 'notice to correct' (Fix-it ticket) or a regular citation. 5. LIGHTING DURING DARKNESS (24250 VC) When driving at night, your vehicle must be equipped with operational lighting equipment. 6. LIGHTING DISTANCE REQUIREMENTS (24251 VC) All lighting distance requirements in the Vehicle Code presuppose a straight, level, and unlit roadway under normal atmospheric conditions, unless otherwise stated. 7. Lighting Equipment Requirements (24252 VC) Every driver must maintain all lighting equipment in top working order. Make sure all bulbs are of the proper voltage and properly installed. The voltage of every lamp socket on your vehicle must be no less than 85 percent of the bulb’s design voltage. 8. Headlamps and Auxiliary Lamps
Headlamps on Motor Vehicles (24400 VC) Two working headlamps are mandatory on every motor vehicle (except motorcycles) during darkness. They should be mounted no higher than 54 inches, and no lower than 22 inches. Auxiliary Driving and Passing Lamps (24402 VC) Optional driving lamps may be utilized on the front of a vehicle if they are mounted no higher than 42 inches, and no lower than 16 inches. Fog lamps (24403, 24602 VC) No more than two fog lamps may be mounted on the front of a vehicle. They should be mounted no higher than 30 inches, and no lower than 12 inches. Fog lamps may be used in conjunction with, but shall not be substitutes for headlamps. Up to two red fog taillamps may be mounted on the back of the vehicle. They may be mounted no higher than 60 inches, and no lower than 12 inches. The edge of these lenses should be at least 4 inches from any brake light. Fog taillamps may only be used in conjunction with headlamps. Multiple Beams (24406 VC) All headlamps on a vehicle, both primary and auxiliary systems, must be arranged so that the driver may select between distributions of light projected to different elevations. Upper and Lower Beams (24407 VC) High beams must be aimed and be of sufficient intensity to reveal persons, vehicles, and other objects at a distance of 350 feet. Low beams must illuminate to a distance of 100 feet. Neither beam should be focused so as to strike the eyes of an approaching driver. Use of Multiple Beams (24409 VC) High beams must be dimmed to low beams when you are within 500 feet of a car approaching from the opposite direction. High beams must be dimmed to low beams when you are following another vehicle at 300 feet or less. Single Beams (24410 VC) On vehicles manufactured and sold prior to September 19, 1940, the headlamps shall not project the high-intensity portion of the light higher than 5 inches below the center of the lamp at a distance of 25 feet when the vehicle is not loaded.
9. REAR LIGHTING EQUIPMENT Tail Lamps (24600 VC) Tail lamps (or running lights) allow others to see your vehicle from the rear. They must be red and visible to 1000 feet behind you. Stop Lamps (24603 VC) Normally referred to as brake lights, there must be two at the rear of your vehicle and they must be red. They must be clearly visible from a distance of at least 300 feet. Back-up Lamps (24606 VC) White lights become illuminated at the rear of your vehicle when your car is in reverse gear. These lights must project a white light that will illuminate the highway to the rear of the vehicle for a distance of not more than 75 feet. Parking Lamps (24800, 24801 VC) No vehicle may be driven at anytime with only the parking lamps lighted. A vehicle shall not be driven at any time with the parking lamps lighted except when the lamps are being used as turn signal lamps or when the headlamps are also lighted. Parking lamps are those lamps permitted by Section 25106, or any lamps mounted on the front of a vehicle, designed to be displayed primarily when the vehicle is parked. 10. SIGNAL LAMPS AND DEVICES Turn Signal System Required (24950 VC) Whenever any motor vehicle is towing a trailer coach or a camp trailer, the combination of vehicles shall be equipped with a lamp-type turn signal system. Turn Signal System (24951 VC) Any vehicle may be equipped with a lamp-type turn signal system capable of clearly indicating any intention to turn right or left. All passenger vehicles, trucks, tractor-trailers, and buses registered after January 1, 1958 must be equipped with turn indicators. Motorcycles registered after January 1, 1973 must have turn indicators mounted no lower than 15 inches. Visibility Requirements of Signals (24952 VC) Turn signals must be visible in normal daylight as well as nighttime from a distance of at least 300 feet to the front and the rear of the vehicle. Turn Signal Lamps (24953 VC) Turn signals must flash either a white or amber light visible to the front of the vehicle, and either a red or amber light visible to the rear. B. BRAKES 1. PURPOSE
Vehicular Control Just think what would happen if your vehicle didn’t have brakes. It would be impossible to reduce your speed, let alone stop. Brakes are one of most important safety feature on a motor vehicle. Brakes work in conjunction with your tires. If your tires have worn-out tread, or are under-inflated, your brakes will not work as well as they should. Knowing how to operate an anti-lock braking system (ABS) properly is a must, even if your own car doesn’t have them. If you ever borrow or rent another car with this system, it will come in handy. NEVER PUMP anti-lock brakes in an emergency stop. Instead, keep constant pressure on the pedal. The ABS will pump the brakes automatically. Pumping antilock brakes will essentially neutralize them. Stopping Requirements The Vehicle Code requires that stop it within 25 feet when actually able to stop a car in author's favorite songs is "Stop your vehicle must have brakes that will traveling at 20mph. Most brakes are an even shorter distance. One of the in the name of love".
2. REQUIRED BRAKE SYSTEMS (26450 VC) The law requires two separate braking systems. The “service brakes” are dual hydraulic and are activated by pressing on the foot pedal. These brakes must stop all four wheels. The parking or emergency brake is a mechanical device (usually operated manually), which will only affect the rear wheels.
3. MAINTENANCE AND PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES (CONDITION OF BRAKES (26453 VC) Your brakes must be in good condition and in good working order at all times. Because brakes are so important, they must be properly maintained. Have your car serviced if you detect any kind of warning sign that might indicate possible brake failure. The action on your foot pedal might feel different or you might hear a strange sound (like a grinding or loud squeaking) when you step on the brake. If the pedal goes all the way down to the floorboard, you probably have a leak in your master cylinder. Don’t ignore these warnings. 4. PARKING BRAKE SYSTEM (26451 VC) The parking brake must be sufficiently strong to hold the vehicle on any grade upon which it can drive under all loading conditions, and on any road surface that is not compromised by snow, ice, or loose material such as gravel. The parking brake must be mechanically applied usually by stepping on a separate brake pedal (often found to the left) or lifting a “hand brake” (usually between the driver and passenger seats). The author enjoys playing baseball in the park. 5. CONDITION OF BRAKES (26453 VC)
All brakes and component parts shall be maintained and kept in good condition and good working order at all times. The brakes shall be adjusted to operate as equally as practicable with respect to wheels on the opposite sides of the vehicle. 6. CONTROL AND STOPPING REQUIREMENTS (26454 VC) Service brakes must be capable of controlling the movement of a vehicle, stopping it, and holding it on any grade upon which it is operated and under all vehicle load conditions. C. WINDSHIELDS AND MIRRORS 1. PURPOSE Visibility The windshield protects the driver and passengers from the outside elements. Not just wind - but precipitation and airborne debris such as pebbles or rocks kicked up by the cars around you, dust, dirt, and insects. A windshield that is dirty or cracked will diminish visibility and make things unsafe. Screening Driving with no windshield at freeway speeds would put a gale-force wind in the driver’s face. This is hardly a safe situation. 2. REQUIREMENTS TO AID VISIBILITY Every motor vehicle on the roadway is required to have an adequate windshield. Motorcycles are the only exceptions to this law. 3. PROHIBITED DEVICES OR EQUIPMENT Any shades or other sun screening devices that are attached to the windows must be temporary in nature (i.e. removable,), and non-reflective. At least 35 percent of the window must remain unobstructed. Transparent materials must be gray, green, or neutral smoke in color, reflective, and may reduce normal transparency by no more than 35 percent. It is illegal to have anything hanging from the rear-view mirror that obstructs the driver’s vision. 4. MAINTENANCE A driver with a cracked windshield may be cited for a violation and if cited, ordered to correct the violation within 48 hours.
5. WINDSHIELDS (26700 VC) Motorcycles and some collector’s cars manufactured in the early 20th century are not required to have windshields. All other passenger vehicles on the road must have an adequate shatterresistant windshield.
6. WINDSHIELD WIPERS (26706 VC) If your vehicle is equipped with a windshield, it must also be equipped with automatic, self-operating windshield wipers.
7. CONDITIONS AND USE OF WINDSHIELD WIPERS (26707 VC) The law requires that wipers must be in working condition at all times and under all weather conditions. If your wipers make visibility worse by leaving streaks or smears, you need to replace them immediately! 8. MATERIALS OBSTRUCTING OR REDUCING DRIVER’S VIEW (26708 VC) No person shall drive any motor vehicle with any object or material placed, displayed, installed, affixed, or applied on the windshield or side or rear windows that obstructs or reduces the driver's clear view through the windshield or the side windows. Stickers and decals are legal only in certain positions
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Side windows, which are to the rear of the driver 5-inch square bottom left front windshield 7-inch square bottom right front windshield 7-inch square bottom right rear window
For the purpose of reducing ultraviolet rays, drivers may apply colorless and transparent materials to the front side windows; if the driver has in his or her possession a certificate signed by the installing company certifying that the material meets the requirements of the vehicle code. However, this material must be removed and replaced if it becomes bubbled, torn or worn. 9. MIRRORS (26709 VC) Most drivers should have all three mirrors. Mirrors must be capable of reflecting a view of the highway for a distance of at least 200 feet to the rear of the vehicle. Every motor vehicle is subject to California registration, except a motorcycle, must have two rear view mirrors. One mirror must be affixed to the left-hand side of the vehicle. The other mirror may be mounted in the interior or on the right-hand side of the vehicle. All vehicles registered in a foreign jurisdiction (out of state) and all motorcycles must have at least one rear view mirror so located as to reflect to the driver a view of the highway for a distance of 200 feet to the rear. Vehicles must have two rear view mirrors, one mounted on the left-hand side and one mounted on the right-hand side if the vehicle is so constructed or loaded as to obstruct the driver's view to the rear, or if the vehicle is towing another vehicle when the towed vehicle, or it's load, obstructs the driver's view to the rear. 10. DEFECTIVE WINDSHIELDS AND REAR WINDOWS (26710 VC) If your windshield or rear window is in such a condition that it hampers your vision - either to the front or the rear of your vehicle - then you are in violation of the law.
D. HORN 1. PURPOSE The horn is your warning system to other motorists and pedestrians. The horn is an absolute must when protecting one’s self on the road. The author played the baritone horn in high school band. Warning Device There is a difference between using your horn for safety reasons and using your horn to let other people know you are upset with them. A tap of the horn is usually enough to alert another driver or a pedestrian if you think they don’t see you. 2. USE You may only use your horn to insure your safety and the safety of others. This includes avoiding a collision or warning others that you are near a "blind spot." Try not to honk your horn in anger, frustration or to notify the driver in front of you that the light has turned green. This can irritate other drivers, contribute to road rage and make your trip less safe. 3. AUDIBLE DISTANCE The horn must be loud enough to hear at a minimum distance of 200 feet. 4. PROHIBITIVE AMPLIFICATION A customized horn may be illegal. You can be cited if an officer considers it to be ‘unreasonably loud or harsh.’ And sirens are legal only on emergency vehicles. Most car alarms are wired to the horn. But remember, if your car alarm sounds for more than 20 minutes, it can be towed away by the police. 5. MAINTENANCE It is illegal to drive without a horn in good working condition. Your horn could save your life or someone else’s. Make sure it is working properly. 6. HORNS OR WARNING DEVICES (27000 VC) Every motor vehicle shall be equipped with a horn in good working order, and shall be audible for a distance of at least 200 feet. 7. USE OF HORN (27001 VC) The driver of a motor vehicle - when reasonably necessary to insure safe operation - shall give audible warning with his (or her) horn. E. TIRES 1. PURPOSE
Your tires are the only things between your vehicle and the road. They provide control during all phases of movement: acceleration, deceleration, cruising, and turning. Good tires are essential to being safe on the road. Vehicle Control The area your tires cover at any given time is only a matter of inches. All your control is there. A tire in good condition increases the amount of control by decreasing the chances of skidding or slipping. Traction Traction has to do with the friction that enables the tires to move your vehicle along the pavement. The inflation and amount of tread on your tire will make the difference in your level of traction. Without traction a vehicle would not be able to accelerate, slow down, stop, or change direction. Think about the last time you walked on ice and you will see how important traction is.
2. REQUIRED CONDITION, INFLATION, AND TREAD There are a number of factors that may influence your tire wear. Their inflation, how many miles you put on them, whether you drive hard or easy, vehicle suspension and steering, and of course, the types of road surfaces you tend to be on. Tire treads are designed to provide traction and to push any water on the road out of the way. After a while, with much use the tire treads wear smooth. Tires should be replaced before they become bald. Tread wear indicators (TWI) or tread bars, are required on all tires. When the tread is worn down you will see a horizontal band of rubber across the tire. It‘s time for some new tires! 3. MAINTENANCE It’s a good idea to not wait until your tire is in pieces on the freeway before you think about checking them. Every once in a while, check for bulges or splits in the sidewalls or tread. If you see a sharp object stuck in the tire, you might want to let a professional remove it. The tire factory lets you know the proper inflation by printing it on the side of the tire, next to the size. Keep in mind, driving in extreme heat or cold will warrant variations in tire pressure. When getting new tires, make sure they are balanced before installation and they should be rotated every 6,00010,000 miles to allow for proper wear of the tread. 4. TREAD DEPTH OF PNEUMATIC TIRES (27465 VC) No person shall use a pneumatic tire on a vehicle axle when the tire has less than 1/32 of an inch tread depth in any two adjacent grooves at any location on the tire. F. SAFETY BELTS Seat belts save lives, plain and simple. Yet many people still die needlessly in car crashes because they didn’t buckle up. Since 1968, all cars are equipped with lap belts and shoulder belts by law. There are other restraint systems available, such as front and side impact
airbags. However, seat belts and airbags are responsible for saving thousands of lives every year. No dealer shall sell or offer for sale any used passenger vehicle that was manufactured on or after January 1, 1968, other than a motorcycle, unless it is equipped with at least two seatbelts that are installed for the use of persons in the front seat of the vehicle. 1. PURPOSE Not only do seat belts prevent drivers and passengers from being thrown out of the vehicle in a collision, but they also hold the driver in position during sudden steering and braking maneuvers. This gives the driver more control of the vehicle. There have been many situations where after the initial impact the driver is still able to prevent his vehicle from hitting others. This is much more difficult to do if the driver is in the passenger seat! Please keep in mind that both the shoulder and lap belts are equally important. The lap belt will keep you in the car but will not prevent you from folding at the waist and hitting your head or upper body against the steering column and the dash. The shoulder harness prevents that so, NEVER disable the shoulder belt by tucking it under your arm! And if you have a car that has automatic belts that come on after the door is closed, you still need to put the lap belt on manually. If you don’t, you can slide under the shoulder harness and injure yourself that way. Reduce Injuries and Fatalities Statistics don’t lie. You are twice as likely to survive a collision if you are wearing a seatbelt. Check this out:
Seat belt + air-bag reduces fatalities 70% Seat belt alone reduces fatalities 60% Granted, there are some drivers and passengers who claim to have survived collisions because they were not buckled. They are what we call “the exception to the rule.” The odds of being one of those are worse than winning the lottery. They won’t be so lucky next time. And for many, there may not be a next time.
2. USE OF SEATBELTS As we have said, all vehicles manufactured since 1968 come equipped with seatbelts as standard equipment. You can get pulled over specifically for not wearing them. It is also a violation to disable the shoulder belt by tucking it under your arm. A collector car manufactured before 1968 without seat belts as standard equipment is an exception to the seat-belt law (as long as it is not driven every day). This is an accommodation to car collectors who, if forced to install non-standard equipment, would have their investment devalued. However, it doesn't change the law of physics that states if a classic car is going 60 mph and suddenly stops due to a collision, the unrestrained driver will continue on at 60mph, usually through the windshield or into the dash. However, regardless of the year of the car, anyone 16 years of age or younger must be provided a seat belt. 3. MAINTENANCE
Seatbelts must always be in top working condition, so check them for signs of wear. Any tears in the fabric or fraying are dangerous. Get them fixed or replaced. Some people think that just because the belt is not in a locked position all the time that there is something wrong with it. Not true. Seat belts are supposed to have some give for comfort and safety purposes. (Have you ever tried to look behind you with the belt locked? Not easy!) To test the belt, give the shoulder harness a quick pull. It should lock. If it doesn’t, you might want to have the belt checked. Better safe than sorry. 4. SAFETY BELTS: REQUIREMENTS (27315 VC) No person shall operate a motor vehicle on a highway unless that person and all passengers are properly restrained. A person may not operate a motor vehicle on a highway unless that person and all passengers 16 years of age or over are properly restrained by a safety belt. There are some exceptions to the seat belt rule: taxi and limousine drivers; a driver with a medical condition that doesn't allow for the use of a belt and emergency personnel such as firemen, paramedics and police. The law allows for penalty assessments and court costs to be added to the maximum fine imposed on first and subsequent seat belt violations, thus raising the maximum amount of the fine that may be imposed. TRUNKING – 21712 VC When two teenagers died after riding in the trunk of a friend’s car, the California Legislature passed a trunking law banning this practice. Drivers will be charged with a misdemeanor if they knowingly allow a person from riding in the trunk of a vehicle. Passengers who are found riding in the trunk also will be charged with an infraction. Many people, particularly teenagers, often ride in the trunk of their friends’ cars. This may be because there are not enough seat belts or the driver is too young to have passengers. However, this practice is very dangerous because car trunks are designed to carry cargo, not passengers. They are also designed to collapse in a crash, which would crush anything – or anyone – in the trunk. Remember to secure all your passengers properly in safety belts. NEVER let them sit where they cannot be properly restrained. 5. CHILD PASSENGER SEAT RESTRAINTS: REQUIREMENTS (27360 VC) As of January 1, 2002, child seat requirements have been made more stringent. The law now states that every child under six years of age or weighing less than 60 pounds must ride in an approved child restraint seat. A booster seat will probably be necessary for a small child once he is out of his car seat to allow the seat belt to accommodate his tiny body more safely and effectively. The law requires that a child under 6 years or under 60 pounds riding in an approved child restraint seat must be secured in the rear seat of the vehicle. A child is allowed to be secured in the front seat of the vehicle if:
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There is no rear seat The rear seats are side facing jump seats The rear seats are rear-facing seats The restraint system cannot be installed properly in the rear seat All rear seats are occupied by children under the age of 12 years Medical reasons necessitate that the child not ride in the rear
A child may not ride in the front seat of a motor vehicle with an active passenger air bag if they are under one year of age, weigh less than 20 pounds, or riding in a rear-facing child passenger restraint system. KAITLYN'S LAW -15620 V.C. A small child named Kaitlyn died in a parked vehicle when she was left for two hours in 100º heat. In response to this tragedy, the California Vehicle Code has been amended. It now prohibits parents or guardians from leaving a child six years old or younger in a vehicle unattended when the vehicle’s engine is running, the keys are left in the ignition, or there is a significant risk to the child. The message is this: NEVER leave your children behind in the car when you exit. To bring them along is not just a good idea: under the terms stated above, it is also the law. SMOKING IN MOTOR VEHICLES Section 118948 of the Health and Safety Code makes it unlawful to smoke a pipe, cigar or cigarette in a motor vehicle, whether in motion or at rest, in which there is a minor, or person under the age of 18. This is a secondary offense, meaning you won’t be stopped simply for this violation. Children often have no choice but to breathe the same air as their smoking parents when riding in the car, particularly those strapped in their child seats. There is also another problem with breathing the air inside a car: cigarette smoke is concentrated and more hazardous than in a place such as the home, even with the windows cracked open. The bodies of children are still developing, so secondhand smoke is more damaging to their health than to adults. Don’t smoke when you are around children, particularly when inside your car. MORE TIPS FOR CHILDREN‘S SAFETY:
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NEVER put a child in a car seat that has a passenger-side air bag in front of it. They are at a height and weight that can be dangerous when struck by an airbag. Babies less than one year of age and less than 20 pounds must be in a rear-facing child seat in the center of the back seat (which is the safest place in your vehicle, since it is the point farthest removed from front, rear and side impact collisions.) Be sure the child seat is properly installed and please, buckle in the child! The child seat should not be able to move more than about an inch in any direction. Have children ride in the back seat. The Safety Council recommends waiting until your child is 12 years old and around 100 pounds before he or she rides up front. Never use a second-hand child safety seat. If it was involved in a collision before you had it, it can be dangerous. (Be sure to discard yours if it has been in a collision.) And common sense says, any child seat more than ten years old should be replaced.
III. DEFENSIVE DRIVING (Plus Pertinent Traffic Laws & Attitudes) To be a defensive driver, you must be able to anticipate problems before they happen. You can only do this by paying attention. Anything you do while driving that is not directly related to operating your vehicle can be dangerous to you and others. A. DRIVING COURTESY AND ATTITUDE Common courtesy makes sense especially on the freeway moving at 60+ mph. Drivers with bad attitudes who demonstrate rude and sometimes reckless behavior behind the wheel oftentimes cause collisions. They feel invincible surrounded by all that steel. 1. BE AS COURTEOUS WHILE DRIVING AS IN OTHER SOCIAL CONTACTS When you drive, you should always behave as you would when you meet someone walking or in a supermarket. The other driver is neither your enemy nor your competition. If you were pushing your shopping cart in the store and someone accidentally bumped your cart, would you yell or give them an obscene gesture? Probably not (we hope!) Try not to be rude or abusive while in your car. Be courteous and considerate. It may even start a snowball effect. If you are nice to someone, they might be nice to someone else and so on, and so on. 2. RIGHT-OF-WAY Many people are unclear of this concept; the law may say you can proceed but you should make sure you don’t unless the other driver(s) allow you to. Never assume that a car will stop just because it’s your turn. The other driver may not be paying attention or just not want to follow the law. When to Use It The other driver must surrender right-of-way before you can take it. In situations that require a four way stop; be sure to make eye contact to confirm that it is safe to proceed. When to Give It Up If the other driver fails to surrender the right-of-way, don‘t fight back thinking “I have the law on my side.” And if you’re not sure of the law, let the other driver go before you. When two cars arrive at a four way stop at the same time, the car on the right always has the right-ofway. Little known fact: If a Fire truck, a police car, an ambulance and a postal service vehicle come to a four way stop at the same time, the law states that the postal vehicle has the right of way due to it being a federal vehicle while the others are state. 3. STRESS, ANGER, EMOTION AND FATIGUE Are you stressed out? Is life challenging right now? Drivers are not only distracted by things in their vehicles (cell phone, maps, their lunch, crying babies) they are also distracted by what’s going on in their life. What is your state of mind behind the wheel? Do you get angry easily? Don’t bring your problems into the car. Any emotion can be a dangerous distraction to a driver. Maybe you just got a raise or other piece of good news. You may feel like you can take on the world. It is very easy to get lost in those feelings and not pay as much attention as you should. When cell phones were first introduced, they got a lukewarm reception.
Falling asleep behind the wheel is also a dangerous situation. If you are fighting to stay awake, you should change drivers or get off the road and take a nap in a well lit public place, such as a parking lot. If you are in an area where you can’t pull over and you are alone, here are a couple of tips to help you stay awake:
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Roll down your window, often times the wind in your face is very helpful. Turn your radio up and tune it to music you are least inclined to listen to. Your adrenaline will increase. Eat something like sunflower seeds. The act of opening the shell with your mouth actually keeps you awake. Keep a spray bottle filled with water and when you feel like you might start to nod off, spray the back of your neck. If you keep the bottle in the fridge until you leave, it helps all the more. This is especially good on long trips.
How Does Emotion Affect Driving? Angry drivers are reckless ones. They tend to drive too fast and take more chances, often displaying a vicious disregard for anyone’s safety. On the other hand, laughter might cause you to squeeze your eyes shut or tilt back. You could miss a stop sign. So stay calm, cool, and well rested. How to Recognize It Most drivers get angry from time to time. Some are angry ALL the time. If you are one who loses your temper you must do whatever you can to manage your emotions. In extreme cases of road rage, drivers have lost their lives. Anybody in a state of rage is a possible threat to everyone. The law authorizes the court to order suspension of the driving privilege of any operator of a motor vehicle who commits an assault, commonly known as "road rage", on another driver. The suspension period for an assault is six months for the first offense and one year for a second or subsequent offense. The court may, in lieu of or in addition to the driving privilege suspension, order a person convicted under this section to complete a court approved anger management or "road rage" course. How to Avoid Becoming a Victim
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Avoid driving in the left (fast) lane -Emotional drivers tend to drive faster than the speed limit and get frustrated easier, so they hate to be slowed down. The best thing is to stay out of their way! Try to only use this lane if you are passing another vehicle. Always make sure you have a space cushion - Drivers may tend to get violent so avoid driving too close to them. Avoid eye contact - Angry drivers who are upset about something may take this personally and think that you are challenging them. Remember to be courteous - Some drivers tend to cut people off. Don't take it personal and try to cut them off as well. Instead, signal before you turn to alert other drivers of your intentions.
Collision Potential What exactly is the danger? A collision! A driver who is stressed, emotional or asleep at the wheel stands a much greater chance of colliding with another vehicle. It’s tough enough to stay safe on the road when you’re calm and alert. Don’t make it more difficult by allowing your emotions to get in the way.
B. ADJUSTING TO THE DRIVING ENVIRONMENT The driving environment has a way of constantly changing. Day into night. Sunshine into rain. Hot to cold. We must also change the way we drive to meet the demands of these different driving conditions. For example, if a driver fails to adapt to a wet road by increasing the space cushion and slowing down, that driver is begging for trouble. 1. DAYTIME VS. NIGHTTIME Visibility is a crucial factor in driving. It stands to reason that the more you can see the safer you will be. Clearly, one can see better during the day. Visibility is usually limited only by obstructions in the road. But at night your vision is limited to what is revealed in the light produced by your headlights. Also, glare off the headlights of oncoming vehicles can be a problem. Depth perception is limited. Plus, as you scan the roadway your eyes must constantly adjust to a wide range of lighting intensities oncoming headlights, taillights, illuminated signs, etc. Night driving presents other challenges as well. We have a natural tendency to be tired at night. Many drivers are less alert at precisely the time driving conditions demand that they pay extra attention. Also, the odds of meeting a drunk driver on the road are greater at night. Visibility On the other hand, too much sunlight can be a bad thing. All of us have probably driven on the freeway or highway heading right into a blazing sunset. Use visors and sunglasses to reduce glare. At night, always give yourself a greater safety buffer when changing lanes. Driving at night on an open highway with no area lighting can be dangerous in the sense that some drivers will actually ‘overdrive’ their headlights -- in other words, drive ahead of their lights. Excessive speed is the cause. Speed The posted speed limit is for driving under ideal conditions, daylight visibility and a dry road. But the speed limit is just that, the limit. During the day, always drive at the speed limit or slower, depending upon conditions, but never over the limit. Unfortunately, so many people think the limit is the jumping off point and tend to drive 10-20 mph faster. Then they are surprised when they get a ticket for speeding! At night, a safe driver will analyze the road as well as his or her own state of alertness and adjust speed accordingly. Plan Your Route Know where you’re going and how to get there before you embark on your trip. By doing this, you decrease your chances of dividing your attention between the road and trying to find your way around. And how many times have you found yourself behind the guy who is creeping slowly down a street, while looking for street numbers! Driving on well lit streets whenever possible is another good tip. 2. WEATHER Slow down when it’s coming down! Rain, snow, sleet, and ice are all hazardous to your safety. Rain, Fog, Snow
It is said that the most dangerous time is during the first 30 minutes of a rainstorm. When the water first hits the road it becomes slick from the oil and grease that has been seeping into the pavement for years and rises to the surface when the moisture hits it. The most dangerous rain is a light drizzle after a long dry spell. Drivers are either not intimidated by a few drops so they fail to reduce speed or can‘t handle any change in the weather so they overdue the cautious driving. Remember, the road still gets very slick very quickly and since not a lot of rain is coming down to wash away the slippery grime, it stays slick longer. Fog is extremely frightening; especially when it gets so bad you can't see a thing. Driving in heavy fog is like driving with a blindfold. Get off the road if you can. Do not pull onto the shoulder and stop; another vehicle with the same idea might strike you from behind. If you must remain on the road, reduce your speed (don't go too slowly, however). Try locating the white line on the side of the road or the center stripe to guide you. Use your fog-lamps. It might help to put on your hazard lights. Never use high beams (brights) in the fog; the light will reflect back. If you’re planning on driving in the snow, your car should be equipped with snow tires and/or chains. In some parts of the state, the police will not allow you to proceed if you are not so equipped. Falling, swirling snow reduces visibility much more than rain, so reduce speed and leave more of a space cushion. The Four Seasons is a fancy hotel in California. Braking Distance It takes your vehicle two-to-three times longer to stop when the road is wet. Tire traction is reduced on a wet road and that increases braking distance. This is another good time to slow down while increasing following distance. Nasty weather conditions demand a much greater degree of ‘defense’ behind the wheel so keep your eyes moving and anticipate trouble before it happens. Speed Speeding in wet weather will increase your chances of losing control or colliding with another vehicle. Driving 65 mph (the speed limit) on the freeway during a rainstorm is illegal. You are driving too fast for conditions and can be written up under the basic speed law. Wet Roads Many people underestimate the risk of driving in the rain and overestimate their own driving skills and/or the ability of their tires to handle diminished traction. Slow down! Wet roads can be extremely treacherous. Slippery Brakes tend to become wet when driving in the rain or on a wet road after the rain stops. Be sure to test your brakes. You will then be in a better position to react properly when you need to brake for real. If you do go into a skid, ease your foot off the gas and do not step on the brake. Steer the front of the car in the direction the rear end skids. It’s actually a reflex action to do this. If the front of the car starts to head to the left, you wouldn’t turn the steering wheel that way! Just be careful to not “overcorrect”. This could cause you to spin completely around. The most important thing to do in a skid is to not panic.
Hydroplaning Hydroplaning occurs when your tires lose contact with the road because they are riding or floating on a thin layer of water. It can also occur because of low tire tread, speed or improper inflation. This occurs usually during heavy rain or when there is a large puddle on the road. If you hydroplane you may not be able to steer or brake. You can regain control by releasing the accelerator and pushing in the clutch. This will slow your vehicle and let the wheels turn freely. If the vehicle is hydroplaning, do not use the brakes to slow down. If the drive wheels start to skid, push in the clutch to let them turn freely. If you follow in the tracks of the vehicle in front of you, the risk of hydroplaning will be reduced. The risk is usually greatest during heavy rain or when there is a large puddle on the road. In order to avoid hydroplaning, slow down when there is a lot of water on the road. In a heavy rain, your tires can lose all contact with the road at about 50 mph. Be especially careful driving through puddles. See and Be Seen It’s as important to be seen, as it is to see. Always turn on your headlights if you’re driving in the rain. Your vehicle will be more visible. Windshield wipers are important here, too. If your wipers are not clearing water off the windshield quickly enough (assuming your blades are in good condition) you are driving too fast. Reduce speed and you’ll notice your wipers will be working better. Windshields can fog up in the rain. Use your defroster (warmer air defrosts more quickly), or slightly open a couple of windows. Do everything you can to have the most visibility. 3. ROAD CONDITIONS Defensive drivers need to figure out the condition of the driving surface and adjust their driving technique accordingly. Soft Shoulders Country roads often have a soft shoulders made up of packed dirt or gravel. If you swerve onto a soft shoulder at high speed, you could lose control of your vehicle. Slow down on these roads. Drop offs A drop off is when the asphalt abruptly ends on the right. It could be a drop of as much as four or five inches to a soft shoulder. If your right wheels leave the pavement take your foot off the gas, straddle the edge of the road, and slowly steer left. But be careful, if you turn your wheel too sharply you might lose control of your vehicle and fishtail into oncoming traffic. And if your wheels scrape against the drop off, you may need to drive completely onto the shoulder and reenter the road from a dead stop. One of the author's favorite tropical fish is the red tail. Bad Pavement Always scan ahead to be prepared for changes in road conditions. Slow down if the road surface is in bad condition. Potholes, cracked asphalt, and loose debris could get you into trouble. Seasonal Hazards Every Season experiences its own hazard. During the summer it’s blinding sunsets, spring and winter bring the heavy rains, and Santa Ana winds blow in the fall. These are just some of the
special problems drivers encounter at different times throughout the year. The defensive driver anticipates and adapts to these hazards. 4. INTERSECTIONS Intersections can be a particularly dangerous part of the road. Many collisions in city driving occur there. Why? The reason is simple: the intersection is occupied by not only cars, but pedestrians and cyclists as well. If everyone is paying attention and doing what they are supposed to, the risk of a collision decreases. Cars moving in opposite directions have the potential for doing serious damage to themselves and their occupants. It seems as though everyone is trying to get somewhere in a hurry so there is a good chance that someone will try to “make” the light, turn left before you get to the middle, or just end up driving in your lane.
As a defensive driver, always be aware when approaching, entering, or leaving an intersection. Marked/Unmarked Busy intersections are usually controlled with signal lights, stop signs, and/or yield signs. Unmarked intersections - usually very lightly traveled - are not controlled by signs. When you approach always slow down to 15 mph and scan left, right, and left again before proceeding. Signaling Distance All changes of direction must be preceded by a signal 100 feet prior to the maneuver being made. Whether a turn or a lane change, signaling too late is as bad as no signal at all. Speed Some streets do not have posted signs to tell us the speed limit. We usually drive at 35 mph on most surface streets. But on a business or residential street that has no sign, the speed limit is only 25 mph! Learn the speed limits on all the different types of roads and you will be much better off. Stopping Limits
At most intersections you are required to stop before the first crosswalk line otherwise known as the limit line. But sometimes, there may be a short line before the crosswalk you must stop there. If there is no visible limit line, then the place to stop is an imaginary line from curb to curb. Signal, Controlled
RED LIGHT - stop
FLASHING RED - stop and proceed when safe YELLOW LIGHT prepare to stop FLASHING YELLOW - reduce speed but proceed with caution GREEN LIGHT - proceed with caution *REMEMBER: Contrary to popular belief, Green does not mean GO. Green means GO when it’s safe! And Yellow does not mean GO FASTER! RED ARROW - no turn in the direction the arrow is pointing *REMEMBER: If you are in the left lane with a Red Arrow and the cars to your right have a Green light, you still cannot GO! YELLOW ARROW - protected turning time is ending. Prepare to stop. If the traffic signal is out, treat the intersection as a four way stop. BLACKED OUT SIGNAL LIGHT- If a traffic signal light is not working because of an electrical power failure, stop at the intersection and proceed as if the intersection is controlled by a stop sign in all directions. 5. CITY, FREEWAY, OPEN ROADWAY, MOUNTAIN Different roads demand different driving skills. You should be ready to adjust your technique at any time to handle changes in driving environments. Speed As a licensed driver, you must know the posted speed limit on all roadways. The two ways of accomplishing this are: observing the posted speed limit signs and/or learning the “prima facie” or unposted speed limits.
Following Distance As a defensive driver you must always try to follow the car ahead of you at a safe distance. That distance is called the “3 Second Rule.” Here’s how it works: Look up ahead at the car in front of you and select a fixed object. This could be anything, as long as it’s not moving: a sign, a lamppost, a tree or other landmarks. When the vehicle you are following passes that fixed object, start to count: One-one-thousand, two-one-thousand, three-one-thousand. At three-one-thousand, you should be passing that same fixed object. Because of the different speeds on different roads, the 3 Second Rule is the best way to keep that “space cushion.” There is a count just before a rocket gets sent into space. Braking Distance As your speed increases, so does the distance you need to stop your vehicle. At 35 mph it should take you approximately 100 feet to stop. But at 65 mph the stopping distance more than quadruples! It takes more than a football field to stop. Braking distance is also affected by the condition of your brakes and your tires and the condition /grade of the road. Not to mention the weight of your vehicle. Signaling Distance As speed increases, so should the signaling distance. In the city, signaling 100 feet prior to turning is considered safe. But consider the freeway: At 65 mph your vehicle travels 100 feet in one second. If you signal a lane change 100 feet early on the freeway, that’s only one second of warning you have given the car behind you! To be safe, a signaling distance of 500 feet on the freeway is recommended. This equals closer to roughly five seconds. Traffic Conditions Traffic conditions are constantly changing. As a defensive driver, one must always be ready to respond to whatever challenges arise. Passing Passing on a two-lane road is an extremely dangerous maneuver. It is the only time a driver is allowed to proceed in an opposing lane of traffic. Always exercise extreme caution when passing another vehicle. Make sure you have plenty of room and time before, during and after you pass. Too many lives have been lost because a driver failed to judge the distance of an oncoming vehicle. Open Roadway Before you pass, ask yourself this question: ‘Is passing necessary here?’ If the vehicle in front of you is driving at the speed limit, the only way to pass would be to exceed the speed limit, which, of course is against the law. Watch the center lines. If the line is solid on your side of the road, YOU MAY NOT PASS. If the line on your side is broken, you may pass -- BUT ONLY WHEN SAFE. BE SURE TO:
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Check the stripes in the road Scan ahead for oncoming vehicles Signal your intention
Pass as quickly as possible Don’t reenter the lane until you can see the entire front of the vehicle you passed in your rear-view mirror.
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More than one vehicle at a time When the yellow line on your side is solid When approaching a grade or a curve When within 100 feet of a bridge, viaduct, railroad crossing or tunnel
V.C. Section 21752, states that no vehicle shall be driven to the left side of the roadway under the following conditions: (a) When approaching or upon the crest of a grade or a curve in the highway where the driver's view is obstructed within such distance as to create a hazard in the event another vehicle might approach from the opposite direction. (b) When the view is obstructed upon approaching within 100 feet of any bridge, viaduct, or tunnel. (c) When approaching within 100 feet of or when traversing any railroad grade crossing. (d) When approaching within 100 feet of or when traversing any intersection. (This section shall not apply upon a one-way roadway). Mountains Driving on mountain roads presents a number of challenges. If you are caught behind a slow moving truck, which is struggling to make it up a steep grade, you will feel compelled to pass. This is a mistake, unless you are facing a straight road ahead, and even then, that may be risky. Passing on a downhill slope can be extremely dangerous. Accelerating down a steep grade might send you speeding out-of-control. And your vehicle may not have sufficient power to accelerate on a steep upgrade to the degree necessary to pass successfully. Know the road and your vehicle! 6. DRIVING DISTRACTIONS Did you know that as of January 2001 law enforcement officers are required to report specified known or suspected driving distractions to have been associated with a traffic collision? If you are distracted you can’t be a defensive driver. Remember, on the freeway at 65 mph you are traveling 100 feet every second. If you hit the brake a second later than you should have, that’s 100 feet extra you shouldn’t have traveled. Bad things can happen in small distances. So anything that takes a driver’s attention away from the safe operation of their motor vehicle will drastically increase his or her chances of being involved in a collision. Distractions Inside the Vehicle Let’s go over some of the more popular distractions:
Talking on the cell phone -- This is not only very popular in Southern California, this particular distraction is very common in many other busy cities and states. Many people are either bored in their car or feel that they are wasting precious time by just "driving". So they hop on the phone. This automatically cuts into your attention span. Have you ever been on the phone while driving and had a close call (pun intended)? Maybe you found yourself swerving a little too much or ended up almost rear ending the car in front of you. You may pause for a second and think "wow, that was close!" Unfortunately, most people in this situation will go right back to the phone! Beginning on July 1, 2008, you won’t be able to gab away while holding your cell phone in traffic! That’s because on this date, using your handheld cell phone while driving becomes illegal. The only way you can continue driving and using your cell phone is if you use a headset or any hands-free device. The idea is to keep both hands on the steering wheel. But if you are under 18, you won’t be able to use any type of wireless device, including cell phones, text messaging devices and laptop computers, except in life-threatening emergencies. It’s just an unfortunate fact that teens are generally more easily distracted, so this ban removes one of the more prevalent distractions. Consuming food and beverages -- If you spill something on yourself or your car, the natural tendency is to look down and try to minimize the damage. Right there, you have taken your eyes off the road and have become a hazard. Applying make-up -- A few years back, a woman was in her car stopped at a light. She thought this was a good time to use her lipstick. The driver coming up behind her didn't notice she had stopped for the light due to his being on the phone and rammed into the back of her car. I won't go into the gory details but I think you can figure out what happened. Other common distractions -- Shaving, reading, interacting with passengers, and fiddling with radio/tape/CD player are just a few more of the dangerous distractions people are doing while driving their 2000+ pound weapon.
Distractions Outside the Vehicle These include but are not limited to: looking for street numbers, rubbernecking at collision scenes, reading billboards. If you must divide your attention, don‘t focus on just one thing. Keep your eyes moving. Learn to glance back and forth, both quickly and intermittently. C. Collision CAUSATION Collisions happen. Most drivers will experience at least one in their lifetime of driving. Understanding why collisions happen may help to avoid them. According to a California Highway Patrol Report, the primary collision factors that occur on roadways are: SPEED Most drivers will speed at one time or another. However, the more one speeds, the better their chances of a collision. Many people speed because they feel it will get them there faster; some, because they are simply not paying attention. A conscious effort needs to be made to watch your speed. Not just to avoid a ticket, but to miss that collision. AUTO RIGHT OF WAY It seems that almost every day, there is a collision at the intersection you go through on your way to work. That's because many people don't understand the concept of "right of way". IMPROPER TURNING The number one accident at a crossway is when one vehicle is making a left hand turn while
another vehicle is directly approaching them. Remember, in most cases the car going straight has the right of way. STOP SIGNS AND OTHER SIGNS Disobeying or just not seeing signs are the fourth major cause of collisions. Some drivers do this deliberately while others fall victim to lack of sleep, distractions and just plain not thinking. DUI It has become painfully obvious through T.V., newspapers and every other medium that DUI is a major cause of collisions. This subject is an extremely serious issue and as such will be covered in great depth later in the course. Understanding why collisions happen may help to avoid them. It is not polite to stare. 1. MENTAL Emotions, fatigue, and lack of concentration are the cause for numerous accidents. An accident can occur from a daydreaming or upset driver. It is imperative that when you are about to operate a motor vehicle that you have are focused on the task of driving. 2. PHYSICAL Operating a motor vehicle requires focus, quick reflexes and decision making, which can be demanding on your body. All people are different and can endure different levels of physical pressure. Factors of age, medication, and fatigue can affect your physical state. Not exceed your limitations will help you avoid collisions. 3. ENVIRONMENT Although the environment is usually not the cause of an accident; the driver's response to the environment is. Whether it is rain, fog or wind, you should be ready to react to any condition at any time. Being prepared can save you. 4. VISUAL HABITS How many times have you thought to yourself, 'that car came out of nowhere!' If you say even once, that is one too many. As the operator of a motor vehicle you should be constantly scanning, checking your mirrors and checking your blind spots. By establishing and utilizing good visual habits you are avoiding possible collisions. 5. OTHER DRIVERS Other drivers can be dangerous. By their lack of concentration they can place themselves and you in hazardous situations. Be on look out and know what's going on around you. You may be the one who has to make a decision, which can save peoples lives. Be prepared! 6. Collision TYPES Intersections Many collisions happen at intersections. Be sure to scan left, right, and then left again. Some drivers don’t merely roll through stop signs, they fly through them at high speeds! There are
many factors that contribute to heightened chances of a crash at intersections: changing traffic lights; pedestrians crossing the street and turning vehicles are but a few. Blind 22352(a1b) V.C If the intersection has no controls, meaning no signal lights or traffic control signs of any type, you must slow your vehicle to 15 mph while traversing the intersection if during the last 100 feet of your approach you do not have a clear and unobstructed view of the cross traffic for a distance of 100 feet in each direction. 22352(a)(1)(b) V.C.
This is simple common sense! Plus, If the view up the cross street to your left and right is obstructed (for example, a residential street lined with trees), it might be necessary to slow to a crawl or even come to a complete stop to make sure you can cross the intersection safely. Right-of-Way When you are facing a triangular sign that reads YIELD, always yield the right-of-way. You must allow all cross traffic to proceed before you. Here are some other examples of when you should yield:
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Yield for emergency vehicles that are sounding a siren and displaying red lights. Stay clear of any intersection, pull to the right and stop. Remain stopped until the emergency vehicle has passed. The surrounding traffic must yield to all emergency vehicles (both sides of the roadway) as well. When you come to a four-way stop situation in which two cars arrive at the same time, the car on the left must yield to the car on the right. If two cars arrive at a four-way stop at the same time from opposing directions - one car signaling a left turn and the other car wanting to proceed straight ahead - the left turn must yield for the car proceeding straight. At a ‘T’ intersection, the car approaching on the street that ends must yield to through traffic. (Although there will probably be a stop sign controlling the intersection.) Yield to a pedestrian crossing the street. Sometimes a pedestrian in the middle of the street will wave you on when you try to stop for him or her. If you go you can get a ticket! Stay stopped until the pedestrian gets the hint. Indicate to the pedestrian that you are going to wait for them to proceed. Left turn and U-turn must yield to all other traffic except right-turn-on-red
Right-turn-on-red yields for EVERYBODY vehicles and pedestrians!
A collision that occurs during a turning maneuver is almost always caused by driver error. Left Left turns have the potential to be dangerous because your vehicle must cross in front of an oncoming vehicle. If you are the lead vehicle in a Left Turn Only lane and the light turns red, never assume that the oncoming vehicle will stop. Sure, you may think you have the right of way but it's a fact that the vehicle making a left may be found at fault, even if the other vehicle ran the light! Be certain that the stop is being made before proceeding.
Cross traffic may have a green light but those vehicles must wait until you complete your left turn. Resist the urge to make a quick left turn in front of an oncoming car. That vehicle may be trying to accelerate off the line. And don’t forget to check the crosswalk for pedestrians and the sidewalk for bicyclists who might be directly in your path of travel. Right The vehicle code states that a right turn must finish as close as is practicable to the curb in the lane farthest right on the street being entered. When turning right, watch for another vehicle turning left into the adjacent lane. If there is a collision both vehicles could be at fault. A vehicle turning left may enter either lane as long as it is not occupied.
Simultaneous When two lanes are turning left or turning right each vehicle must stay in its own lane. Drivers making simultaneous turns need to think that the other driver may get sloppy and drift into the wrong lane. Wide Turns - Commercial Vehicles We’ve all seen the sign on the back of a big truck: CAUTION! VEHICLE MAKES WIDE RIGHT TURNS! If you try to squeeze by a truck to the right you might end up forced onto the sidewalk where you could very easily hit a pedestrian or actually get crushed by the truck! Pedestrians Always watch for pedestrians, especially in city driving. About 15,000 pedestrians are hurt or killed in California each year by motor vehicles. And most of these were in front of a crosswalk at an intersection. When driving through a residential neighborhood, reduce your speed and anticipate small children darting out between parked cars. A pedestrian ALWAYS has the rightof-way even when not crossing at a marked crosswalk! Wait to proceed until you’re absolutely certain the pedestrian is safe! Freeway Freeway driving has fewer variables than city driving. There is no cross-traffic, no pedestrians, bike riders or skateboarders. Nobody’s opening their car door in traffic or walking their dog. It’s really very easy to avoid a collision on the freeway. Don’t speed, always follow at a safe distance (3 seconds, as we said earlier) and signal all your lane changes well in advance Merging The right-of-way belongs to the vehicles already on the freeway. The vehicle merging onto the freeway must yield to them. The merging driver must accelerate to freeway speed in the merging lane with turn signal activated. Check the left mirror and safely enter the flow of traffic. Merging at too slow or too fast a speed might cause a collision. Be sure to check your mirrors frequently.
Exiting Give yourself enough time to safely leave the freeway. How many times have you seen someone in the fast lane just swoop over all the lanes to exit the freeway? You can bet he wasn’t paying attention! Signal all lane changes and make them gradually. If you swerve into an off ramp at the last second you risk cutting someone off. Try not to move into the right lane until you’ve passed the acceleration lane from the previous on ramp. Space Cushion Don’t tailgate and if another vehicle is tailgating you, change lanes. If you can’t, don’t slow down to try and make them mad. Keep in mind that a tailgater is a far too aggressive driver and believes nothing will go wrong. Just make sure you have the cushion between you and the guy in front and as soon as you can, get over and out of the tailgaters way. Speed up or slow down to avoid driving alongside another vehicle. Always try to keep a space cushion on all four sides of your vehicle. This gives you an escape route in four directions. Lane Changes One of the many causes of collisions on the freeway is reckless lane changing. Not knowing how to properly change lanes causes some drivers to judge distance and speed incorrectly. Other drivers are simply not paying attention. Every lane change must be signaled in advance; signaling five seconds before your lane change is recommended at freeway speeds. The earlier you signal the safer your lane change will be. Passing On a multilane roadway, like a freeway, it is legal to move ahead of a slower vehicle to the right of that vehicle, as long as you are not exceeding the speed limit. But it is recommended that slower moving vehicles be passed on the left. Head-on Unfortunately, a head-on collision can happen anywhere. However, be particularly aware on one-way streets. When driving on a 4-lane street with a solid double yellow center line the safer place is in the right lane unless you are preparing to turn left. There is little margin for error if an opposing vehicle drifts over that double-yellow line. If you see a car coming at you in your lane on country road, reduce speed, honk your horn and flash your lights. Then wait as long as possible before pulling off to the right. NEVER pull to the left if the car is coming at you. He may have been asleep or passed out and if he awakens at the last moment, his first reaction to finding himself on the wrong side is to jerk his car back into his own lane. If you go to the left, he may follow. Rear-end A rear-end collision is almost always the fault of the driver to the rear. But that’s small consolation if you’re the one who got hit. So don’t tailgate! If someone is tailgating you, try your best to get away from them as soon as possible. At times, using your mirrors can help in this situation. Football games often have tailgating parties in the parking lot. Fixed Object
Just about anything might be sitting in the middle of a city street... or in lanes on the freeway. Boxes, mattresses, and lawn chairs... the list is endless. If the object is small enough you could drive right over it and not see it. Don’t swerve suddenly to avoid the obstruction, especially on a crowded roadway. If you always look ahead you will have time to take evasive action. Slippery Surface Skids Don’t forget to slow down in the rain. Abrupt steering action over water could trigger hydroplaning. If your car is fishtailing then ease your foot off the gas pedal and turn in the direction of the (rear end) skid, but DO NOT step on the brake. Vehicle Failure Proper maintenance should keep your vehicle in good, working condition. Unfortunately, motor vehicles are famous for developing sudden and unexpected problems. You need to be ready and able to react to this. Brakes A brake failure can have disastrous consequences both for you and the other drivers. Specific procedures for dealing with a brake failure will be described later. Tires Check your tires frequently. Watch for balding areas and nail-heads. Specific procedures for dealing with blowouts will be described later in the course. D. Collision AVOIDANCE A basic understanding of what can cause collisions is just the first step. Now let’s discuss how you can avoid collisions in the first place. 1. DEFENSIVE DRIVING TECHNIQUES Defensive driving requires the operator of a motor vehicle to be alert enough to anticipate trouble so that one is not taken by surprise. There is a formula for safety: S-I-P-D-E: Defensive Driving Technique SCAN the road to IDENTIFY potential trouble - usually another vehicle. Then PREDICT what the other driver is going to do. DECIDE what your best course of action is. EXECUTE the maneuver. Be Alert - Don’t Assume Just because your light changes to green does not mean it is safe to go. Especially at busy intersections, so many people are trying to "make" the light that a good rule of thumb is
waiting 2 or 3 seconds before proceeding on the green. Don't be distracted. Always be ready for trouble. Look to the sides and analyze the road ahead to anticipate problems and be ready to take evasive action. Escape Techniques If swerving to avoid a vehicle on your right that has cut you off causes you to collide with a vehicle on your left you obviously failed to keep your cushion around you on all sides. Always drive with as much of a space cushion as possible. Evasive action can be steering right, steering to the left, stepping on the gas, stepping on the brake... or any combination thereof. Reaction Time If you are distracted behind the wheel your reaction time will increase. A vigilant driver whose eyes are where they should be - on the road - has a COMPLEX REACTION TIME of 3/4 of a second. This is the time it takes to get your foot on the brake after you observe a hazard up ahead. On the freeway at 65 mph you will travel roughly 75 feet in that split second. But if you’re on the cell phone the time it takes to respond could be double. And there’s a good chance you won’t be able to stop in time. So, keep your reaction time at its best by limiting your activity when you’re behind the wheel to one thing: OPERATING YOUR MOTOR VEHICLE! Three-second Rule Follow the vehicle in front of you at a three-second interval. The old rule had to do with feet and speed. That took way too much time to figure at a needed moment so they went with the 3-second rule. Think Ahead Thinking ahead is anticipation. Anticipation negates the element of surprise. And surprise is something you don’t want - at any speed! Use of the Horn Your horn is an essential tool for collision avoidance. If another driver can't see you it may help to hear you! 2. AVOIDING A COLLISION WITH THE CAR AHEAD It’s very simple: always drive at a 3 second following distance, never tailgate and pay attention to your driving and you decrease the chances of colliding with the car ahead of you. Lane Placement Are you surrounded by a cluster of vehicles? Is your lane moving too fast or too slow? Always choose a lane that gives you the most visibility and the greatest space cushion. Maneuver into some wide-open space if you have to. Choose your lane and your position within the lane with an eye toward your best chance of safety. When to Increase Following Distance to Three Seconds or More Increase following distance in reduced visibility such as nighttime or during inclement weather conditions.
When Being Tailgated If another vehicle is following you too closely just change lanes and get that vehicle in front of you! Tailgaters are dangerous! Get away from them quickly and safely! When Vision is Blocked or Visibility is Poor Defensive drivers need to see several vehicles ahead (a 1/4-mile ahead on the freeway). If you are stuck behind a larger vehicle that blocks your view you must increase your following distance to decrease the collision potential.
When Speed is Increased The higher the speed, the greater the distance needed to stop your vehicle. It takes 4 times the stopping distance at 50 mph than it does at 25 mph! When Adverse Roadway or Weather Conditions Exist It takes 2 to 3 times longer to stop your car when the road is wet. If the recommended following distance on a dry road is 3 seconds... that means you need to follow at 6 to 9 seconds on a wet road! Momentary Distractions - Pick a Safe Time To Look Away If you absolutely must take your eyes off the road be sure not to look away when turning, changing lanes, entering an intersection or driving in heavy traffic. Check the Situation Ahead In the city, drivers should have a visual lead time of at least 12 seconds or one block. On the freeway, visual lead-time should be increased to 30 seconds or roughly 1/4 mile ahead. REMEMBER: Keep your eyes moving! Don’t just look far, look near as well. Take Short Looks If you must take your eyes off the road, take intermittent glances. Don’t look away for too long. Use good judgment. If you have to do something in the car for more than a few seconds, pull over and park your car. Have A Passenger Help with Navigation
We’ve all seen drivers on the freeway with maps open on the steering wheel. This is not only illegal but extremely dangerous as well. If you have a passenger, let them have the map or look for street numbers. Look Ahead for Trouble Most trouble can be avoided by looking ahead and paying close attention. Look Over and Around the Car Ahead If you leave enough space between your vehicle and the vehicles ahead, you can see over and around the vehicle. A four or five second gap will allow you to see ahead of a large truck. If possible, position yourself in such a way as to avoid having larger vehicles in front of you. Not an easy thing with all the SUVs on the road! Check Ahead for Speed on Hilltops and Curves When approaching a steep hilltop, be careful. Take notice of any signs relating to the upcoming road, steepness, and/or curves beyond the crest. When you approach a curve, always slow before entering the curve so your vehicle doesn’t drift across the center lines. Watch for Brake Lights in Adjacent Lanes If you see brake lights up ahead, be aware that there might be a problem and prepare yourself. Start Braking Early Begin braking early to avoid having to slam on them. Use your rear view mirror to check for vehicles tailgating you. If you are being tailgated, leave more space between you and the vehicle ahead, and then safely change to an open lane. Locations to Watch for Trouble A collision can happen anywhere and at any time. But certain locations have a greater chance of it. Here are just a few: Traffic Controlled Intersections Since most collisions occur in intersections, always scan left-right-left when driving through. Beware of the car in the opposing Left Turn Only lane and anticipate that it might try to make that left in front of you. And when you are making that left turn on a busy street, don’t be impatient. Wait for the light to change and make sure the opposing traffic has stopped before proceeding through the intersection. Approaching Crosswalks It is imperative to avoid a collision with a pedestrian. Many wide boulevards have crosswalks in the middle of the block. Some are controlled by flashing red lights but others are not. Always be on the lookout for pedestrians, even jaywalkers - and be prepared to stop. If you are driving in the right lane and approaching a crosswalk, look at the car in the left lane. Is it stopped? It might
be waiting for a pedestrian that is crossing but not visible to you at that point. Don’t just drive through without slowing to check. Lanes Next to Parked Cars Occasionally a driver will park their car and open the door without looking. An oncoming car can tear it off its hinges. If you are driving in that right lane you must continually scan the parked cars ahead of you. If someone is sitting behind the wheel there is a chance they are about to open their door or pull out into traffic without looking or signaling. Be ready! When building a house, doors are very difficult to hang if not done properly. Parking Lot Entrances Any location that has a lot of activity is hazardous. Vehicles entering, exiting, turning left and right. The lot might be full, causing cars to be lined up into the street. If you look ahead, you can anticipate the blocked lane and move to the left. Interchanges Where Cars Enter and Leave If you are proceeding straight through a freeway interchange you should position yourself well in advance. Stay away from merging lanes. Unsafe lane changing is one of the major causes of collisions on the road. Slippery or Ice-covered Streets Bad weather alone does not cause collisions. It’s the driver’s inability to adjust that causes collisions. Ice is extremely treacherous - it could cause a complete loss of control if you don‘t change your driving for it. Snow tires and traction devices are needed for snowy/icy conditions. Where Children are at Play Children are unpredictable and have been known to dart out into the street in the path of a motor vehicle. Be alert and aware when driving by parks, schools, recreational areas and residential streets. 3. AVOID BEING REAR-ENDED BY ANOTHER VEHICLE In recent years, the growth in sales of sport utility vehicles (SUVs) has produced a new set of hazards. Drivers of these vehicles sit much higher and have a better view of the road ahead; but many of them still drive like they are in a sports car. Take care around them and try to give yourself some distance. Increase Following Distance from Vehicles Ahead If you are a tailgater you are just begging for trouble. Under perfect conditions follow at 3 seconds, during inclement weather the distance must be increased You need more room to brake and stop. Signal Early for Turns, Stops, and Lane Changes
When you signal early for turns, stops, or lane changes, you let the other drivers know just what you are planning. Brake Smoothly and Gradually Sudden braking is usually a panic move and will surprise the trailing driver. Remember, your brake lights are a warning to that car. They should be activated as early as possible. There is a panic button in banks. Keep Pace with Traffic When Possible If you feel you cannot keep up with traffic, change to a slower lane. This will allow tailgaters to pass. Check Mirrors for Following Distance of Other Vehicles How can you tell if the car behind you is following too closely? Well, feeling someone’s hot breath on your neck is one way. But a better way is to use your mirrors constantly. Check all mirrors regularly! Before Changing Lanes, Check Direction of Travel Even though you signal, do not assume that the space you wish to occupy is clear. Glance over your shoulder to check blind spots before making any lane change. Also, keep in mind that the car on the other side of the space might have the same intentions as you. Change lanes carefully.
After Stopping, Keep Pedal Depressed Whenever you stop at a red light, you should be far enough back to not hit the car in front if you get rear-ended. You should be able to see the back of the front car’s back tires. But it definitely pays in the long run to give yourself a little more room. Also, keep your foot firmly on the brake. This will help avoid the change from a one car to a two car impact. The car that hits you from behind could cause you to strike the vehicle in front of you. And it is likely your insurance company will deem the front collision to be your fault because you were stopped too close to that car in front. Keep Rear Lights Clean and Working Even if your vehicle is not washed on a regular basis, you should clean your rear lights when you gas your vehicle. Check dashboard-warning lights to ensure that your lamps are working.
4. HOW TO CHOOSE AN ALTERNATIVE PATH OF TRAVEL AS ESCAPE ROUTE If other vehicles surround your vehicle…. you have no escape route. Always drive with a space cushion all around your vehicle. Importance of Adequate Visual Leads Scanning the road well ahead of your vehicle will enable you to identify hazards earlier, thus making evasive action easier to accomplish. Choosing a Safe Path of Travel Ahead A common hazard involves a line of cars in the Left Turn Only lane. The lane is filled to capacity and overflowing into the center lane, preventing through traffic from proceeding. Sound familiar? If you spot this hazard early, you will probably have time to change lanes to the right and proceed through the intersection. The Surgeon General says that smoking is hazardous to your health. Possible Speed or Position Adjustments Using good visual lead-time allows you to avoid difficult situations by speeding up, slowing down, or making lane changes. Positioning the Vehicle Laterally Be ready for vehicles in adjacent lanes drifting toward you. Adjusting your position within your lane can help you avoid getting sideswiped. Select Speeds to Position Vehicle Between Clusters of Vehicles The only way to achieve an adequate space cushion around your vehicle is to analyze the pattern of traffic activity and actively adjust your speed to find breathing room. Select Lane Position Within Clusters to Allow Greatest Maneuverability
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Avoid the other guy’s blind spot - Speed up or slow down to get him out of your blind spot. It is generally safer to accelerate into a lane change than to brake into one. Avoiding Multiple Hazards - In heavy traffic, you must be ready to avoid multiple hazards, such as a vehicle turning left in front of you, while at the same time the traffic signal changes to red and a pedestrian steps into the crosswalk. Identify Hazards Early - Surprises are no fun while driving. Look over and around the car ahead of you. Don’t forget to check parked vehicles if you’re driving in the right lane. Keep your eyes moving and check your mirrors frequently. Predict Potential Hazards - Defensive drivers are constantly asking themselves two questions: 1) What is likely to happen? and 2) What is the worst thing that could happen? You can avoid a wreck by expecting the unexpected.
Adjust Speed and Position to Avoid Potential Hazards After identifying a potential hazard, you must decide what to do next. The most common maneuvers are to slow or stop. But sometimes it pays to speed up. Only do this briefly to avoid the collision.
Anticipate and Plan Possible Escape Routes Don’t wait for an emergency to look for an escape route. Defensive drivers are always looking for a safety zone - even before the need arises. If you wait, it may be too late. Compromise to Reduce the Risk of Hazards Sometimes we are confronted by multiple hazards. Defensive drivers must analyze these dangers and quickly decide on a course of action that will reduce the collision potential or eliminate it entirely. A Long Line of Cars Approaching from the Opposite Direction This is a hazardous situation, particularly on a 2 lane rural road. Be ready for a car initiating a reckless lane change and pulling out into yours. Be Prepared to Brake and Move to the Right One of the deadliest collisions is being hit head-on. Avoid hitting anything head-on by bailing out onto the shoulder or other suitable escape route. An Approaching Vehicle Drifts into Lane of Travel A head-on collision must be avoided at all costs. By driving defensively you should notice that the right shoulder might be an adequate escape route. Slow Down On recognizing the possibility of a head-on collision, immediately slow down. Pull to the Right Pull to the right even if it means striking the vehicle next to you. Sound Horn and Flash Lights Sound your horn and flash your headlights, in case the oncoming driver is asleep or passed out. On a Curve Curves are dangerous when drivers ignore the need to reduce speed. Watch for yellow diamond warning signs and slow down! Always slow when approaching and accelerate out of the curve. The author used to play little league on a baseball diamond. Slow Before Entering If you negotiate a curve at too high a rate of speed, centrifugal force could cause you to lose control of your vehicle. Stay to the Right of the Lane
On a two-lane road, keep to the right side of your lane. This will protect you if an oncoming vehicle drifts over the center lines. On a four lane road the safest lane in which to negotiate a curve is the right lane. But be careful! You don’t want to be driving so fast as to have to drift into the left lane. 5. PROTECTING YOURSELF WHEN A COLLISION CANNOT BE AVOIDED If a collision is inevitable, try to minimize injury by turning your vehicle in such a way as to distance yourself (assuming you are alone in the car) from the force of the impact. Being Hit from the Rear Picture this: you are stopped at a red light. You glance up into your rear-view mirror and see a vehicle bearing down on you at about 35 mph. There’s no escape route ahead or to the sides. You have hopefully not stopped too close to the car in front of you and you are wearing your safety belt. What should you do? Ease up on brake to allow slight forward movement to absorb energy from impact.
If you can and there is no one in front of you, take your foot off the brake just before the impact and then hit the brake again. A lot of damage is done because the irresistible force is hitting the immovable object. By letting your car roll a bit, you absorb some of the impact. Relax your body; don’t tighten up your arms. Relax! INTERESTING FACT: Many drivers who are surprised by a collision tend to be injured less severely because their bodies are relaxed at the very moment of impact. Conversely, drivers who have the time to react and brace themselves are often injured more seriously. Why does this happen? If it bends it won’t break. If you are a passenger in the front seat of a vehicle that is about to be hit NEVER put your feet up on the dash to brace yourself. Serious injuries may result. When to Apply the Brakes If you are rear-ended and the force of the collision propels you into an intersection, slamming on the brakes may prevent you from being hit by cross-traffic. Use of Head Restraints
Make sure your head restraint is properly positioned. If your head restraint is positioned too low as to allow your head to bend back, you are risking a whiplash injury. Adjust the headrest to cushion your head by not letting it fly back. Being Hit from the Side If you are alone in your car, a right side collision is obviously preferable to being hit broadside on the left, where you are sitting. Decrease the odds of this ever happening to you by remembering to scan left-right-left whenever you enter an intersection!
Preparing to Steer If you are struck by another vehicle from the side it is still possible to control your vehicle. Always steer in the opposite direction from a right-angled, or “T”-angled, impact. Bracing Against the Steering Wheel If you are struck from the side, brace your head on the headrest and remember to relax your body. Being Hit from the Front Prevention is the best remedy for a head-on collision. On a street with no center turn lane, the left lane has greater inherent danger since the only thing that is separating you from that oncoming car is two lines of yellow paint Stay in the right. Protecting Your Face When Wearing a Shoulder Strap The shoulder belt will prevent your face and upper body from striking the steering wheel during a head-on collision. Covering your face with your hands might provide you with an added measure of protection. Try not to have the sun visor down as that might do damage if it strikes your head. Protection When Not Wearing a Shoulder Strap Some drivers tuck the shoulder strap under their armpit because it is uncomfortable. This is a seat-belt violation and you might suffer serious facial injuries in even a low speed collision. Always wear a shoulder strap. Some drivers feel they don't need to wear a shoulder strap and assume that they can brace themselves adequately in a collision and don’t need a shoulder strap. Trying to hold your body back by gripping the steering wheel in a collision at just 30 mph would be like jumping out of a third-floor window and putting out your arms in front of you to break the fall!
6. EMERGENCY SITUATIONS Certain emergencies arise when you least expect them and require a constant level of vigilance from the driver. But certain driving environments are just more indigenously hazardous than others. Pay special attention around: Maintenance and Construction Areas Orange signs indicate road construction and maintenance. Orange cones are used to close off lanes and funnel traffic flow.
Watch for flagmen directing cars. REMEMBER: TRAFFIC FINES ARE DOUBLED IN WORK ZONES! Slow down and drive cautiously when the roadway is busy with construction and maintenance. Children Be cautious when driving by parks, schools or any location where children might be congregating. Kids can be unpredictable whether they’re on foot chasing balls and Frisbees, or riding bikes and skateboards. And don’t forget your own driveway! Check behind your car before you even get inside to make sure your kids aren’t playing there. Too many senseless deaths occur due to the driver not being aware of his surroundings. Animals Animals are a potential hazard in any kind of driving environment. In rural areas (and in many mountainous urban areas as well) you could easily encounter a deer or other large animal in the roadway. You have heard of the expression “like a deer caught in the headlights”, haven’t you? When driving at night on a country road with your high beams on you might see the eyes of a deer shining up ahead on the shoulder to your right. Immediately reduce to low beams. The deer might otherwise dart out in front of your car or just freeze in the middle of the road. A squirrel could dart out in front of you at any moment on any city street. Although it might be your first reflex reaction, don’t swerve to avoid the animal - you might hit a pedestrian instead. If you can, firmly apply your brakes, but don’t make any abrupt steering maneuvers unless you are ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN that your escape route is clear.
IV. ESTABLISHED SPEED LAWS Speed limits are established by law and, unfortunately, often ignored. Why? Well, some people believe the law does not apply to them or their situation. Others just aren’t paying attention and don’t realize they are speeding. And then there are those that just don’t know the laws pertaining to speed. Let’s review them now. A. PURPOSE OF BASIC SPEED LAW The Basic Speed Law says you may never drive faster than is safe for prevailing conditions. Every driver must ask the question: “Am I going too fast for these conditions?” Rain, snow, sleet, fog are hazardous conditions that you must be alert to. Is there construction, a bicycle rider, pedestrians, or debris up ahead? How heavy is traffic? Are there visibility problems? You can be cited for driving at the posted speed limit in weather conditions that are less than safe. For example, let's assume you are traveling at 35 miles per hour in a 35 miles per hour zone, but it's pouring rain. The basic speed law applies. You should drive slower in inclement weather because the condition of the road is not optimal. Just because you think it is safe doesn't mean that it actually is safe. Please remember to drive cautiously, according to the conditions. B. PURPOSE OF MINIMUM SPEED LAWS Minimum speed laws ensure a safe traffic flow. Slower vehicles should always keep to the right side of the roadway. You may not drive so slow as to impede or block the normal and reasonable movement of traffic unless it is necessary for safe operation or in compliance with law. C. SPEED LIMITS FOR DESIGNATED AREAS Faster speeds are allowed on freeways, interstate highways and in rural areas, while in densely populated and heavily traveled urban areas we are required to drive more slowly. But keep in mind, these speeds change at a moment's notice, so be careful and always pay attention to speed limit signs. 1. FREEWAY- 22349 V.C.; 22356 V.C.
The speed limit on the freeway ranges usually from 65 mph to as low as 55 mph. (On a 2 lane undivided highway with no posted speed limits, maximum speed is 55 mph.) A higher speed limit can be found on the interstate away from urban congestion, up to 70mph. 2. RESIDENTIAL ZONES Residential zones are usually areas defined by single-family dwellings. The speed limit in a residential area is 25 mph, even though it is not always posted. Some residential areas with wider streets have a posted speed limit. However, please keep in mind that the key word here is “residential.” There are families with children who live on residential streets. Just because the street may appear to be wide open, it doesn’t give anyone the right to drive too fast.
Children are small and hard to see. They are also very unpredictable. They can hide behind trees and may dash out into the street suddenly. For example, they chase balls and other toys that roll out into the road. Also, children riding bikes may suddenly veer into the street. If you are traveling at a higher rate of speed and something unexpected happens, it will take you and your vehicle much longer to react to the situation. In a residential area, you also have to look for pedestrians, who are crossing more often, and for cars pulling out into the street. 3. BUSINESS DISTRICTS A business district contains commercial enterprises. The speed limit in a business district ranges from 25 mph to a speed deemed safe by the engineer and is posted according to the city engineer’s assessment of traffic conditions. But again, keep in mind the inherent dangers of a business district! Cars make illegal U-turns from parked positions. Trucks back up seemingly out of nowhere. Pedestrians often race across the street without notice. 4. SCHOOL ZONES School zone speed limit signs indicate an order to reduce speed (to 25 or 15 mph) "WHEN CHILDREN ARE PRESENT." The letter of the law defines that as any time during school hours essentially from 7AM to 5PM! Keep in mind that "present" doesn't necessarily mean visible. The law also provides that the 25 mile-per-hour speed limit with respect to school grounds is applicable when approaching or passing within 500 feet of the school grounds. Fines for violation that occur in school zones are enhanced. 5. BLIND INTERSECTIONS If you can't see at least 100 feet down the cross street in both directions within 100 feet of an intersection you are approaching a blind intersection. The vehicle code requires drivers to reduce speed to 15 mph unless the intersection is controlled by traffic control signals, stop signs, or yield right-of-way signs. What could obstruct your view up the street? Anything from trees, signs, bushes, fences and large vehicles parked close to the intersection. 6. SENIOR CENTERS-22352 V.C. When passing a senior center or other facility primarily used by senior citizens, contiguous to a street other than a state highway and posted with a standard "SENIOR" warning sign, the speed limit is 25 mph. A local authority is not required to erect any sign pursuant to this paragraph until donations from private sources covering those costs are received and the local agency makes a determination that the proposed signing should be implemented. A local authority may, however, utilize any other funds available to it to pay for the erection of those signs. 7. RAILROAD CROSSING- 22352 V.C. When traversing a railway grade crossing, if during the last 100 feet of the approach to the crossing the driver does not have a clear and unobstructed view of the crossing and of any traffic on the railway for a distance of 400 feet in both directions along the railway , the speed limit is 15mph. This subdivision does not apply in the case of any railway grade crossing where a human flagman is on duty or a clearly visible electrical or mechanical railway crossing signal device is installed but does not then indicate the immediate approach of a railway train or car. 8. Alley
While traveling in an alley unless otherwise stated, the speed limit is 15mph. D. SPEED LIMITS FOR DESIGNATED VEHICLES Certain vehicles are required by law to observe reduced speed limits. The author has been trying to reduce his weight. These include:
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Any vehicle pulling a trailer A truck with 3 or more axles Any vehicle transporting explosives Any vehicle towing another vehicle A farm labor vehicle transporting passengers Any school bus transporting students Any trailer bus
These vehicles may never exceed 55 mph under any circumstances. The author has been trying to reduce his weight. E. SPEED AND STOPPING DISTANCE You need to pull over for an unmarked police car. Stopping your car takes a LOT longer than you think both in time and distance. And remember, when the road is wet it takes 2 to 3 times longer to get the job done! Stopping your motor vehicle requires a series of separate and discreet steps: 1. PERCEPTION TIME AND DISTANCE You perceive the need to stop and you take action to do so. This is perception time and it is affected by the driver’s vision, state of alertness and level of distraction. 2. REACTION TIME AND DISTANCE You react to the hazard, take your foot off the gas and place it on the brake. This is reaction time - and it is affected by many factors including the driver’s age and physical condition. It takes an average of 3/4 second to touch the brake after you decide you need to stop. The distance traveled during reaction time is referred to as reaction distance. 3. BRAKING DISTANCE You are slowing to a stop with your foot depressing the brake. A vehicle traveling at 50 mph requires 4 times the braking distance of a vehicle traveling half as fast at 25 mph. In other words, it increases exponentially. 4. STOPPING DISTANCE Perception distance + reaction distance + braking distance = stopping distance. F. TEMPORARY MAXIMUM SPEED LIMIT (22349 VC)
No person may drive a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than 65 miles per hour. Also, a person may not drive a vehicle upon a two-lane, undivided highway at a speed greater than 55 miles per hour unless that highway, or portion thereof, has been posted for a higher speed by the Department of Transportation or appropriate local agency upon the basis of an engineering and traffic survey. Any person who drives a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than 100 miles per hour is guilty of an infraction punishable by fine or suspension. G. BASIC SPEED LIMIT (22350 VC) No person shall drive a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable or prudent having due regard for weather, visibility, traffic and the surface and width of the highway. In no event may a person drive at a speed that endangers the safety of persons or property. H. PRIMA FACIE SPEED LIMITS (22352 VC) Have you ever driven down a street that has no speed limit sign? This doesn’t mean you can make up your own speed! The law requires every licensed driver to know the speed limit, even on a street that has no sign.
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25 mph on a highway (other than state highway) and in any business or residential district. 25 mph when passing a Senior Center adjacent to a street. 15 mph in any alley 15 mph when traversing railway grade crossings, the driver does not have a clear and unobstructed view of the railway for a distance of 400 feet in each direction. This does not apply if the railway grade crossing has a signal device. 15 mph approaching a blind intersection (uncontrolled) when no traffic controls are present. You have to pull over for an unmarked police car.
I. MINIMUM SPEED LAW (22400 VC)
No person shall drive upon a highway at such a slow speed as to impede or block the normal and reasonable movement of traffic, unless the reduced speed is necessary for safe operation. With exception to the prima facie speed limits, any vehicle proceeding upon a highway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at such time shall be driven in the right-hand lane for traffic or as close as practicable to the right-hand edge or curb, except when overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction or when preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway. If a vehicle is caught driving at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic and is not being driven in the right-hand lane (or as close to the right edge or curb), the driver could be cited for a violation. J. SPEED CONTESTS ( 23109 VC) If you think racing is fun, be sure not to do it in your vehicle! A first conviction for involvement in a speed contest will lead to a court order to perform 40 hours of community service, in addition to fines and/or jail time. If your driving privilege is suspended, which is likely, proof of financial responsibility will be required for reinstatement.
V. PROPER LANE USE
In order to understand proper lane use, first we must understand the markings of the lanes. For example, we depend on yellow and white lines to designate the way the roads should be traveled. Double lines, single lines, broken lines, and even ‘double-double’ lines all have a special purpose, and every licensed driver must know their meaning. There are arrows that indicate direction and special lanes dedicated to buses and bicycles. WHITE LINES - separate vehicles traveling in the same direction. Do your best to refrain from crossing white lines needlessly. YELLOW LINES- separate vehicles traveling in opposite directions (except freeway carpool lanes). You are only allowed to cross these lines under certain conditions. One example is while making a left turn. However, this applies only if they are single (double) yellow lines, two sets of double yellow lines are considered to be an "island" or a "wall." SOLID LINES - may not be crossed (generally speaking, but you can cross them to turn left into a driveway, side street) BROKEN LINES - may be crossed if it is safe to do so. A. DESIGNATED LANES OF TRAVEL On most roads we have a choice - anywhere from 2 to 6 lanes in which to position our vehicles. Your decision will be influenced by two factors: the type of road and your safety needs. Specialized lanes are reserved for specific vehicles and maneuvers. Any of the following vehicles must be driven in designated lanes, or if no lane has been designate, in the right-hand lane or a close as practicable to the right-hand edge or curb of the roadway.
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A A A A A A A
truck with 3 or more axles truck towing another vehicle passenger vehicle towing another vehicle school bus transporting students trailer bus vehicle transporting explosives farm labor vehicle when transporting passengers
When passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction, the driver may use the lane to the immediate left of the right-hand lane. If, however, specific lane or lanes have not been designated on a divided highway having four or more clearly marked lanes for traffic in one direction, any such vehicle may be driven in either of the two right hand lanes, unless otherwise prohibited. This does not apply to a driver who is preparing for a left or right-hand turn or who is in the process of entering or existing from a highway or to a driver who is
required necessarily to drive in a lane other than the right-hand lane to continue on his or her intended route. Section 1. DIVIDED HIGHWAYS Divided highways, such as freeways, are usually divided by 'meridian barriers.' Most other roadways use raised or painted dividers or "double-double" lines two feet or more apart to separate oncoming traffic. Solid double yellow lines on a road prohibit passing even when there is no oncoming traffic. No exceptions!
2. LANED ROADWAYS On a road with multiple lanes in each direction, broken white lines will indicate each lane of travel. Vehicles must stay safely positioned inside these lanes. Watch for signs and pavement markings that restrict vehicle usage and limit direction. 3. TWO-WAY LEFT-TURN LANE (21460.5 V.C.) A two-way left-turn is a lane near the center of the highway set aside for use by vehicles making left turns in both directions from or into the highway. They are designated by parallel double yellow lines, with the inside line dashed and the outside line solid on each side of the lane. Vehicles may not use the two-way left-turn lane except when preparing for or making a left turn from or into a highway or when preparing for or making a U-turn when such turn is permitted by law. No vehicle may be driven in a two-way left-turn lane for a distance of more than 200 feet. When a two-way left-turn lane is available, a left-turn or U-turn shall not be made from any other lane .A two-way left-turn lane may not be used for passing. The law does not prohibit a vehicle from being driven across a two-way left-turn lane. 4. THREE-LANE HIGHWAYS (21659 & 22348c V.C.) Upon a roadway which is divided into three lanes a vehicle shall not be driven in the extreme left lane at any time, nor in the center lane except when overtaking and passing another vehicle where the roadway ahead is clearly visible and the center lane is clear of traffic within a safe distance, or in preparation for a left turn, or where the center lane is at the time allocated exclusively to traffic moving in the direction the vehicle is proceeding and is signposted to give notice of such allocation. This section does not apply upon a one-way roadway. B. POSITION OF VEHICLE IN LANE OF TRAVEL Every driver must continually adjust his/her vehicle's position inside the lane, in reaction to the movement of other vehicles. Be wary of your own blinds spots, and other driver’s blind spots too. If you are constantly driving to the right rear or left rear of another vehicle, you may be in their blind spot. This means you risk that the other driver cannot see you. The other driver may think it is safe to suddenly change lanes. However, if you’re in another driver’s blind spot, you could be vulnerable to a collision. Also, keep in mind that smaller vehicles are
more difficult to see. If a small car stays in another driver’s blind spot, its driver is creating an unnecessary risk! 1. MARKED LANES Position your vehicle in the center of the lane to minimize the chances of colliding with vehicles on either side of you. Leave plenty of room between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you. Remember to keep your eyes moving constantly and scanning for hazards and other vehicles that are potential problems. 2. NARROW ROADWAYS When driving on a narrow country road or on a winding urban hillside street be sure to reduce speed and keep to the right. Be particularly careful on curves - and be sure to sound your horn if the curve is blind (where you cannot see at least 200 feet around the curve.) 3. MOUNTAIN ROADWAYS If two vehicles traveling in opposite directions cannot pass each other on a mountain road, the uphill car has the right-of-way. The car going downhill must back up the hill to allow the other vehicle to pass. This is because it is always easier to back UP a hill using the gas, rather than DOWN the hill use your brake. Make sure to control your speed when traveling down a steep grade. Use a lower gear and avoid ‘riding the brakes.’ That could cause them to overheat and perhaps fail. Passing on a winding mountain road is always ILLEGAL! Also keep in mind that even if you have the right of way, don’t demand it! If you’re thinking of safety first, it will certainly help you to avoid an accident. Remember to yield to another car - even if you have the right of way. 4. OTHER VEHICLE APPROACHING Always watch for oncoming vehicles up ahead entering your lane of travel in order to pass. Signal and move to the right granting the oncoming car at least 50% of the main portion of the roadway. 5. EXCEPTIONS TO DRIVING ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF ROADWAY Generally you must be on the right side of the roadway when driving. There are a few exceptions to this rule. They are:
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When the right half of the roadway is closed When passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction When the roadway is too narrow Driving on a one-way street When making a left turn
C. REQUIRED LANE USE AND USE OF TURNOUTS In order to improve the flow of traffic on rural or mountainous roadways where slower moving vehicles like motor homes and recreational vehicles are likely to be encountered, traffic engineers have recommended special laws. 1. SLOW-MOVING VEHICLES
Unless preparing to turn left, a slow-moving vehicle must drive in the right lane. If 5 or more vehicles are behind a slower moving vehicle, that vehicle is required by law to pull off the road to the right (as soon as is practicable and safe.) If the road has a turnout, slower-moving vehicles must pull off to allow vehicles behind to proceed ahead. 2. SPECIAL VEHICLES Special vehicles such as buses or vehicles with two or more passengers may use the diamond lane if available. However, some diamond lanes require three or more passengers. Motorcycles may travel in the diamond lane, and low emission and hybrid vehicles (45 mpg or higher) displaying a special decal from the DMV may use the lane as well without the required number of passengers. If you do not qualify, don't drive in these special lanes. The violation is costly, (minimum of $271 in Ca.) but more to the point, driving in them interrupts the flow of traffic.
3. Designated Lanes for Certain Vehicles Whenever the Department of Transportation or local authorities with respect to highways under their respective jurisdictions determines upon the basis of an engineering and traffic investigation that the designation of a specific lane or lanes for the travel of vehicles required to travel at reduced speeds would facilitate the safe and orderly movement of traffic, the department or local authority may designate a specific lane or lanes for the travel of vehicles which are subject to the provisions of Section 22406 and shall erect signs at reasonable intervals giving notice thereof. V.C. Section 21655 Any trailer bus, except as provided in Section 21655.5, and any vehicle subject to the provisions of Section 22406 shall be driven in the lane or lanes designated pursuant to subdivision (a) whenever signs have been erected giving notice of that designation. Except as otherwise provided in this subdivision, when a specific lane or lanes have not been so designated, any of those vehicles shall be driven in the right-hand lane for traffic or as close as practicable to the right edge or curb. If, however, a specific lane or lanes have not been designated on a divided highway having four or more clearly marked lanes for traffic in one direction, any of those vehicles may also be driven in the lane to the immediate left of that right-hand lane, unless otherwise prohibited under this code. When overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction, the driver shall use either the designated lane, the lane to the immediate left of the right-hand lane, or the right-hand lane for traffic as permitted under this code.
This subdivision does not apply to a driver who is preparing for a left- or right-hand turn or who is entering into or exiting from a highway or to a driver who must necessarily drive in a lane other than the right-hand lane to continue on his or her intended route. The author thinks his girlfriend is special.
VI. BACKING UP SAFELY
Backing up is a very simple move. Cautious drivers usually back up at a slow rate of speed. Backing up is EXTREMELY dangerous when not done correctly! Prior to backing up, there is a routine that every driver should follow when getting into their vehicle. A. CHECK BEHIND THE VEHICLE BEFORE GETTING IN There is a contiguous blind spot that surrounds every vehicle. Drivers must make visual confirmation that their blind zone is free of obstacles. 1. CHILDREN Children and pets are difficult to see from the driver’s seat, especially small children, who can dart into the street behind your vehicle. Before entering your vehicle, always check for children. And when you are driving, look under parked cars ahead for children’s feet. 2. SMALL OBJECTS If you take a walk around your vehicle before getting inside you will avoid damaging your children’s toys not to mention your own tires on sharp pieces of debris. Your child will be upset if you back over his/her skateboard, or him/her. B. VISIBILITY AND BODY POSTURE The position of your body in the driver’s seat will affect your ability to see behind you. Use proper posture here and make sure you can see.
1. BODY POSITION WHILE STEERING Backing up safely requires a shift in body position. Place your LEFT hand at the top of the steering wheel. Turn your head and upper body to the RIGHT and look out the rear window. NEVER rely solely on your mirrors to back up. Also make sure your windows are clean and clear of hanging obstacles. 2. HEAD POSITION WHILE STEERING Looking out the rear window gives you maximum visibility. Your head should be turned forward intermittently when turning the vehicle while backing. You can prevent the front of your vehicle from hitting any obstructions. C. SPEED CONTROL Backing should be executed in a slow, deliberate manner, since visibility is limited to the rear of the vehicle. Always be aware of the slightest sound or motion. 1. RELEASE OF BRAKE PEDAL On vehicles with automatic transmissions, releasing pressure on the brake will provide sufficient movement. On vehicles with manual transmissions, the clutch will have to be engaged. 2. BACKING SPEED A vehicle should move in reverse no faster than a person can walk. If you just decide to punch your accelerator, the chances of you losing control increase dramatically. To make a movie you need a lot of backing. D. STEERING Backing up in a straight line is dangerous enough. Turning a vehicle while backing up complicates matters enormously because you have a much better chance of losing control of the vehicle. 1. SHARP TURNS As you turn in reverse the front of your vehicle could swing out and strike an obstruction. Turn your head forward and check the front of your vehicle. Stop the vehicle completely if you need to. 2. BACKING AROUND A CORNER Backing up around a corner is an extremely dangerous maneuver. If you plan ahead, you should never have to back up around a corner. For example, you can always go around the block, if necessary. However, there are some drivers who think that saving 20 seconds is worth the risk of endangering themselves and others. If for some reason you find yourself in a position that requires you to attempt this dangerous maneuver, use extreme caution when backing around a corner. This is especially true if you think other drivers could be approaching. These drivers are not expecting to see another vehicle approaching them. Once again, it is strongly suggested that you avoid this move whenever possible. E. WHEN MOVEMENT IS CONSTRICTED
You’re in a crowded parking lot after a sporting event. Thousands of drivers are getting into their cars and backing out of parking spaces. Extra caution is required Keep in mind also that in situations like this, you are bound to be near an intoxicated driver so extra caution is called for. Allow others to leave before you. It is a lot easier to leave a crowded parking area after it isn’t so crowded. If a driver is intoxicated, he or she is more apt to be in front of you then, where you can keep an eye on them. 1. USE MIRRORS AND PASSENGERS TO HELP NAVIGATE Make sure you use your mirrors effectively. Never use mirrors only to see your way. Always make an effort to physically turn and look out the windows. If you have passengers in the car with you, ask for help! 2. WHENEVER POSSIBLE AVOID BACKING All dangerous maneuvers should be avoided, if possible. If you enter an empty parking lot it’s a good idea to pull your vehicle forward into a space that adjoins end-to-end and park facing out. When it’s time to leave, you won’t have to back up. 3. FIND PARKING SPACES THAT DO NOT REQUIRE BACKING If you plan ahead and search carefully, you can usually find a parking space that requires little or no backing. For instance, utility companies require that their drivers back into parking spaces so that, when they leave the space, they can pull out in a forward direction.
VII. INTERACTING AT INTERSECTIONS
An intersection is any location where two roadways cross or join. Most collisions in city driving occur while entering, inside or exiting an intersection
A. IDENTIFYING AN INTERSECTION Learn to interpret traffic signals, traffic signs and street signs that inform you how to handle the traffic at intersections. 1. CONTROLLED Stop signs, traffic signals and YIELD signs are present to “control” the traffic flow.
2. UNCONTROLLED When no signs or signals are present is the intersection really uncontrolled? No, the drivers who must exercise extreme caution to proceed through the intersection safely control it.
Uncontrolled intersections are usually located in residential areas. When approaching an uncontrolled intersection, reduce speed to 15 mph, scan left-right-left and proceed if safe. When two vehicles arrive at the same time, the vehicle on the left must yield to the vehicle on the right. If your vehicle is on the right be certain the other driver has surrendered the rightof-way before you proceed. Make eye contact and don’t assume. And never insist on the right of way, even if it’s yours! B. SKILLS REQUIRED FOR CROSSING AND TURNING Special skills are needed for crossing and turning at intersections. Whenever possible, cross or turn busy streets at signal-controlled intersections rather than at intersections controlled only by a stop sign. 1. JUDGING TIME TO MAKE A MANEUVER A right turn will take longer than proceeding straight through the intersection. Always slow down when making this turn four wheels are always better than two. Left turns can take considerably longer, especially if the left turn must yield to oncoming vehicles. 2. JUDGING SPEED AND DISTANCE OF OTHER VEHICLES How fast is that other vehicle moving? How far is it away from you? Are you likely to collide with that vehicle? If a car is coming straight, the duration of time for you to wait is 4 seconds. When making a right it’s 6 seconds and for a left it’s 7 seconds. 3. CHOOSING A TRAFFIC GAP OR SPACE TO ENTER OR CROSS TRAFFIC When waiting at a stop sign, scan left and right but never proceed until you confirm a large enough opening in the traffic closest to you on the left. C. LEFT TURNS - PROTECTED AND UNPROTECTED A protected left turn is indicated by a green arrow with the opposing traffic having a red light. A traffic officer directing traffic and a delayed green light will also provide a protected left turn. An unprotected left turn requires the driver to wait for oncoming vehicles to pass before making the left.
1. SCAN FOR HAZARDS (OTHER VEHICLES, PEDESTRIANS, BICYCLES) Never assume that just because you have a green light you are invulnerable to another driver running the red. As you make your turn, make sure the crosswalks are clear and watch for bicyclists on the sidewalk preparing to enter the crosswalk from your right.
2. VEHICLE POSITION - BEFORE AND AFTER TURN A left turn must be initiated from the (legal) lane farthest to the left. Most of the time it will be a LEFT TURN ONLY lane.
Creep up into the intersection (not too far) and wait for oncoming traffic to clear. Judge the speed of oncoming vehicles - especially motorcycles. After confirming the adjacent crosswalk is clear of pedestrians, make the turn. While waiting to turn, keep your wheels pointed straight ahead. This prevents you from entering oncoming traffic lanes if you get hit from behind. When turning on the change of the light - DON’T ASSUME the oncoming car will stop, because there is a good chance he won’t. Make sure he is stopping before you commit to the turn! When turning onto a multi-lane street, the left turn vehicle can finish in any lane that is open if it’s safe. 3. WHEN VIEW IS BLOCKED Trucks, SUVs and commercial vehicles on the nation’s roadways are making blocked views a common hazard. Get a clear view of the intersection before turning left. On a clear day you can see forever. D. RIGHT TURNS - PROTECTED AND UNPROTECTED A right turn executed improperly could cause major problems. A right turn arrow does not guarantee that a pedestrian or cyclist won’t suddenly appear in your path. It is never safe to only look for vehicles. 1. SCAN FOR HAZARDS (OTHER VEHICLES, PEDESTRIANS, BICYCLES) Since the right turn is executed closest to the curb, pedestrians and bicyclists are the main thing to look out for. But, when turning right always watch for an opposing left turn vehicle finishing in your target lane. 2. CHECK FOR CONTROLLED LANES AND SIGNALS
Be on the lookout when driving through busy commercial intersections. Watch for all signs and signals, particularly right turn arrows, simultaneous turn lanes and signs that prohibit right turn on red. 3. VEHICLE POSITION - BEFORE AND AFTER TURN A vehicle must have established position in the right lane and be signaling at least 100 feet before the intersection. Right turn must finish in the right lane!
4. WHEN VIEW IS BLOCKED It is unsafe to turn if you can‘t see. So slow down and/or stop, scan the road and proceed with caution. 5. USE OF BIKE LANE FOR TURNS The only instances when driving in a bicycle lane are permitted are: You may not drive in a bicycle lane unless: (1) To park where parking is permitted. (2) To enter or leave the roadway. (3) To prepare for a turn within a distance of 200 feet from the intersection. V.C. Section 21209
E. U - TURNS The U-Turn is extremely dangerous. Consider a safer option, like turning around inside a parking lot or going around the block. 1. SCAN FOR HAZARDS (OTHER VEHICLES, PEDESTRIANS, BICYCLES) Be certain there are no other vehicles within 200 feet and scan for pedestrians and bicyclists. Watch to your left for a vehicle turning right on a red. He must yield for you but that driver
might not know the law. It is always helpful to make eye contact with them and let him know you are making that U-turn. 2. CHECK FOR PROHIBITIVE SIGNS If the controlled intersection has no sign pertaining to U-Turns then the maneuver is legal.
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In the middle of a business/ commercial street (unless that street has a break in a raised or painted median and no prohibitive sign) In front of a fire station On a one-way street Anywhere a NO U-TURN is posted Upon a highway anytime a person does not have an unobstructed view of traffic in both directions for a distance of 200 feet.
A permitted u-turn may be across double yellow lines when safe. A u-turn is also permitted from a parked position, except in an intersection, but is not recommended and should be avoided!! 3. VEHICLE POSITION - BEFORE AND AFTER TURN A U-Turn must start from the (legal) lane farthest to the left. It may be completed into any opposite lane - if safe, of course.
F. PROCEEDING STRAIGHT Green means go only when it’s SAFE to proceed. Scan left-right-left when proceeding through any intersection, especially when the light initially changes to green. Always anticipate a vehicle running the red light. Don’t be quick off the line. It doesn’t get you anywhere faster and that late red vehicle is coming through fast! 1. SCAN FOR HAZARDS (OTHER VEHICLES, PEDESTRIANS, BICYCLES) Make sure other vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists have acknowledged your right-of-way. Watch the lead vehicle in the opposing LEFT TURN ONLY lane. It could make a sudden turn directly in front of your vehicle.
2. COVERING THE BRAKE PEDAL When driving through a busy intersection, take your foot off the gas and place your foot on (but don’t depress) the brake pedal. The reaction time you save in an emergency stop situation could help you avoid a collision. G. SIGNALING FOR TURNS AND STOPS Every turn and lane change must be preceded by a blinking turn signal. Brake lights will indicate to the other drivers that you’re stopping. 1. PURPOSE OF SIGNALING To drive safely we must communicate with one another. Signaling our intentions is a vital element in that communication. 2. DISTANCE REQUIRED All turns and lane changes must be signaled at least 100 ft prior to initiating the maneuver. 3. DURATION OF SIGNAL Turn signals will turn off automatically after the turn is completed. Sometimes the signal fails to cancel and must be turned off manually. After you change lanes, just make sure your turn signal is off. I’m sure most of us have been behind that car with the left turn signal flashing in the fast lane of the highway! The lighting of the torch signals the start of the Olympics.
VIII. PASSING Passing is the most dangerous maneuver in all of driving. Many factors need to come together properly in order for a pass to be executed safely. A. PASSING AND BEING PASSED Both drivers - the one passing and the one being passed - have to work together for this move to be successfully completed too many drivers feel challenged or offended when they are being passed. That’s a dangerous attitude, and not an intelligent one. 1. DEMANDS OF PROPER PASSING Good Judgment Before you pass, ask yourself two questions: “Is it legal to pass?” “Is it safe to pass?” Rapid Decision-making Passing safely requires quick thinking and rapid reflexes. Do not be impatient. Judgment suffers when a driver is frustrated. When in doubt, stay in your lane and try again later when it looks safe B. WHEN PASSING IS AUTHORIZED Lane markings and signs indicate when passing is allowed. If the vehicle you wish to pass is at or near the speed limit YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO PASS! That would require you to exceed the speed limit, which is against the law. 1. DESIGNATED LANE USE AND MARKINGS On a highway with a double yellow line at the center, you may only pass when the line on your side is broken. NEVER pass when the line on your side is solid. NEVER cross a “doubledouble” – two (2) pairs of solid yellow lines. Freeway On the freeway, it is legal to pass a slower moving vehicle on the right - as long as the pass is executed safely and you do not exceed the speed limit. Two-lane Roadways
You are prohibited from passing within 100 feet of, or when traversing an intersection. It is also prohibited to pass another vehicle going uphill over double yellow lines. Do not pass on curves, under bridges, or at railroad crossings.
C. WHEN PASSING IS PROHIBITED 1. DESIGNATED LANE USE AND MARKINGS
The law prohibits passing over double, solid, yellow lines. Watch for NO PASSING signs posted on rural roads prior to a hill or an intersection.
Freeways You may never pass another vehicle on the freeway by exceeding the speed limit. Two-lane Roadways You are prohibited from passing within 100 feet of an intersection. It is also prohibited to pass another vehicle going uphill over double yellow lines. Do not pass on curves, under bridges, or at railroad crossings. D. SPECIAL SITUATIONS The vehicle code has identified five circumstances in which passing is very dangerous and should be avoided at all costs on two lane roads: 1. WITHOUT SUFFICIENT CLEARANCE
You may never enter the left lane to pass unless that lane is completely visible in a straight away view and free of oncoming traffic. 2. ON A HILL When driving up a hill behind a vehicle moving at less than 20 mph, do not pass unless you are moving at least 10 mph faster. 3. INTERSECTIONS OR RAILROAD CROSSINGS It is prohibited to drive to the left side of the roadway when approaching within 100 feet of or when traversing any railroad grade crossing. V.C. Section 21752 (d). 4. SCHOOL BUS A school bus displaying flashing red lights may never be passed until the lights are turned off. Even traffic on the other side of the street (going in the opposite direction) must stop.
You don't have to stop if you are on a divided road and a raised or painted median or 'doubledouble' (yellow lines) separate you from the bus or if you are on a multi-lane highway and the bus is on the other roadway that is headed in the opposite direction. 5. BRIDGES OR ABUTMENTS Never attempt to pass when your vehicle is within 100 feet of a tunnel or a bridge. "Bridges of Madison County" was a famous book made into a movie. E. DANGEROUS PASSING SITUATIONS
Many serious collisions have occurred because drivers attempted a pass in the following situations: 1. LONG LINE OF CARS AHEAD If the vehicle you wish to pass is at the end of a long line of cars there may not be sufficient space to re-enter your lane in front of the car you’re passing. 2. INTENTION TO STOP OR TURN Passing in an intersection is dangerous because you can’t be sure what the drivers in front of you intend to do. Other vehicles might turn and cross your path or stop abruptly ahead of you. There is no good reason to make an unsafe passing move. 3. ONCOMING CAR TOO CLOSE Before pulling out to pass, be certain that the oncoming car is far enough away to allow you to complete the pass safely. Never try to “chance” it. 4. CAR AHEAD IS AT OR NEAR THE SPEED LIMIT It is illegal if the car you wish to pass is at or near the speed limit and you exceed the speed limit to pass.
5. SIGHT DISTANCE AHEAD IS LIMITED
Never try to pass another vehicle if there is not a clear, straight road ahead. A hill crest hides oncoming traffic. A fast moving vehicle coming around a curve could be difficult to see.
6. MANEUVER CAN’T BE COMPLETED BEFORE REACHING NO PASSING ZONE If a driver pulls into the left lane to pass, then notices a NO PASSING ZONE up ahead, the safest move would be to reduce speed and fall back behind the vehicle being passed. If you continue and don’t complete the maneuver before the NO PASSING ZONE, you can be ticketed. F. PASSING POTENTIAL You must be able to judge not only the best time to pass, but also when you should not pass. 1. IDENTIFY PASSING SITUATIONS Is it legal to pass? Is the vehicle I wish to pass well under the speed limit? Can I see the road ahead? Is that oncoming vehicle a sufficient distance away? Is there enough room in front of the vehicle I wish to pass for me to safely re-enter the lane? You need to make sure you can answer YES to these questions to be in an excellent passing situation. Passing Maneuver Times
Generally, your vehicle must be moving 10 mph faster than the vehicle you are passing. Remember, a common optical illusion is that - on a straight road - a vehicle heading towards you from 1/2 mile or more in the distance seems to be stopped. Identify a Safe Distance Ahead Estimate the distance you will need to complete the pass. An oncoming car should be at least TWICE that distance from you. Identify an End-of-pass Gap to Pull Back Into Lane Never pass more than one vehicle. Make sure you can see both headlights of the vehicle you passed in your rear view mirror before signaling and re-entering the lane. Establish a Safe Response to Hazards Some roads are very narrow with little or no shoulder area to maneuver. Be aware that turning too sharply back into your own lane of traffic can cause skidding on a wet or icy road. The author learned to drive in the snow in Connecticut. Checking for Road Traction Good acceleration is crucial. If the road has poor traction (due to rain, ice, gravel, etc) it will be difficult to pass quickly and safely. G. STEPS FOR SUCCESSFUL PASSING REMEMBER - the first step is to ask yourself this question: “Is it legal to pass here?” The answer must be “Yes!” 1. SCAN FOR HAZARDS Confirm the road is clear of obstructions and that there are no intersections within range. Are there any off-road vehicles in the vicinity? Watch for slow moving farm vehicles. Oncoming Vehicles Be certain that an oncoming vehicle is a safe distance away. Estimate the total distance you need for the pass. Remember, that oncoming vehicle needs to be TWICE that distance away. Vehicles Approaching from the Rear As you prepare to pass, watch for indications that the vehicle approaching you from the rear may be intending to pass you. If so, make it easier for them by slowing down a little and move to the right if you can. Merging Vehicles Confirm there are no vehicles up ahead executing a pass in the opposing direction. 2. CHECK FOR BLIND SPOTS Check your mirrors and glance over both shoulders to make sure your vehicle is clear
3. SIGNAL INTENT Your pass must be preceded by a flashing left turn signal. 4. WARN THE DRIVER AHEAD Tap the horn and/or flash your headlights. This will communicate your intention to pass to the driver in front of you. 5. OBTAIN A SPEED ADVANTAGE For optimum passing you must achieve an advantage of 10 mph over the vehicle ahead. DON’T FORGET – If you pass a vehicle that is driving at the speed limit, you can be cited for speeding. 6. RE-CHECK CONDITIONS AHEAD Check the road ahead again for vehicles leaving driveways or turning onto your road from an intersection. 7. CREATE RETURN SPACE Do not re-enter the lane too soon. Make sure you have pulled far enough ahead of the vehicle you’re passing. Wait until you can see its headlights in your rear view mirror. 8. SIGNAL RETURN Activate your right turn indicator before returning to the right lane. 9. CHECK FOR BLIND SPOTS Quickly glance over your right shoulder as you complete the lane change.
10. CREATE SPACE FOR VEHICLE PASSED In the event you changed lanes too early and notice the trailing vehicle is following at an unsafe distance - accelerate to create a larger gap. The gap sells lots of different styles of clothing. H. WHEN BEING PASSED Always cooperate with the driver attempting to pass your vehicle.
1. SAFETY WHEN BEING PASSED If you are driving under the speed limit you must regularly scan behind you so you will not be surprised by another vehicle attempting to pass. Yielding Required NEVER speed up while the other car is passing you. Slowing slightly will allow the vehicle to complete its pass more quickly and safely. Moving slightly to the right (within your lane) will help as well. Maintaining Speed Maintain a safe speed. Be prepared to brake if a road hazard suddenly appears that could force the passer over to the right sooner than you both anticipated.
IX. DEMANDS OF CITY DRIVING A city street is like an obstacle course. Vehicles of every size and shape are moving in close proximity, speeding up, slowing down, stopping, and parking. Add to that the problems created by pedestrians, bicycles, animals and obstacles in the road and you have a daunting challenge. Looking away for even a second to change radio stations or dial your phone could mean disaster. A. REDUCING SPEED As you increase your speed over the speed limit you increase your chances of being in a collision. Slowing down will give you more time to SCAN the road to IDENTIFY hazards ahead, PREDICT what might happen, DECIDE what you are going to do and then EXECUTE your maneuver. Those couple of seconds you save by speeding can be the same ones that might save your life if you were going slower and able to react better. 1. MORE TIME TO SEE DETAILS AND IDENTIFY THEIR MEANING You need time to see every detail around you on the street and identify what it means. When you go faster, you miss the smaller things. Slowing down will bring everything into clearer focus. The slower you drive, the wider your peripheral vision. 2. MORE TIME TO ANALYZE INFORMATION AND PREDICT WHAT’S NEXT Once hazards are identified you need time to plan for the probable outcome as well as allow for the possibility of a worst-case scenario. 3. MORE REACTION TIME TO DECIDE WHAT TO DO If you are driving too fast you will be forced to rush your decision. You need time to avoid a mistake. 4. MORE TIME TO EXECUTE DECISIONS OR AVOID TROUBLE If you are forced to slam on your brakes in an emergency stop situation slowing down will shorten your stopping distance. B. LOOKING AHEAD OF TRAFFIC You should scan up to 15 seconds ahead of your vehicle. At roughly 30 mph - that translates to about one city block. And be sure to scan sidewalk to sidewalk. 1. LOOK AHEAD FOR TRAFFIC HAZARDS Don’t just stare at the vehicle in front. You need to see up to 10 cars ahead as well. Keep your eyes moving and check mirrors frequently. You will be able to spot hazards earlier, and then have more time to react and take evasive action. This is called “getting the big picture“.
2. LEAVE ENOUGH DISTANCE TO MANEUVER Where is your “out?” Get a space cushion around your car. You can’t take evasive action if you have no place to go. 3. SIGNAL LIGHTS Busy intersections are controlled by automated traffic signals. Running red lights is a common violation that often has deadly consequences. It is the responsibility of every licensed driver to not only watch for signal lights but to obey them. Look Ahead for Signal Changes When you scan a block ahead you will be able to see the signal light. But will you be able to make the light? The earlier you can answer that question, the better. Never try to beat the light. Anticipate Signal Changes Experience teaches us to anticipate the light changes and that allows us to make good decisions on whether to proceed or prepare to stop. Check for Stale Green Lights The CROSSWALK SIGN will often indicate when the green light is about to turn to yellow (stale green light.) This is helpful when we are half a block away, facing a green light and we ask ourselves- will we make the light or not? When a driver is unsure - even for a few seconds safety can be lost. When the DON’T WALK sign stops flashing the YELLOW LIGHT will usually appear in 3-5 seconds, depending on the speed limit. Be prepared to stop. C. COVERING THE BRAKE, NOT RIDING IT 1. SLOW FOR REDUCED STOPPING DISTANCE Covering the brake will save you reaction time and reduce stopping distance. When you do this, your foot is off the gas and poised over the brake pedal, but not depressing it. 2. WHEN TO COVER THE BRAKE PEDAL Covering the brake is a great defensive driving technique. Some examples where you should cover the brake are: Next to Parked Cars When driving in the right lane next to a line of parked cars - especially when the taillights indicate the car is being started. Brake Lights of Other Cars Cover the brake and prepare to stop whenever you see brake lights illuminating up ahead. Approaching Signal Lights
Always cover the brake as you approach an intersection. You will be prepared to stop if somebody runs a red light. You should always cover your head when it's raining. D. CITY PASSING 1. PASSING OVER CENTER LINE OF TRAVEL NEVER drive to the left of a solid double yellow line. On a city street you may only pass over the center line of travel when that line is broken. The street will likely be a residential street and you will probably be passing a car that is stopped to let off passengers.
2. PASSING IN OR NEAR AN INTERSECTION The vehicle code says you may make a “safe change of direction” while inside an intersection. This is not recommended. Also, it is illegal to change lanes immediately before entering and immediately after exiting an intersection. E. CHOOSING OF LANE 1. CHOOSE A LANE APPROPRIATE TO USE Slower traffic and cars preparing to turn right should be in the right lane. Cars preparing to turn left should be in the left lane. 2. CHOOSE LESS CONGESTED LANE UNLESS PLANNING TO TURN When you scan ahead it’s easy to judge which lane is moving better. If the street has 3 lanes in one direction, the center lane will usually have the least congestion. Changing lanes all the time to get someplace faster is a dangerous way to drive. Pick a lane and stay in it. There are many over the counter medications for congestion due to colds. F. VEHICLE POSITION Drivers must position vehicles inside the lane for optimum safety and maneuverability. 1. KEEP UP WITH TRAFFIC SPEED AND WITHIN LIMITS Driving too slowly can be frustrating to other drivers. Keep to the right or pull over and stop to allow traffic behind you to proceed 2. AVOID OTHER DRIVER’S BLIND SPOTS Every vehicle has blind spots off both rear corners. Take care not to drive for more than a few seconds where the other guy can’t see you.
3. AVOID OTHER DRIVER IN YOUR BLIND SPOT Speed up or slow down slightly and adjust your spacing to keep other drivers out of your blind spot and in your sight. Keep in mind that many drivers aren’t even aware of blind spots so don’t get angry if one continues to drive in yours. Just take the proper precautions. 4. AVOID DRIVING SIDE-BY-SIDE The spaces immediately to your right and left should be unoccupied. This, of course is almost impossible on today’s streets. Constantly adjust position to maximize the space cushion around your vehicles as best you can. 5. AVOID DRIVING IN BUNCHES If you drive in a bunch, your maneuvering ability is severely limited. The best position for your vehicle is away from the pack. Sometimes you can speed up to get out of the pack but it’s best if you slow down instead. G. CHOOSING A SAFE ROUTE Most drivers will chose the fastest and most direct route to their destination. Under certain circumstances, however, the shortest distance might not be the safest. 1. TIME OF DAY AND TRAFFIC DENSITY Avoid peak traffic times if possible. Become familiar with alternate routes. On occasion, surface streets might move faster than the freeway. Especially during certain times of the day. 2. THROUGH STREETS VS. SIDE STREETS Through streets are multi-lane boulevards designed for heavier traffic. Side streets are usually residential, with only one lane in each direction. Drivers circumventing busier through streets to avoid traffic can fall victim to speeding, rolling through stop signs and ignoring potential hazards like bike riders and pedestrians. Through streets will generally provide a safer and faster route. One of the author's favorite cartoons in Mad Magazine was "Spy vs. Spy". 3. ONE-WAY STREETS VS. TWO-WAY STREETS
Drivers can identify one-way streets by looking for one-way street signs. Traffic parked on both sides of the street in the same direction is also a helpful clue.
One-way streets are less dangerous than two-way streets, since there is no oncoming traffic turning or crossing into your path of travel. And if you find yourself going the wrong way on a one-way street, immediately pull over and correct this. If an officer tells you it’s a one-way street, it’s not wise to answer back “but officer, I was only going one way!” H. SPECIAL PROBLEMS IN CITY TRAFFIC Certain potential hazards are more associated with city driving. 1. PARKED CARS HIDING CROSS TRAFFIC When approaching an intersection and scanning left, have you ever had your view of approaching cars obstructed by a vehicle parked close to the corner? That vehicle might also block your view of a pedestrian or bicyclist. Reduce your speed, cover the brake and proceed with caution. 2. DETOUR IN LANE OF TRAVEL A delivery truck or double-parked car might be blocking your lane. By looking ahead, you can spot this with enough time to change lanes. You can then avoid the frustration of being stuck behind a stopped vehicle in the right lane. 3. TWO-WAY LEFT TURN CENTER LANE USE Most boulevards have a shared center turn lane that allows traffic from both directions to initiate a turn off the street into a driveway or to complete a turn out of a driveway back onto the street. It is illegal to drive down the center turn lane. But it is legal to drive across a center turn lane. Just be careful because the oncoming vehicle may have the same idea and want to turn at the same time!
4. TURNING AT CORNERS Before turning left or right, make sure you have the right-of-way and that all other vehicles are giving you the right-of-way. Always be on the lookout for pedestrians or bicyclists. 5. DRIVING ON ONE-WAY STREETS Identifying Driving the wrong-way down a one-way street is dangerous. You can identify a one-way street with the following indicators:
• • • • •
Parked cars on both sides of the street are facing the same direction. Traffic signs on both sides of the street facing the same direction A sign reading ONE-WAY posted at the intersection. No yellow center lines, broken white lines only. A sign reading DO NOT ENTER or NO TURNS
Entering When turning onto a one-way street, right or left, you may finish the turn in any lane that is open, if safe to do so. Breaking and entering is against the law. Speed Traffic on one-way streets tends to move more efficiently so there is a greater temptation to drive faster. Keep up with the flow of traffic but don’t speed. Lane Choice Use the center lane unless preparing to turn right or left. Exiting When making a right turn from a one-way street onto a two-way street you must finish in the right lane. A right turn onto another one-way street may be finished in any open lane. A left turn off a one-way street may be finished in any open lane -if safe.
This is also the only place where it is legal to turn left against a red light from a one-way street onto another one-way street. Unless, of course the maneuver is prohibited by a sign. Dealing with Wrong-way Drivers Always be prepared for a wrong-way driver on a one-way street. Reduce your speed, honk your horn and move to the right. Keep in mind that many drivers get confused with one-way streets and the more you are aware, the safer you will be. 6. WHEN AND WHERE TO EXPECT PEDESTRIANS AND BICYCLISTS Be especially cautious when approaching crosswalks. Always make sure that the crosswalk is clear of pedestrians and bike riders before you proceed through a stop sign or make a right turn against a red light. Remember, pedestrians and bicyclists may be harder to see, so be alert!
X. DEMANDS OF FREEWAY DRIVING The higher speeds on the freeway create a completely different set of demands on the driver. But drivers can stay safe if they remember these simple axioms: don’t speed, don’t follow too closely and don’t cut anybody off. A. PLANNING A ROUTE IN ADVANCE Collisions often occur when drivers are lost, disoriented or unfamiliar with their surroundings. Planning a route in advance helps to alleviate this problem. Here are some things to do. 1. BE FAMILIAR WITH ALTERNATE EXITS If you are aware of alternate exits you will be able to respond when faced with an unexpected ramp closure, detour or collision on the freeway. If you have internet capability, there are many sites that offer maps and specific directions right down to the distance of each turn. They also show you the alternate routes. Acupuncture is considered an alternate treatment for many ailments. 2. GUIDE SIGNS - INDICATING DISTANCE AND ROUTE DIRECTION How many times have you been driving down the freeway in the far left lane, singing along to the radio and all of a sudden you spot your exit coming up? You either have to swing over several lanes of traffic to make it (not only is this NOT suggested, it's illegal!) or you have to exit at the next off ramp and find your way back. All you have to do is look for guide signs that indicate the distance to your destination. Guide signs are large rectangular green signs with white lettering. Knowing how close your exit is will help you time your lane changes as you prepare to leave the freeway. 3. PLAN TRAVEL TIME TO AVOID CONGESTION AND UNFAMILIAR AREAS Allow extra travel time to allow for mistakes you might make when driving to an unfamiliar location. If you are finding yourself late because you didn’t know the area, you may find yourself more stressed. This leads to more mistakes behind the wheel and more temptation to break the law and save time. Also, try to avoid rush hour. Freeway traffic tends to be lighter during midday hours. Unfortunately, slow-downs can happen anywhere and at anytime on the freeway system. B. ENTERING THE FREEWAY
Freeways have interchanges that provide on-ramps to allow drivers to enter the freeway. You might encounter an on-ramp directly adjacent to an off-ramp. Offramps are equipped with DO NOT ENTER and WRONG WAY warning signs to warn drivers. Look for these signs. 1. ACCELERATION LANES Accelerating up to the necessary speed is the first challenge in freeway driving. Most freeway on-ramps are divided into three parts: the entrance ramp, the acceleration lane and the
merge area. The acceleration lane permits vehicles to reach near-freeway speeds before merging. Be Familiar with Entrance Warning Signs Pay attention to signs posted at freeway entrance ramps. They will indicate speed limits, cues to yield or merge, curve in the road and diamond lane designations. (Don’t forget, you need 2 or more people for the diamond lanes. In some cases, 3 or more. These signs tell you how many. Also, motorcycles and some low emission and hybrid vehicles can use the diamond lanes.)
Observe Ramp Speed Limit Driving too slowly or too fast on the entrance ramp will make the merge more difficult. Keep in mind that you must merge at the speed of the traffic on the freeway. We all have seen people try to merge 10-20 mph slower! On the other hand, you might lose control of your vehicle if you drive too fast on a curved ramp. Check Speed of Freeway Traffic As you enter the acceleration lane, check your left side mirror and glance over your left shoulder to observe the speed of the vehicles to your left. Accelerate to match the traffic flow. Watch Vehicle Ahead for Sudden Stops Some merging drivers pay more attention to accelerating than to observing the vehicle ahead. If you don‘t want to become part of that vehicle‘s license plate, pay attention! Locate a Gap in Traffic Turn on your left turn signal (if you haven’t already) and “target” an opening or gap in the lane to your left. Adjust Speed for Merging onto Freeway Through-lanes Adjust your speed to line up your vehicle with that gap in traffic. Check your left mirror and glance over your left shoulder once again to confirm your blind spot is unoccupied. Then safely enter the through lane. Signal Until Entering Through-lane Traffic Remember to manually cancel your turn signal after the merge has been completed - unless you are planning to continue to change lanes to the left. C. COMMON MISTAKES ENTERING FROM ACCELERATION LANE
Entering the freeway safely requires that a number of difficult moves be executed simultaneously. It is a challenging part of freeway driving. Try to avoid.... 1. SUDDEN SLOWING OR STOPPING If you are speeding up the entrance ramp and all of a sudden the cars have stopped on the freeway (a common occurrence on many freeways) you might be forced to hit the brakes, which could cause a rear-end collision. 2. MERGING AT TOO SLOW A SPEED If your vehicle is going too slow you might be forced to stop in the acceleration lane. Assuming you can find a sufficient gap and successfully merge, other vehicles coming up fast behind you could cause trouble. D. ENTERING DIRECTLY ONTO THE FREEWAY - NO ACCELERATION LANE Older freeways were designed without acceleration lanes. Know what to do when there is no merging area. 1. YIELD OR MERGE SIGNS BEFORE ENTERING Merging traffic must yield to traffic already on the freeway. 2. WAIT FOR A LONGER GAP BEFORE ENTERING You must wait for a longer gap in traffic when there is no acceleration lane to allow you to get up to speed. The longer gap will give you more time and distance to accelerate. 3. ACCELERATION SPEED TO BLEND INTO TRAFFIC The rate of acceleration must be considerably higher when there is no acceleration lane. You have to get up to speed sooner. In other words... punch it! This is one of those times you should be glad that you have your car in good working order. You do, don’t you? E. SPECIAL SITUATIONS There are three other types of entrance ramps. Know the proper way to navigate them. 1. TIMED ENTRANCE LIGHTS This system funnels vehicles onto the freeway at timed intervals, usually through the use of an intermittent traffic signal at the end of the on-ramp. As you enter the freeway, posted signs warn you to stop at the upcoming red signal. When the red signal turns to green, you begin accelerating onto the freeway. These signals, called timed entrance lights, smooth out the flow of traffic onto the freeway. Since freeways are only able to accommodate a specific number of cars at one time, this device is invaluable. 2. DOUBLE MERGE LANES Many on ramps require 2 entrance lanes to merge into one acceleration lane. Be aware of the other guy in the adjacent lane and merge SAFELY. Sometimes it feels like you are in a drag race with the car next to you and you are both waiting for that green light. The faster vehicle wins the right of way, right? WRONG! The car on the left has the right of way. Sorry!
3. DIAMOND LANES H.O.V. lanes (High-Occupancy Vehicle or car-pool) on-ramp lanes are indicated by white diamonds painted on the pavement. These lanes are usually reserved for vehicles that have 2 or more occupants and usually motorcycles. Also be on the lookout for entrance lanes that are reserved for buses only. Sometimes they can get confused with diamond lanes. F. LEAVING THE FREEWAY 1. SCAN AHEAD FOR SIGNS INDICATING DESIRED EXIT LANE Green guide signs let you know in advance that your desired off-ramp is approaching. 2. WHAT TO DO WHEN AN EXIT IS MISSED At some time or another, everyone misses an off-ramp. Don’t panic or get upset. Wait until the next off-ramp, it is usually less than a mile away. You can always find your way back. Most items at the supermarket are scanned now. G. EXIT LANES 1. DECELERATION LANES
Deceleration lanes allow drivers to reduce speed without endangering traffic to the rear. An exiting vehicle can leave the right through lane on the freeway before slowing. 2. MULTIPLE DECELERATION LANES Busier off-ramps are equipped with multiple deceleration lanes. Be prepared for the possibility of multiple lanes merging into one lane. Yielding to Other Drivers Some interchanges have weaving lanes that merge exiting and entering vehicles into the same lanes. When exiting the freeway always yield to vehicles entering by signaling, reducing your speed and allowing them to proceed ahead of you. 3. ADJUSTING SPEED Circular off-ramps require a reduction of speed from 65 mph to as slow as 35mph or even 25mph in just a few seconds! Be aware of this and start the slowing process early.
Posted Limits Most off-ramps have posted speed-warning signs(yellow). These speeds are always lower than the freeway speed, so you need to be alert and ready to change at a moments notice. Keep in mind the basic speed law. Never drive faster than the conditions suggest. Curved Ramps Drivers will often rear-end another vehicle when they fail to slow down on a curved exit ramp. Even if you are going slowly, it’s hard to see a vehicle stopped around the curve so cover the brake and be ready! Watch for yellow diamond shaped signs. Dropping from 65 mph to 25 mph is a serious adjustment – so please do so safely! H. CHOOSING LANES OF TRAVEL 1. TWO-LANE FREEWAYS A double yellow line usually separates two lanes of traffic in each direction. You may never cross over a double yellow to pass. Use of Right-hand Lanes The right lane should be used for slowing vehicles, vehicles with mechanical trouble (and only until they can exit) and for exiting. Use of Left-hand Lanes The left lane is for faster traffic and for passing (but you cannot legally travel in excess of the maximum speed limit). Some drivers exceed the speed limit. I know, you have a hard time believing that, but it's true! So don't hold position in the left lane at 65 mph thinking you are in the right. You are not the sheriff in these parts and it is not your job to make others uphold the speed law. If you have cars tailgating you, move over and let them pass. If you force them to pass you on the right, an officer can ticket you for impeding the flow of traffic. 2. THREE LANES OR MORE All up to date freeways have multiple lanes. By choosing the proper lane, you can make your drive not only faster, but safer. Use of Right-hand Lanes Don't drive in the right lane unless you are driving slower than the maximum speed limit. Since their speed limit is 55 mph, large trucks and vehicles pulling trailers are limited to the right 2 lanes. Use of Center Lane If you’re going to be on the freeway for a considerable distance, find a center lane in which you feel comfortable.... AND STAY THERE! Unnecessary lane changing will not get you to your destination any faster - and it probably will slow you down in the long run.
It’s like being in the checkout line of a supermarket. Every time you move into a line that seems to be flowing better, the line next to you starts to go faster! Use of Left-hand Lanes The left-hand lanes - or #1 and #2 lanes - are reserved for faster through traffic. When you are in these lanes, be aware of vehicles behind you - If they are all bunched together it is usually an indicator that you are going too slow. Remember: ‘Slower Traffic Keep Right.’ Move over and let them pass. 3. LANE USE WHEN APPROACHING INTERCHANGES Traffic flow slows when approaching interchanges because of increased lane changing. If you keep to the left you can avoid having to slow down, unless, of course you are transferring onto another freeway. Avoiding Merging Traffic
Getting into position well in advance of the interchange will help to avoid merging problems with other vehicles. Watch for lane markings that are common to interchanges, such as bold broken white lines, solid white lines and/or arrows. I. SPEED LIMITS 1. POSTED SPEED LIMITS Speed limits have been put into place to insure the safety of a variety of vehicles moving together in different and changing conditions. Cars, trucks, buses, RVs and vehicles towing trailers must all play well together at higher speeds. Maximum Speed Most freeways have a maximum posted speed of 65 mph. Some are as high as 70 mph (rural areas) and others as low as 55 mph (for trucks, vehicles towing and on older freeways in urban areas.) Speed for Conditions Maximum Speed limits are in effect only when the conditions and visibility of the road is best. The Basic Speed Law says you may never drive faster than is safe for prevailing conditions. For example, if it’s raining hard and you are going 65 mph in a 65 mph zone you could be cited under this law. It's important to eat the four basic food groups. Minimum Speed Any vehicle proceeding upon a highway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at such time shall be driven in the right-hand lane for traffic or as close as practicable to the right-hand edge or curb, except when overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction or when preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway. (b) If a vehicle is being driven at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at such time, and is not being
driven in the right-hand lane for traffic or as close as practicable to the right-hand edge or curb, it shall constitute prima facie evidence that the driver is operating the vehicle in violation of subdivision (a) of this section. Lane Use for Slower Traffic - 21655 V.C.
The Department of Transportation, or local authorities, may designate a specific lane or lanes for vehicles required to travel at reduced speeds. These lanes are usually on the right side. Signs are used to inform all drivers of the designated lanes and change in speeds. If a lane or lanes haven't been designated on a divided highway which has four or more lanes, any of those vehicles may also be driven in the right hand lane or the lane on the immediate left of that right hand lane. 2. DANGERS OF DRIVING TOO SLOW
You can cause a serious collision if you are driving too slowly on the freeway. By impeding the flow of traffic, you cause others to have to adjust to you. Also, a car driving at 65 mph or faster cannot always judge correctly the speed and distance of a slower moving vehicle ahead. It is a very common type of collision- a faster vehicle rear -ending a slower one. Or, you might cause that vehicle to swerve - a move that may endanger other drivers. Blocking the Flow of Traffic No person shall drive upon a highway at such a slow speed as to impede or block the normal and reasonable movement of traffic, unless the reduced speed is necessary for safe operation, because of a grade or in compliance with the law. Forced Lane Changes A fast-moving vehicle can overtake a vehicle inching slowly uphill and slam into its rear. This is particularly a hazard at night when drivers are tired. Slow-moving vehicles are just very dangerous on the fast paced roads. J. MAKING A SAFE LANE CHANGE The unsafe lane change is a top cause of collisions on the freeway. There is a right and a wrong way to change lanes. 1. CHECK FOR AMPLE SPACE
First, make sure you have some place to go. You can’t change lanes if there are cars occupying every space in the lane you want to move to. You need to have the “big picture“ here. Vehicle Ahead Make sure there is ample space between you and the vehicle ahead. While you are trying to change lanes and you happen to be tailgating, you run the risk of slamming into the vehicle in front of you if that driver suddenly hits the brakes. Vehicle to Rear Use your mirrors to confirm there are no vehicles behind you approaching fast. If another driver wants to pass you, let him. It‘s a lot safer than possibly cutting them off. Vehicles to Sides Glance over your shoulder to make sure another vehicle isn’t in your blind spot. 2. LOOK FOR HAZARDS Scanning ahead will allow you to identify a sudden change in the flow of traffic (slowing or stopping) that will force you to delay your lane change. Use of Mirrors Your mirrors are one of the most important devices in making a safe lane change. PLEASE USE THEM! Checking for Blind Spots After checking your own blind spots, make sure your lane change won’t place you in the blind spot of another vehicle.
3. SIGNALING IN ADVANCE Some drivers fail to signal their lane changes. It is a citable offense to change lanes on the freeway without signaling your intention if it interferes with someone else's driving (it is recommended to signal 5 seconds prior to making a lane change). No person shall turn a vehicle from a direct course or move right or left in the event any other vehicle may be
affected by the movement. Of course, if you are alone on a freeway and there is no one else affected, it is not against the law to not signal. 4. CHANGE LANES ONE AT A TIME With your signal activated, and after you have made sure you have the room and chance to pass, gradually move into your chosen lane. If you want to get over 2 or more lanes, you should be in each lane a minimum of 2 seconds. This will help to make sure you establish position before you change lanes again. Repeat the above procedures. 5. SPEED WHEN CHANGING LANES Your speed should remain constant during the change. If you must adjust speed, it is safer to accelerate into a lane change than to slow down. Avoid Slowing or Stopping If you must slow or stop during a lane change, the move probably should not have been tried. There might have been a hazard up ahead that you failed to see or you were tailgating or speeding. K. TIME MARGINS FOR FREEWAY CONDITIONS To drive defensively on the freeway you must look ahead as far as 1/4 mile and check your mirrors constantly. 1. ESTABLISHING A SPACE CUSHION Remember, a safe following distance on the freeway is three seconds. The vehicle behind you should be at a three second distance as well. Good luck! If you are being tailgated, change lanes to give yourself more of a space cushion. Avoid side-by-side driving and watch your blind-spots. L. HELPING OTHER DRIVERS ENTER OR EXIT Entering and exiting the freeway are potentially dangerous maneuvers - I bet there have been plenty of times you wish someone would be kind and allow you to enter or exit with ease. If you show that kindness to others, it may just come around to you. Not to mention you would be minimizing the chance of a collision. Something we all strive for. 1. MERGING SIGNS, WARNING OTHER VEHICLES ARE ENTERING THE FREEWAY Look for yellow diamond signs as you approach the merge area. These signs are placed on the approaches to the on-ramps. A merge sign prepares us for other vehicles entering our lane. Pilots will always announce to the tower when on approach. 2. ADJUSTING SPEED TO OPEN A GAP Help the merging driver by accelerating or slowing slightly to create a larger gap for the merging vehicle. 3. MOVING INTO ADJACENT LANES
By changing lanes to the left, you can create more space for the merging vehicle. If you are preparing to exit the freeway, you might want to stay out of the right lane until you have passed the acceleration lane. That way you will not interfere with merging traffic. M. FREEWAY EMERGENCIES Always expect the unexpected! Smart drivers are ready to react to emergencies, collisions, blocked lanes and other problems that might occur on the road. 1. BLOCKED ROADWAYS A variety of things could block the freeway. There might be road construction or maintenance work, a collision, or a large object in lanes. When you regularly scan the road ahead you can react early to a problem or slowdown and avoid the sudden swerving and braking that often ends in a crash. Steering Around If you see an object up ahead in your lane and it is small enough, you might be able to drive over it. Just be careful. Looks can be deceiving! You don’t want to rip open the underside of your vehicle. Drive slower when approaching any foreign object on the road. Unless you are in a monster truck, a larger object must be steered around. Even if you are in the truck you should go around! If you have maintained a space cushion to both sides of your vehicle you will have an “out” or an escape route. 2. STOPPING Sometimes stopping in lanes is your only option. For example, a collision up ahead has caused bumper-to-bumper gridlock. Warning Drivers to the Rear You must be concerned with the traffic behind you. This is why checking your mirrors frequently is so important! If you know what’s behind you, you have an idea what to do if something stops ahead. Warn the driver immediately to your rear, or your quick stop could trigger a chain-reaction collision. Here’s how: Brake Lights Pump your brakes before you hit them hard. Flashing brake lights will warn the driver behind you. Hazard Lights If there is time, your flashing hazard lights will be an additional warning to the traffic behind you. N. BREAKDOWNS When your vehicle becomes disabled on the freeway it is a potentially dangerous event. Prevention is the best cure. If you maintain your vehicle and have it serviced regularly, you avoid the hassle of being stuck in the middle of the freeway waving people around! Don’t ignore symptoms of trouble like strange noises, leaks, odors or vibrations.
1. PULLING TO THE SHOULDER The safest place to stop on the freeway is the right shoulder - as far as possible from moving traffic. Signaling Make sure you use your turn signal and begin to safely change lanes. If you are forced into a drastic reduction of speed, activate your flashing hazard lights. Shoulder Use and Vehicle Position Pull off the roadway as far as possible. Exit away from lanes and open the hood and the trunk to make your vehicle more visible. Unless the driver and passengers can immediately move to a safe area, it is recommended that everyone stay inside the vehicle with seat belts on until help arrives. Even if you are all the way off the road, a car has a chance of hitting you from behind. That’s why the seatbelt is still so important here. If you must leave your vehicle on the freeway, you'll want to remove it as soon as possible. A vehicle that is stopped, parked, or left standing on a freeway (even if disabled) for more than 4 hours may be removed. 2. WARNING APPROACHING TRAFFIC Do whatever you can to warn vehicles approaching from the rear. Hazard Lights Immediately turn on your hazard lights and exit the vehicle from your passenger side. Either lift up the hood or open the trunk to warn vehicles approaching from the rear. Flares or Warning Devices Placing a reflective triangle 50 - 100 feet behind your vehicle is a smart idea (always face traffic when out of your vehicle on the freeway). Some drivers have flares. Flares can be very dangerous, especially around gasoline. They can roll away into oncoming traffic unless you place the square cap on the back of the flare. Note: Please keep in mind that the above mentioned hazards and flares are suggested only for daytime. At night, you want to keep your lights, hazards and reflectors off. There is more of a chance that someone is driving under the influence at night. These drivers have a bad habit of focusing on flashing lights. Many people are injured or killed because they did not heed this advice. Of course, if your car is stuck in one of the lanes, this does not apply. Hazards and reflectors are needed. O. RE-ENTERING THE FREEWAY Assuming you were able to fix the problem with your vehicle, you now must get back on the freeway from a dead stop with no acceleration lane to help you out. 1. SIGNALING Alert traffic to your rear of your intention to merge. Turn off your hazard lights and activate your turn signal. (Left signal if you are on the right shoulder or right signal if you are on the median shoulder)
2. ACCELERATING ON SHOULDER Since there is no acceleration lane, you must use the shoulder. Make sure the shoulder ahead is clear for a distance sufficient enough to allow you to begin getting up to freeway speed. Be wary of drop offs (curbs on the shoulder that are about 6 inches high.) 3. ENTERING INTO AN ADEQUATE GAP As you accelerate, check your side mirror and monitor traffic in the next lane. If you find a large enough gap you might be able to change lanes while still driving under freeway speeds. You can then continue a rapid acceleration after you enter the through lane. Speed Usually freeway drivers allow the driver on the shoulder to enter the lane (we hope). Be prepared to speed up or slow down when entering the flow. Check for Hazards The freeway shoulder might be littered with debris. Watch for obstructions on the shoulder as you accelerate. Continue to check all mirrors and glance over your shoulder to make sure the road is free of hazards. P. SPECIAL FREEWAY PROBLEMS Freeway driving poses special challenges. Long drives at high speeds tend to alter our state of mental awareness. 1. VELOCITATION - UNCONSCIOUSLY GOING TOO FAST Have you ever been in the car and traveling at a high rate of speed? After a while, sometimes it can feel like you are going slow! This is due to the fact that drivers can become accustomed to high speed. After a period of time, they unconsciously increase their speed. One of the top reason drivers get speeding tickets is that they are simply not paying attention. Check Speedometer
By glancing at your speedometer on a regular basis, it’s possible to reduce your chances of being pulled over for speeding by 50%! It only takes a second to check it. Allow Time to Adjust to Lower Speeds Off-ramps have yellow speed warning signs indicating reduced speed ahead. Drivers often maintain their speed when exiting down a curved off ramp. They have been traveling so long at that speed they don't want to change. Slow down! When driving on surface streets after leaving the freeway check your speedometer more frequently. It takes time to adjust to slower speeds.
2. HIGHWAY HYPNOSIS A wide, straight, open highway with little or no traffic may seem like a safe road. Unfortunately, the lack of visual input this type of road offers can make driving very dangerous. Mile after mile of steady, high speed driving with no need to change lanes will often put a driver in a lazy state of mind, causing the driver to fall asleep.! Avoid Drowsiness Do whatever you can to keep alert: stop and take a break every few hours, change drivers, avoid heavy meals, listen to music, chew gum or turn up the AC. If all else fails, pull off the road into a parking lot or other busy area and take a nap. The author's favorite pastime is sleeping. Q. TOLL BOOTHS - WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN APPROACHING Back east, toll booths are a common part of driving. But in many states, they are not that well known. Because of this, many drivers are confused by them. Many bridges, such as the Golden Gate Bridge and the Vincent Thomas Bridge, charge tolls. Tolls are paid at tollbooths that are positioned on approaches to a bridge, or on an open highway. There are plenty of signs telling you one is coming up and they are placed far in advance. 1. REDUCED SPEED LIMITS Velocitation can be a problem when approaching toll booths so take special care to SLOW DOWN! 2. DISTANCE AHEAD Signs provide other information, including how far it is to the booth and how much is needed. Don’t dig through your pockets while your car is moving - have your money ready. 3. DESIGNATED LANES FOR SPECIAL VEHICLES Signs will indicate separate lanes for trucks and passenger vehicles. Signs also indicate automated lanes for exact change and booths with attendants. When approaching and exiting toll booths, be aware of other drivers changing lanes and moving into position. It’s like when the traffic has been going slow for a while due to a jam. Once it opens up, everyone wants to go fast to make up for lost time! (By the way, you can't). They are also trying to beat the other cars to race ahead. Don't fall into that trap. Just relax and drive safely.
XI. DEMANDS OF DRIVING ON AN OPEN
HIGHWAY Although the open highway is free from certain urban restrictions, it is not without its own set of challenges. You need to be as alert and defensive on the open highway as you are anywhere else. A. AREAS OF POTENTIAL HAZARDS Farm country with rolling hillsides and mountain roads with stunning views also present a variety of hazards. So be prepared! 1. UNMARKED FARM AND FIELD DRIVEWAYS Scan ahead to identify driveways. Heavy farm machinery often turns out onto the highway at slow speeds. Be prepared to reduce your own speed. Chances are, if you have a collision with a tractor you may have more than you bargained for! 2. LIVESTOCK CROSSING AREAS Signs should alert you to livestock crossing areas but you might also encounter a stray wandering around. 3. ROUGH ROAD CONDITIONS Over time, these heavy tractors and farm machinery will have an adverse affect on the road surface. Dirt, sand or gravel on the road makes traction a problem. So always reduce your speed on rough roads, regardless of the posted speed limit. 4. UNMARKED SHOULDERS A road with an unpaved or “soft” shoulder or no shoulder at all is inherently dangerous because there is no escape route to the right. Take care to stay in your lane and not drift over. Reduce your speed! The author loves his shoulders massaged. 5. ROADSIDE STANDS OR GAS STATIONS “Oh look! They’re having a sale on tomatoes! I’ll just slam on my brakes and whip my car over to the side here”. Avoid the temptation to make sudden turns off the roadway for gas or fresh fruit and vegetables. Scan the road ahead, then begin reducing your speed in preparation for the turn. Watch for drivers entering the roadway in front of you at an unsafe time or at slow speeds. B. OTHER USERS OF THE ROADWAY In rural areas you will encounter a wide variety of vehicles moving at different speeds. Add to this an occasional wild beast or farm animal - and you have yourself a problem! Be ready for any and all of it. 1. TRUCKS There are many inherent safety problems with trucks. They are slower and less maneuverable than smaller vehicles.
They take longer to accelerate or stop. You should be especially careful around large, heavily laden trucks. A motor truck is defined under the California Vehicle Code (CVC) as a vehicle that is designed and used primarily to haul property. This refers to both flatbed trucks and pickup trucks. The CVC prohibits drivers from transporting passengers in the rear cargo area of a pickup under any conditions, even if the area covered by a canopy or shell. Transporting passengers in this way is extremely unsafe since, in the case of a collision or quick stop, these unsecured, unprotected passengers can be thrown from the vehicle. The CVC is very adamant and detailed in its requirements about restraining children in a passenger vehicle. However, the CVC says nothing about restraining pets. Restraining pets in the vehicle can be difficult, since the driving environment can excite them, and even well trained pets become restless. For this very reason, though, some attempt should be made to restrain or confine them. Many companies provide car carriers for pets. Drivers may not transport any animals within the cargo area of a motortruck, unless: the space is enclosed or has side and tail racks to a height of at least 46 inches extending vertically from the floor, the vehicle has installed means of preventing an animal from being discharged, or the animal is cross tethered to the vehicle, or secured in a container or cage. Speed Trucks climb hills much more slowly than smaller vehicles. But when going downhill they run the risk of going too fast and perhaps losing their brakes. That’s why you may see signs along different routes that tell the truckers to test their brakes or “brake testing area ahead”. Passing Nobody likes to be stuck behind a big truck on a two-lane highway. But remember, if the truck is at the speed limit YOU MAY NOT PASS! But here is the secret: Trucks have to go 55 by law on most freeways. If you are in a 65 mph zone, and you need to go 10 mph faster than the vehicle you are passing. You can legally do so as long as the truck is following the speed limit. When passing a truck follow the procedures discussed earlier but with these added warnings:
• • • •
The pass will take longer. Estimate the distance needed to pass. Any approaching vehicle needs to be twice that distance away. Take care to avoid the draft of the truck when you pass. It is difficult to scan the road ahead when following a truck. If you are being passed by a truck, keep to the right of your lane and reduce speed slightly.
2. SLOW-MOVING VEHICLES Be ready for horse-drawn vehicles, farm machinery, or even bike riders. Speed Scan the road ahead and reduce your speed well in advance of any slow-moving vehicle. Clearance Communicate your intention to pass before you initiate the maneuver by tapping your horn or flashing your lights. Do not come up too fast and try to swerve dangerously around the other vehicle. Remember, all you need is a 10 mph speed advantage over them. Make certain you pass with ample clearance to avoid a possible collision should the other vehicle move unexpectedly.
3. ANIMALS If you swerve at high speed to avoid a small animal you could lose control. Continually scan the road ahead, shoulder-to-shoulder. You need as much time as possible to avoid a large animal in your path. You would be amazed at how much damage is caused by hitting a larger animal such as a cow! Make sure you are not going too fast so you have time to avoid one. Unexpected Watch for deer crossing signs. When driving at night with your high-beams and you see them reflected in the eyes of a deer on the shoulder, change them to low beams. Passing Pass large animals with extreme caution. Should you hit one, you will damage your vehicle and perhaps injure yourself and your passengers. Animals often travel in groups and a fence is no guarantee they won’t cross the road. Watch for deer grazing on the shoulder. They have a habit of darting out. C. ENVIRONMENT In the countryside, roads are designed to adapt to the geography. Steep grades and curves require special alertness and driving skill. 1. CURVES When driving around a curve, slow down as you approach and enter, maintain the reduced speed as you round the curve and accelerate back to normal speed as you come out of the curve. Speed and Braking Your need for braking depends on how sharp the curve is. A gradual curve requires much less speed adjustment than a sharp one. Be careful of dirt or gravel on a curving road that might cause you to lose traction if you are driving too fast. Hazards The most dangerous hazard on a curve is low visibility. Exercise caution on winding roads. There may be a stalled car or a slow-moving truck within the radius of the curve. 2. HILLS Warning signs are usually posted only when the hill is steep. Driving on hills is governed by the laws of gravity. Braking distance is shortened when driving uphill and made much longer when driving downhill. Shifting Gears Downshifting will give your vehicle more climbing power but reduce speed. Downshifting when going downhill will slow your car a little, but every little helps on a hill. Watch for signs indicating steep grades. When you see these signs, it’s time to shift to a lower gear.
Visibility and Speed As you approach the top of a hill you can’t see oncoming traffic. Slow down, keep to the right and be ready - not only for an oncoming vehicle but also for a slow-moving one heading downhill directly in front of you. Richard Gere has been in a lot of movies. Brake Failure or Overheating If you don’t turn off your air conditioner when driving up a steep grade your engine might overheat. Don’t ride your brakes when driving down a steep grade. Brakes can fail when a driver applies the foot brake continually on a downhill grade. Downshifting will allow you to ease off the brakes and keep them cool. And, if you don’t drive too fast up the hill, you won’t have to worry about braking as hard down it. 3. MOUNTAIN DRIVING Mountain driving is distinguished by winding curves and little level road. Mountain roads sometimes have a series of sharp turns called switchbacks. Vehicle Condition Extremely hot or cold weather can cause stress on engine parts, which could lead to vehicle breakdown. Make sure your vehicle is in top condition - brakes, cooling systems and the carburetor (it should be adjusted to compensate for higher altitudes). Speed Larger vehicles, like trucks, buses and RVs moving at slower speeds can be an inconvenience at the very least and a road hazard at best. Be prepared by driving slow so as to react to slower moving vehicles and by scanning ahead. Allowing Other Vehicles to Pass
If you are driving under the speed limit on a straight, uphill stretch of road and there are vehicles behind you, look for a turn-out area or a wide shoulder and allow the vehicles to pass. The law says 5 vehicles have to be behind you but I bet that the 4th guy isn’t that happy. So be considerate and move over to let them pass. Passing Slower Vehicles Remember! You need a 10 mph speed advantage to pass safely on a level road. Passing a slower vehicle on an uphill grade will take more speed to accomplish. Make the pass quickly and safely.
4. SPECIAL PROBLEMS IN HIGH ALTITUDES The thinner air in high altitudes places your vehicle and you under added stress. Overheating If your engine is running too hot, turn off your air conditioner (assuming it was on), pull over and stop in a safe place and let the engine cool down. Turning on the heater will reduce engine temperature. This is tough to do in 90 degree heat but it helps the car. Vapor Lock If you hear chugging sounds or experience engine failure, there is a good chance it is vapor lock. Vapor lock occurs when bubbles form in fuel lines, cutting off the flow of fuel to the engine. If this occurs, pull off the road, lift your hood and let the engine cool. D. MEETING OR APPROACHING OTHER VEHICLES ON OPEN ROADWAYS On the open highway we often spend long stretches of time alone on the road. And when other vehicles are suddenly encountered, trouble may arise. 1. MEETING LINES OF CARS If you come upon a long line of vehicles approaching from the opposite direction, be careful! There might be vehicles attempting to pass and pulling out into your lane. If you come up behind a long line of vehicles remember - you may only pass one vehicle at a time. 2. MEETING AT HILLTOPS Reduce your speed and don’t even think about passing another vehicle as you approach the crest of a hill. 3. MEETING AT NIGHT High-beams are usually on at night on the open road. Switch to low-beams when you come up behind another vehicle or when you see the headlights of an approaching vehicle. Never stare into the headlights of an approaching vehicle. Instead, look off to the right. There is usually a white line there that indicates the edge of the road. Follow that until you are clear of the other driver’s brights. 4. MEETING SLOW-MOVING VEHICLES Reduce your speed and wait for a safe and legal chance to pass. Follow all of the tips for passing we have mentioned. E. ROAD CONDITIONS Drivers will encounter a wide variety of road conditions on the open highway. Be prepared to adjust to: 1. ROUGH ROADS
Pot-holes, broken pavement or loose gravel on the road require slower speeds. Try to straddle pot-holes; otherwise, you could damage your tires and suspension. 2. TRACTION Standing water, snow, ice, mud, gravel or sand will increase your stopping distance and/or cause your vehicle to skid. Reduce speed where traction is a problem. Never turn your wheel abruptly when passing over these areas - you could lose control. 3. WIDTH OF ROAD A narrow road has little margin for error. Beware of rocks and boulders near the side of the road. One small slip could send you smack into them! Some roads are bordered closely by large trees. Some people just can’t see the road for the trees. Take care when approaching a bridge; the road will usually decrease in width. 4. FIELD OF VIEW On open roads your field of view may be panoramic. But, don’t be distracted by farms, fields and other sights. And when you are on narrow rural highways, maintain your concentration. 5. LINE OF SIGHT On straight roads you can scan well ahead of your vehicle and anticipate trouble. But when your line of sight is reduced (as it is, for example, around curves) you should reduce your speed so you have the time to take evasive action, should a hazard suddenly appear.
XII. HAZARDOUS CONDITIONS Rain, snow and fog create problems because visibility and traction are diminished. And motor vehicles can suffer a variety of mechanical failures, which could lead to a collision. A. DRIVING IN THE FOG How many times have you been in fog while driving and just wished for a lighthouse or something to guide you? Certain areas of California have excessive fog during the fall and spring. Fog has been known to cause massive chain-reaction collisions. Here are some specific steps to take to help insure your safety when driving in the fog. 1. OBTAINING MAXIMUM VISIBILITY AND REDUCING
Drivers must do whatever they can to maximize their view out the window. To achieve this, nothing should be hanging from or stuck to the windows. Appropriate Use of Headlamps The use of high beam lights in the fog is not recommended because the light is reflected back into the driver’s eyes. Always use low-beams. Use of Fog Lights and Mounting Fog lamps are mounted low on the vehicle and cast a light that cuts through the fog. They may be used with headlights, but not in substitution of them. If you drive regularly in areas prone to fog your vehicle should have fog lamps. Make sure they're in proper working condition. Mel Torme was known as the "Velvet Fog". Windshield Wipers and Defrosters Windshield wipers, washers and defrosters are essential when driving through fog. Warmer air will defrost (or defog) a windshield faster than cooler air. Windshields can experience a lot of water in the fog - make sure your wipers are in top condition. B. SPEED What is a safe speed in the fog? You can’t drive too fast and you can’t drive too slowly. Chances are, the vehicle behind you is following your tail lights. So please be careful! 1. REDUCE SPEED, BUT KEEP MOVING WHEN ENTERING FOG Reduce your speed but keep moving. Turn on your low-beams and fog lamps. 2. WATCH FOR SLOW-MOVING VEHICLES AHEAD
Be prepared for slow-moving (or even stopped) vehicles ahead. Get ready to hit the brakes at a moment’s notice. Remember, this is NOT the best time to make a cell phone call or look at a map! 3. LOOK IN REARVIEW MIRROR FOR VEHICLES APPROACHING FROM REAR Some drivers drive too fast in the fog. Check your rear-view mirror frequently and be ready! Turn on your flashing hazard lights. This will warn vehicles approaching from the rear. C. WHEN YOUR VEHICLE STALLS The greatest danger to a driver in a stalled vehicle is being struck from the rear. Drivers run out of gas, engines can suffer vapor-lock, an alternator might fail causing a loss of power so: 1. MOVE OFF ROADWAY AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE If your engine won’t restart you must get off the road as quickly as you can. With your emergency flashers on, move onto the shoulder or to the side of the road as far away from traffic as possible. 2. MOVE AWAY FROM VEHICLE If you can’t move safely away from the vehicle then stay inside with your seat-belts fastened and wait for help. 3. RESTRICTED USE OF FLASHERS OR FLARES Make your stalled vehicle visible. Hazard lights should be flashing. An open trunk or hood will give the vehicle a higher profile. But use caution when deploying flares. They might ignite roadside brush or spilled fuel. Reflectors are safer. D. GENERAL TIPS: 1. LISTEN FOR TRAFFIC YOU CANNOT SEE Since visibility is reduced you need to rely more on your hearing. When driving in fog, be sure to turn your radio off and your fan down to low. Open your windows and listen for approaching vehicles. 2. AVOID CROSSING ROADWAYS Crossing roadways in reduced visibility is dangerous. And NEVER cross a fog-covered road on foot! 3. AVOID PASSING A LINE OF CARS Never attempt to pass in any sort of bad weather, including fog. Stay in line and be sure to follow at a safe distance. The lines at Disneyland can be a long distance. 4. CONSIDER POSTPONING DRIVING UNTIL CONDITIONS CLEAR
If you can leave the road safely then do so. Find an off-ramp and or pull off the road into a gas station or restaurant parking lot. Conditions will eventually change for the better. 5. KEEP HEADLIGHTS AND TAILLIGHTS CLEAN Visibility is already reduced in bad weather - dirty lights will make the problem worse. Every time you stop, take a cloth and give them a quick wipe. E. DRIVING ON SLIPPERY SURFACES Wet or oily roads, or roads strewn with sand, gravel and/or other debris can cause your vehicle to lose traction and start skidding. 1. OBTAINING MAXIMUM VISIBILITY If you scan ahead, you won’t be surprised by a change in road conditions. Don’t forget the INSIDE of your windshield - keep it clean, too. Drive With Headlamps On Many modern cars are equipped with daytime running lights (lights on the car that are on all the time). Always activate your low beams in bad weather. You will be more visible to other drivers. Drive With Headlamps On Use Windshield Washers to Remove Film and anything else that is on there. Always make sure you have enough washer fluid. In colder areas, washer fluid mixed with antifreeze is available. This helps if your windshield ices over. Many people have changed from film to digital picture taking. F. SPEED The Basic Speed Law says you may never drive faster than is safe for conditions. ALWAYS slow down in the rain or any time the road surface is adversely changed. 1. KEEP BELOW DRY ROAD SPEED The posted speed limit is for a clean, dry road. If the road is wet and slippery - you must reduce your speed. 2. DECREASE SPEED WHEN ENTERING A CURVE A curved road that is also wet is extremely hazardous. You could easily spin out driving too fast around a wet curve so slow down, even if you think your vehicle can “handle it”. G. STAYING ON THE ROADWAY When driving in slippery conditions you run the risk of losing control of your vehicle and skidding off the road or into another vehicle. 1. STAY ON PAVED PORTION OF ROADWAY
Stay centered in your lane and do not allow your vehicle to drift toward the right. On a narrow road with a drop-off to a soft shoulder, this is especially important. 2. DRIVE IN TRACKS OF THE CAR AHEAD When driving in the rain you will notice the vehicle directly in front of you may leave tracks in the water. Your traction will be increased if you directly follow in those tracks. In this case, it is safer to follow a truck due to the larger tire tracks. 3. ALLOW MORE OF A SPACE CUSHION It takes a motor vehicle 2 to 3 times longer to stop in the rain. If the recommended following distance on a dry road is 3 seconds, that means you must follow at least 6 to 9 seconds behind the vehicle in front of you! 4. AVOID SUDDEN MOVEMENTS A sharp turn of your steering wheel could cause a loss of control on a slippery, and sometimes even a dry road. Don’t change lanes abruptly. In the rain, always accelerate or brake gently and gradually. H. GOING THROUGH DEEP WATER Always approach standing water with caution. You don’t know how deep the water is. There could be pot-holes or eroded roadway underneath. It might be safer to turn around and circumvent the water. If you go through it, you also risk splashing water onto the oncoming car, which cuts their visibility. 1. DO NOT OVERLOAD THE REAR If your vehicle is carrying a heavy load it should be distributed evenly in the vehicle. Too much weight in the rear could hamper safe passage through deep water. 2. SHIFT TO A LOWER GEAR When moving through standing water, a lower gear can give you extra traction. Reduce speed but keep the vehicle moving so you don’t lose momentum. I. HYDROPLANING Hydroplaning occurs when your tires lose contact with the road because they are riding or floating on a thin layer of water. It can also occur because of low tire tread, speed or improper inflation. This occurs usually during heavy rain or when there is a large puddle on the road. 1. REGAINING CONTROL Take Foot of Gas You can regain control by releasing the accelerator and pushing in the clutch. This will slow your vehicle and let the wheels turn freely.
Do not Brake If the vehicle is hydroplaning, do not use the brakes to slow down. If the drive wheels start to skid, push in the clutch to let them turn freely. If you follow in the tracks of the vehicle in front of you, the risk of hydroplaning will be puddle on the road. In order to avoid hydroplaning, slow down when there is a lot of water on the road. In a heavy rain, your tires can lose all contact with the road at about 50 mph. Be especially careful driving through puddles. J. DRIVING IN SNOW AND ICE If you drive in the mountains during winter you will probably encounter near-freezing temperatures and severe weather. On cold icy days bridges and overpasses freeze first. The driver and vehicle need to be prepared for driving in snow and ice. 1. OBTAINING MAXIMUM VISIBILITY In blizzard conditions, snow can cause a “white-out” effect. Visibility in a snowstorm is worse than in rain because vision is also hampered to the rear and to the sides of your vehicle. And even if the snow is not blowing, sunlight hitting snow can cause the driver to become “snowblind.” Appropriate Use of Headlamps High-beams in a snowstorm would have the same blinding effect as using them in fog. Use only low-beams. One of the author's favorite sayings is "beam me up, Scotty". Windshield Wipers and Defrosters
Clear your windshield of snow and ice. Not just a little space to see through, either! Clean the whole windshield and even the top of the car. Snow tends to fall from there and onto your windows. Wiper blades must be in top condition. Washer fluid is essential when driving in snow and slush. Keep warm air blowing on the inside of your windshield to prevent fogging. K. SPEED Driving on snow and ice requires you to almost be at a crawl. 1. KEEP SPEED BELOW DRY ROAD SPEED If you are driving in a snowstorm at 35 mph and the speed limit sign says 35 MPH, you would be in violation of the Basic Speed Law. 2. KEEP STEADY SPEED Avoid sudden braking or acceleration. Scan ahead to anticipate your need to stop.
3. REDUCE SPEED ON CURVES AND SHADY AREAS Water changes to ice at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. When ice forms, it can be absolutely clear. This phenomenon is called “black ice.” If the sun is not directly shining upon it, it is very difficult to see this kind of ice. On overcast days or when approaching shady stretches of road, be especially careful. You don’t want to hit a patch of ice on a curve, so remember to reduce your speed and avoid abrupt steering maneuvers. 4. MAINTAIN A LONGER SPACE CUSHION When driving in snow and ice, keep as much open space around your vehicle as possible. If you don’t have that space cushion we have mentioned, you can’t take evasive action. Increase your following distance to 6 seconds and avoid tailgaters. L. GENERAL TIPS TO AVOID SKIDS: 1. WATCH FOR AREAS WHERE ICE COLLECTS Bridges, tunnels, hills, curves and shady stretches of road are all places where ice can form and become a road hazard. 2. AVOID TURNING OR SWERVING SUDDENLY Sudden steering moves may cause a loss of control. 3. AVOID APPLYING BRAKES TOO SUDDENLY OR TOO HARD Sudden braking or acceleration will cause a loss of traction and start you into a skid. Remember to pump your brakes in the snow (unless you have ABS. Then you hold the pedal down) 4. DO NOT DRIVE ON ROAD EDGE OR SHOULDER When a snowplow clears the road there are usually snow drifts piled high on the shoulder. And sometimes these snow piles can mask rocks and boulders, not to mention other debris. Be especially cautious when there is no escape route to your right. 5. DO NOT CHANGE TO A LOWER GEAR AT TOO FAST A SPEED Downshifting at high speed has the same effect as depressing the brake pedal, you could lose traction and skid. 6. WHEN TO USE CHAINS Chains are required in many mountain regions of the state. They provide the best traction when driving through deep snow. Watch for posted signs and be aware of local weather forecasts to determine if chains are needed. M. HOW TO STOP SKIDDING 1. AVOID BRAKING SUDDENLY - PUMP BRAKES LIGHTLY BUT FAST
Remember, if your car is equipped with ABS (anti-lock braking system) you apply the brakes firmly and the system will pump the brakes automatically. NEVER PUMP ANTI-LOCK BRAKES! On cars without ABS, apply the brakes firmly but prepared to let up on the pedal and start pumping if you continue to skid. 2. STEER IN THE DIRECTION THE REAR END IS SKIDDING As your front end skids right, steer left... as your front end skids left, steer right. Again, this should be your automatic reflex action anyway, so don’t fight it trying to think, “what was it that I was supposed to do in a skid?” 3. AVOID OVER STEERING Turn the wheel back and forth in a controlled manner to counter the direction of your front end. If you over-correct by over steering your vehicle might spin completely around! 4. KEEP THE CLUTCH ENGAGED On vehicles with manual transmissions, keep the clutch pedal depressed and keep your foot off the accelerator while you counter-steer. 5. AVOID LIFTING YOUR FOOT FROM THE ACCELERATOR SUDDENLY Release pressure on the accelerator gradually. Letting up on the accelerator abruptly will cause a change in traction and might trigger a fish- tailing effect. N. STARTING WHEN TRACTION IS POOR Traction allows your tires to grip the road. If you are stopped on a slick stretch of road that offers little or no traction here are some techniques to get you moving again: 1. START IN HIGHER GEAR A lower gear will cause your tires to press down more firmly, causing them to spin. A higher gear will give the tires less power and a more delicate touch that is likely to get you going again. 2. ACCELERATE GRADUALLY If you depress the gas too quickly your tires will lose traction and start spinning. Some officers view this as an exhibition of speed and may cite you. O. HOW TO ROCK OUT Drivers will on occasion become stuck in deep mud or snow. If you have a shovel you might be able to dig yourself out. A traction mat (available at most auto part stores) under the wheels could free your vehicle as well. If all else fails there’s always the tried and true “rock-out” technique. 1. START SLOWLY IN LOW GEAR Gently depress the accelerator with tires pointed forward.
2. SHIFT RAPIDLY TO REVERSE Lift your foot off the accelerator and quickly shift to reverse. 3. BACK UNTIL WHEELS START TO SPIN Depress the accelerator once again and back up until the rear tires start spinning but be careful! Do not let them spin too long or you’ll dig yourself in deeper. 4. SHIFT BACK TO LOW GEAR Release pressure on the accelerator and quickly shift back to low gear. 5. REPEAT MOVEMENT IN RAPID SUCCESSION As you repeat these steps your vehicle will gradually build forward momentum and free itself form the mud or snow. P. MECHANICAL FAILURE Keeping your vehicle in good working order is always the best way to avoid mechanical failure. Try to keep your vehicle in top condition by having it serviced regularly. Unfortunately, chances are good that you will encounter one or more of the following mechanical failures over the course of your driving lifetime. It’s good to know what to do: 1. ACCELERATOR STUCK You take the foot off the gas but the pedal stays down. Or perhaps your cruise control fails to cancel. Depress the pedal sharply. If it doesn’t release, shift to neutral, activate your hazard lights, maneuver into a safe position and turn off your ignition (to accessory position) when you no longer need to change direction. It is not recommended that you reach down and try to pull the pedal up while still driving. 2. BLOWOUT If you are driving along and all of a sudden...BANG! Your tire blows, don’t panic. Take your foot off the accelerator and grip the steering wheel tightly. You want to keep the vehicle under control. DO NOT STEP ON THE BRAKES. It might cause you to swerve dangerously. Slow to a stop off the road and wait to apply the brakes until the car is almost stopped. When the Chicago Bears played the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl, it was a blowout. 3. BRAKE FAILURE A brake failure is a frightening prospect. So have your brakes serviced on a regular basis. If your brakes suddenly give out, downshift to a lower gear. Pump the brake fast and hard 3 or 4 times. This builds up pressure in the brake line and could help. If there is still no braking power, start pumping the emergency (parking brake). Or, if you have a handheld emergency brake, lift it up while keeping the button on top pressed down. Activate your flashers and sound the horn to warn other drivers. Rub you tires against a curb or drive into something soft to slow you down. Turn off the ignition (to accessory position) when you no longer need to change direction.
4. HEADLIGHT FAILURE This is usually caused by a bulb failure or blown fuse. Try activating the dimmer switch. If that fails, try the headlight switch. Activate your turn signal or hazard lights and pull off the road as quickly as possible. NOTE: Your high beams may still be operational even if your low beams have failed. Use them with caution. 5. POWER STEERING FAILURE In this day and age, most of us are used to the luxury of power steering. Unfortunately, it will fail if your engine dies, if you turn off your ignition, suffer a broken belt or a loss of fluid. Pull off the road as quickly as possible. Be ready - your steering wheel will require much more force to turn than usual.