Good driving is based on practice and
being alert at the wheel.
- Good drivers know that driving is a full time
job. They give driving their full attention.
- Good drivers drive defensively, scanning the
road ahead as well as objects to the side and rear. This is a
good way to see possible problems developing and still have time
to avoid them.
- Good drivers know, understand, and respect the
- Good drivers keep their vehicles in safe operating
- Good drivers do not drive when they are ill,
upset or angry.
Getting Ready to Drive
Before you start your engine:
- Make sure all windows are clean. Remove anything
that blocks your view of the road.
- Adjust the seat so you can reach all controls.
- Adjust the inside and outside rearview mirrors.
You should not have to lean forward or backward to use them.
- Lock all car doors.
- Put on your safety belts. Ask all passengers
to do the same. Any passenger under 18 years old is required by
law to be buckled up.
- Make sure your car is in park or neutral gear
before starting the engine.
Never move your car until you have looked
in front, behind and to the side for pedestrians and oncoming traffic.
Then, signal and pull into traffic when safe.
Defensive driving means doing all you
can to prevent crashes. As a defensive driver, you will "give" a
little. You will change your driving to fit the weather conditions,
the way you feel, and the actions of other drivers, bicyclists and
Follow these steps to avoid accidents:
- Look for possible danger. Think about what might
happen. If there are children playing by the road, plan what you
will do if one runs or rides into the street.
- Understand what can be done to prevent a crash.
See the defensive driving tips which follow as well as Handling
- Act in time. Once you have seen a dangerous
situation, act right away to prevent a crash.
Use these defensive driving tips if
you see that you are about to be involved in a crash:
- It is better to swerve right instead of toward
oncoming traffic to prevent a crash.
- Hitting a row of bushes is better than hitting
a tree, post or solid object.
- Hitting a vehicle moving in the same direction
as you are is better than hitting a vehicle head-on.
- It is better to drive off the road than skid
off when avoiding a crash.
- It is better to hit something that is not moving
instead of a vehicle moving toward you.
Avoiding Rear-end Collisions
Many crashes happen because one vehicle
runs into the back of another one. Here are some things you can
do to lower the risk of someone running into the rear of your vehicle.
- Check your brake lights often to make sure they
are clean and working properly.
- Know what is going on behind you. Use your rearview
- Signal well in advance for turns, stops and
- Slow down gradually. Avoid any sudden actions.
- Drive with the flow of traffic (within the speed
limit). Driving too slowly can be as dangerous as driving too
- To avoid striking the vehicle in front of you,
keep at least two seconds following distance. This is done by
following the instructions found under the section, Minimum Safe
Basic Driver Improvement
Any driver can take a basic driver improvement
course. The course teaches ways of keeping crashes from happening.
One driver can sign up, or a group can ask for a class. Consult
your yellow pages under, Driving Instruction, for the location of
Florida law requires all occupants of
cars, pickup trucks, and vans who are 6 years of age or older to
wear seat belts, regardless of seating position. Passengers 16 and
older can be fined individually for violating this provision. Drivers
will be held responsible and fined for passengers 15 years old and
younger who are found unrestrained. Children infant through 3 years
of age must be properly secured using a crash-tested, federally
approved child restraint device. Such restraint device must be a
separate carrier or a vehicle manufacturer's integrated child seat.
For children aged 4 through 5 years, a separate carrier, an integrated
child seat, or a seat belt may be used. This seat belt law applies
to passenger cars manufactured beginning with the 1968 model year,
and trucks beginning with the 1972 model year.
The law exempts the following from the
seat belt requirements:
- Any person certified by a physician as having
a medical condition that causes the seat belt use to be inappropriate
- Employee of a newspaper home delivery service
while delivering newspapers on home delivery routes.
- School buses.
- Buses used for transportation of persons for
- Farm equipment.
- Trucks of a net weight of more than 5,000 pounds.
- Motorcycle, moped or bicycle.
In a crash, you are far more likely
to be killed if you are not wearing a safety belt. Wearing shoulder
belts and lap belts make your chances of living through a crash
twice as good.
In a crash, safety belts:
- Keep you from being thrown from the vehicle.
The risk of death is five times greater if you are thrown from
a vehicle in a crash.
- Keep you from being thrown against parts of
your vehicle, such as the steering wheel or windshield.
- Keep you from being thrown against others in
- Keep the driver behind the wheel, where he or
she can control the vehicle.
SAFETY BELTS SAVE LIVES!
Wear lap belts around your hips, not
your stomach. Fasten them snugly. Wear a shoulder belt only with
a lap belt. Don't just use your safety belt for long trips or high-speed
highways. More than half of the crashes that cause injury or death
- at speeds less than 40 mph, and
- within 25 miles of home.
THE LAW: ALL CHILDREN 5 YEARS OLD OR YOUNGER
MUST USE A RESTRAINT DEVICE WHEN RIDING IN A MOTOR VEHICLE.
The law requires every driver to secure
children five years of age or younger in child restraint devices
riding in a passenger car, van, or pick-up truck, regardless of
whether the vehicle is registered in this state. Infant carriers
or children's car seats must be used for children three years old
and younger. Children's car seats or safety belts may be used for
four- and five-year-olds.
All infant carriers and car seats must
be crash-tested and approved by the U.S. Government.
Children being carried or riding bicycles
should wear properly fitted bicycle helmets.
Recommended Child Restraints
- Infant Carriers - Birth to 9 months or 20 pounds.
- Children's Car Seats - Nine months to four years
- Lap Belt - Four years and older (over 40 pounds).
- Lap Belt and Shoulder Belt - 55 inches tall.
Leaving Children Unattended
or Unsupervised in Motor Vehicles
No person responsible for a child younger
than 6 years of age shall leave such child unattended or unsupervised
in a motor vehicle for a period in excess of 15 minutes. No person
shall leave a child unattended for any period of time if the motor
of the vehicle is running or if the health of the child is in danger.
Warning: When It's Hot Outside,
Do Not Leave Children Unattended!
On a hot summer day, the interior of
a car can get dangerously hot. One study found that with the windows
up and the temperature outside at 94 degrees, the inside of a car
could be 122 degrees in just half an hour, or 132 degrees after
Speed causes many crashes. More drivers
are convicted of speeding than any other offense. To avoid being
fined or involved in a crash, obey the speed limits.
Speed is very important in a collision. If you double the speed
of a car, you increase its force of impact four times. If you triple
the speed, the impact is nine times as great.
70 Does Not Always Mean 70
Remember that speed limits show the
fastest speed you may drive under good conditions. You are responsible
for adjusting your driving speed to the road conditions. For example,
if the weather is bad or there is a lot of traffic, you must drive
more slowly than the posted speed. The safe speed is the one that
allows you to have complete control of your vehicle.
Florida Speed Limits
*The 55 MPH maximum speed limit is
still in effect in Florida except where otherwise posted. Speed limits
are 70 MPH on some rural interstate highways. Speed limits may be
changed on other multi-lane highways. Drivers should not assume because
the area appears to be rural, the limit is 70 MPH. Observe and obey
the posted speed signs as there may be frequent changes from area
to area along the selected highways.
||All Other Vehicles
|Business or Residential
Limited Access Highways
|All Other Roads
Driving Too Slowly
is also Against the Law
Drive with the flow of traffic (within
the speed limit). You should not drive so slowly that you block
other vehicles moving at normal, safe speeds. You can be issued
a ticket for driving too slowly.
Following Officer's and
If you are stopped by a law enforcement
officer, pull off immediately to the extreme right, clear of traffic
when possible. Turn off your engine. Reduce your headlights to the
parking light position at night. Sit calmly and follow the instructions
of the officer. You must follow any lawful order or direction of
(1) any police officer or (2) any fireman at the scene of a fire
who is directing traffic. If a police officer is directing traffic
where there are signal lights, obey the officer - not the signals.
More crashes happen at intersections
than any other place. Be very careful when approaching any intersection
- Look both ways and be ready to brake or stop.
- Drive at the slowest speed just before entering
the intersection, not while crossing.
- Do not pass or change lanes.
- Be aware of vehicles behind you. Will they be
able to stop if necessary?
If you are stopped:
- Look for bicyclists and pedestrians who may
be crossing the intersection from either direction.
Who has the right-of-way in Florida?
The answer is no one! The law only says who must yield (give up)
the right-of-way. Every driver, motorcyclist, moped rider, bicyclist
and pedestrian must do everything possible to avoid a crash.
You must yield the right-of-way to all
other traffic and pedestrians at stop signs. Move forward only when
the road is clear. At four-way stops, the first vehicle to stop
should move forward first. If two vehicles reach the intersection
at the same time, the driver on the left yields to the driver on
An open intersection is one without
traffic control signs or signals. When you enter one, you must yield
the right-of-way if:
- A vehicle is already in the intersection.
- You enter or cross a state highway from a secondary
- You enter a paved road from an unpaved road.
- You plan to make a left turn and a vehicle is
approaching from the opposite direction.
When two cars enter an open intersection
at the same time, the driver on the left must yield to the driver
on the right.
Roundabouts are a new type of intersection,
which improves traffic flow and reduces traffic crashes. Most roundabouts
do not require stopping, which allows vehicles to move continuously
through intersections at the same low speed. Roundabouts are designed
to move all traffic through a counterclockwise direction. Vehicles
approaching the roundabout yield to circulating traffic; however,
drivers must obey all signs to determine the correct right-of-way
in the roundabout.
Safety Rules for Pedestrians
- Look to the left and the right before stepping
off any curb.
- Cross only at intersections or designated crosswalks.
Drivers are always more alert for pedestrians when they approach
- Cross with the green light or "WALK" signal.
Make sure you have enough time to cross. Although the motorist
must yield, he may not see you in time.
- While walking along a highway, always walk on
the shoulder on the left side, facing traffic. Wear light colored
clothing or use a flashlight to make you more visible to drivers
It is the motorist's responsibility
to do everything possible to avoid colliding with any pedestrians.
Bicyclists, skaters and skateboarders in a crosswalk or driveway
are considered pedestrians. Turning motorists must yield to pedestrians
crossing the street or driveway at any marked mid-block crossing,
driveway or intersections without traffic signals.
In Florida, the bicycle is legally defined
as a vehicle. Bicyclists using a public roadway are considered operators
of motor vehicles and are responsible for observing traffic laws.
With few exceptions, there is only one road and it is up to motorists
and bicyclists to treat each other with care and respect. Adherence
to the law is the foundation of respect.
The primary traveling aids for a person
who is blind are often either a white cane or a trained guide dog.
Independent travel involves some risk that can be greatly reduced
when you, the driver, are aware of the use and meaning of a white
cane or guide dog.
Drivers must always yield the right-of-way
to persons who are blind. When a pedestrian is crossing a street
or highway guided by a dog or carrying a white cane (or a white
cane with a red tip), vehicles must come to a complete stop.
On a two-way street or highway, all
drivers moving in either direction must stop for a stopped school
bus which is picking up or dropping off children. You must remain
stopped until all children are clear of the roadway and the bus
signal has been withdrawn. Violation of this law is considered a
moving violation and is subject to a mandatory hearing.
If the highway is divided by a raised
barrier or an unpaved median at least five feet wide, you do not
have to stop if you are moving in the opposite direction of the
bus. Painted lines or pavement markings are not considered to be
barriers. If you are moving in the same direction as the bus, you
must always stop - and not go forward until the bus stop signal
has been withdrawn.
BOTH CARS MUST STOP!
Crossing guards are posted in areas
where it is unsafe for children to cross alone. When you see a guard,
reduce your speed as you near a school and children are in the area.
Watch for school zone posted speed and stop if necessary at the
marked stop lined but never in the cross walk. Obey signals from
any crossing guard.
It is the driver's responsibility to
do everything possible to avoid colliding with pedestrians. Remember,
children are unpredictable. Do your part to make every crossing
a safe crossing.
All drivers should yield the right-of-way
to public transit bus traveling in the same direction which has
signaled and in reentering the traffic flow from a specifically
designated pullout bay.
Pedestrians and drivers must yield the
right-of-way to funeral processions. When the first vehicle in the
funeral procession lawfully enters an intersection, other vehicles
in the procession must have their headlights on as a signal to other
drivers not to drive between or interfere with the procession while
it is in motion unless directed to do so by a police officer.
Driveways form an intersection with
sidewalks. Motorists must yield to bicyclists and pedestrians on
Pedestrians and drivers must yield the
right-of-way to law-enforcement cars, fire engines and other emergency
vehicles using sirens and/or flashing lights. Pull over to the closest
edge of the roadway right away and stop until the emergency vehicle
has passed. Do not block intersections.
Turning a corner may seem to be a simple
operation, but many traffic crashes are caused by drivers who do
not turn correctly.
There are nine steps in making a good
- Make up your mind about your turn before you
get to the turning point. Never make "last minute" turns.
- If you must change lanes, look behind and to
both sides to see where other vehicles are located before making
- Move into the correct lane as you near the intersection.
The correct lane for the right turn is the lane next to the right
edge of the roadway. On a two-lane road with traffic in both directions,
an approach for a left turn should be made in the part of the
right half of the roadway nearest the center line.
- Give a turn signal for at least the last 100
feet before you make your turn. Let other drivers know what you
are going to do.
- Slow down to a safe turning speed.
- When you are slowing to make a right turn, the
bicyclist you passed may be catching up to you. Search over your
shoulder before turning. Yield to bicyclists and pedestrians.
- Yield to pedestrians who may be crossing your
path when turning left. Always scan for pedestrians before starting
- Make the turn, staying in the proper lane. Yield
the right-of-way to vehicles (including bicycles) coming from
the opposite direction.
- Finish your turn in the proper lane. A right
turn should be from the right lane into the right lane of the
roadway entered. A left turn may be completed in any lane lawfully
available, or safe, for the desired direction of travel. See diagrams
for making left turns from or into one-way streets.
If you reach an intersection where you
wish to make a right or left turn and are not in the proper lane,
you should drive to the next intersection. Then make the turn from
the proper lane.
Study these diagrams showing lanes
to use in making turns.
Left and Right Turns
Left from one-way into 2-way
Left from one-way into one-way roads
Left from two-way onto two-ways
Left from two way onto one-way
Bike Lanes at Intersections
Slow down and look for bicyclists. Signal
your turn prior to crossing through the bike lane at the dashed
striping. Yield to any bicyclist. Complete the turn from the designated
right turn lane.
If there is no right turn lane, after
checking to make sure that no bicyclists are present, you may enter
the bike lane at the intersection or driveway.
Turnabout (Three-Point Turn)
Sometimes you will need to turn your
car around in a very small space. Use a three-point turn only if
the road is too narrow for a U-turn and you can't go around the
block. To make a three-point turn:
- Move as far right as possible, check traffic,
and signal a left turn.
- Turn the steering wheel sharply to the left
and move forward slowly. Stop at the curb, or edge of roadway.
- Shift to reverse, turn your wheels sharply to
the right, check traffic, and back your vehicle to the right curb,
or edge of roadway.
You can now move in the opposite direction. Check
traffic, and move forward. Never make a three-point turn or a U-turn
on a curve or a hill.
In some places, U-turns are not safe.
Signs may be posted to let you know this. You may make safe U-turns
on any roadway where there is two-way traffic except where you see
Turn Signals and Emergency
You must use hand signals or directional
signals to show that you are about to turn.
It is against the law to use your directional
signals to tell drivers behind you that they can pass.
Four-way emergency flashers should only be used while your vehicle
is legally stopped or disabled on the highway or shoulder of highway.
right turn left turn slow or stop
Always drive on the right side of a
two-lane highway except when passing. If the road has four or more
lanes with two-way traffic, drive in the right lanes except when
overtaking and passing.
Left lanes on some interstate roads
are reserved for car pool vehicles with two or more occupants in
the car - watch for diamond signs in the median. The center lane
of a three-lane or five-lane highway is used only for turning left.
If you see red reflectors facing you
on the lane lines, you are on the wrong side of the road. Get into
the proper lane immediately! If you see red reflectors on the lines
on the edge of the road, you are on the wrong freeway ramp. Pull
over immediately! Red reflectors always mean you are facing traffic
the wrong way and could have a head-on collision.
Blind spots are areas near the left
and right rear corners of your vehicle that you cannot see in your
rearview mirrors. Before you move sideways to change lanes on an
expressway or to pass on any road, turn your head to make sure these
areas are clear.
Areas bordered by X's are blind spots
for a car with an outside mirror on the left side only.
On the roads with more than one lane in each direction, do not drive
in someone else's blind spot. Speed up or drop back so the other
driver can see you.
- Stay a safe distance behind the vehicle you
want to pass. The closer you get to the vehicle you want to pass,
the less you can see ahead. This is especially true when passing
trucks, trailers, and other large vehicles.
- Before you pull out to pass, check your blind
spots and make sure that you have plenty of time and room to pass.
- On a two-lane road, tap your horn, or at night
blink your headlights to let the other driver know you are passing.
- Give your signal before you move into the left
- Do not return to the right side of the road
until you can see the vehicle you passed in your rearview mirror.
- You must return to the right side of the road
before coming within 200 feet of any vehicle coming from the opposite
- Passing on the right is only legal when there
are two or more lanes of traffic moving in the same direction
or the vehicle you are passing is making a left turn. Pulling
off the pavement to pass on the right is against the law.
Don't speed up. Stay at your same speed
or slow down.
Help other drivers pass you safely.
Move to the right side of your lane to give them more room and a
better view of the road ahead.
DO NOT OVERTAKE AND
PASS AT THESE LOCATIONS
When You May Not Pass
You may not pass on a two-lane road
with traffic moving in opposite directions under these conditions:
- Where you see a "DO NOT PASS" or "NO PASSING
- Where a solid yellow line is painted on your
side of the center line.
- On hills or curves.
- At intersections.
- Within 100 feet of a bridge, viaduct, tunnel,
or railroad crossing.
Violators may be arrested or issued
Minimum Safe Following Distances
Leave plenty of space between you and
the car ahead. If it stops quickly, you will need time to see the
danger and stop.
Using the Two-Second Rule
At any speed, you can use the two-second
rule to see if you are far enough behind the car in front of you:
- Watch the vehicle ahead pass some fixed point
- an overpass, sign, fence corner, or other marker.
- Count off the seconds it takes you to reach
the same spot in the road ("one thousand and one, one thousand
- If you reach the mark before you finish counting,
you are following too closely. Slow down and check your following
The two-second rule applies to any speed
in good weather and road conditions. If road or weather conditions
are not good, increase your following distance. See the chart on
total stopping distance.
When parking on a public road, move
as far away from traffic as possible. If there is a roadside shoulder,
pull as far onto it as you can. If there is a curb, pull close to
it - you must not park more than one foot away.
Always park on the right side of the
roadway, unless it is a one-way street.
Make sure your vehicle cannot move.
Set the parking brake and shift to park with an automatic transmission
or reverse with a manual transmission. Turn off the engine and lock
the vehicle. Florida law requires that you take the keys out of
your vehicle before leaving it. Always check traffic behind you
before getting out, or get out on the curb side.
Before you leave any parked position,
look over your shoulder to the rear to make sure the way is clear.
Give the proper turn signal if driving from a curb and yield to
Parking on Hills
When parking on hills:
- Turn your wheels so that if your car starts
to move by itself it will roll away from traffic or into the curb.
Study the diagram provided.
- Set the parking brake.
- Put automatic gear shift in park. Shift manual
gears to reverse (downhill) or first (uphill).
The rear markers represent the REAR
corners of the parking space. The forward markers represent the
approximate CENTER of the parking space. When properly parked, the
vehicle should be centered inside the space with no part of the
vehicle extending out into the traffic lane.
Where Parking is not Allowed
- On the roadway side of another parked vehicle
- On crosswalks.
- On sidewalks.
- In front of driveways.
- By curbs painted yellow or where "No Parking"
signs are posted.
- Within intersections.
- Within 15 feet of a fire hydrant.
- Within 20 feet of an intersection.
- Within 20 feet of the entrance to a fire, ambulance
or rescue squad station.
- Within 50 feet of a railroad crossing.
- On the hard surface of a highway where parking
spaces are not marked.
- On any bridge or overpass or in any tunnel.
- Within 30 feet of a rural mail box on a state
highway between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.
- Within 30 feet of any flashing signal, stop
sign or traffic signal.
- In such a way that you block or create a hazard
for other vehicles.
Parking lights must be used at night
on any vehicle parked on a roadway or shoulder outside of cities
and towns. Directional signals must not be flashed on one side only
on a parked or disabled vehicle. Use your emergency flashers.
Driving with parking lights only (in
place of headlights) is against the law.
Parking Privilege for Disabled
Disabled persons do not have to pay
parking fees on any public street, highway, or metered space. Their
vehicles must display a valid parking placard from the rearview
mirror or on the front dash. These may be obtained from a tag agent
or tax collector's office and must be renewed every four years.
They must park in spaces reserved for
the disabled when possible. These spaces are marked by the wheelchair
symbol and "Parking by Disabled Permit Only" signs. Vehicles illegally
parked in spaces reserved for the handicapped will be ticketed and
may be towed away.
- Proof of Eligibility: Statement
from a physician licensed in the United States, the Division of
Blind Services of the Department of Education, or the Veterans
Administration to the effect that applicant is a severely physically
disabled individual with permanent mobility problems which substantially
impair his or her ability to ambulate or is certified as legally
- Contact your local County
Tax Collector or Tag Agent.
- Complete HSMV 83039 "Application
for a disabled person's parking permit."
- Provide Proof of Eligibility - Doctor's
- Pay $15
- Present valid Florida driver license or
Expressways - also called interstate
highways, freeways, and turnpikes - are multiple-lane roads with
no stop signs, traffic lights, or railroad crossings. For these
reasons, expressways can give you a fast, safe way to get where
you need to go.
Pedestrians, hitchhikers, bicycles,
animal-drawn vehicles or motor-driven cycles and motor scooters
with 150 cubic centimeter displacement or less are not allowed on
Entering and Leaving Expressways
Vehicles can enter and leave expressways
only at certain points. Because expressway traffic is usually moving
at or close to the maximum speed allowed, you need to know how to
enter and exit safely.
All expressway entrances have three
basic parts: an entrance ramp, an acceleration lane, and a merging
area. Follow these guidelines to enter an expressway safely:
- On the entrance ramp, begin checking for an
opening in traffic. Signal for your turn.
- As the ramp straightens into the acceleration
lane, speed up. Try to adjust your speed so that you can move
into the traffic when you reach the end of the acceleration lane.
- Merge into traffic when you can do so safely.
You must yield right-of-way to traffic on the expressway. You
cannot always count on other drivers moving over to give you room
to enter, but do not stop on an acceleration lane unless traffic
is too heavy and there is no space for you to enter safely.
When leaving an expressway:
Get into the exit lane. Posted signs
will tell you which one. Most expressway exits are from the right
- Signal your intention to leave the expressway
by using your turn signals.
- Slow down as soon as you are off the expressway.
Check the posted safe speed for the exit ramp.
- Do not make last-minute turns into an exit.
If you go past your exit, you must go to the next one.
Expressway Safety Reminders
- Plan your trip. Know just where you will get
on and get off.
- Drive in the right lane and pass on the left.
If there are three lanes, use the right lane for lower speed driving,
the left for passing. If you stay in the right lane, watch for
cars entering the expressway. Adjust your speed or move into the
center lane so they can enter safely.
- Never stop on the pavement, shoulder, or connecting
ramp of an expressway except in an emergency. If your vehicle
breaks down, it may be parked on the side of the expressway (completely
off the pavement) for no more than six hours. Raise your hood
and tie a white cloth to your antenna or left door handle to show
you need help.
- Never back up on an expressway entrance ramp
or exit ramp. The only exception to this would be if you are trying
to enter an express way through an exit. In this case, you would
see a "WRONG WAY" or "DO NOT ENTER" sign. Then you must back up
or turn around.
- Do not cross, drive on or park on the median
- Do not follow too closely. Rear end collisions
are the greatest danger on expressways. Always leave room for
- Stop driving when you feel tired. On long trips
the hum of the engine and your lack of movement can make you feel
sleepy. Stop for a cup of coffee, a short walk, or a nap. Do not
risk failing asleep at the wheel.
- Stay out of other drivers' blind spots.
- Beware of turnpike hypnosis. Continuous expressway
driving can become monotonous. Avoid staring. Get into the habit
of shifting your eyes left and right and using rearview mirrors.
You will need to drive with extra care
at night. You cannot see as far ahead or to the side, and glare
from oncoming cars can reduce your vision even more. Follow these
guidelines for driving at night:
- Use your headlights (low beam or high beam)
between the hours of sunset and sunrise.
- Low beam headlamps are only effective for speeds
up to 20-25 mph. You must use special care when driving faster
than these speeds, since you are unable to detect pedestrians,
bicyclists and others.
- High beam headlights can reveal objects up to
a distance of at least 450 feet and are most effective for speeds
faster than 25 mph.
- Don't use high-beam headlights within 500 feet
of oncoming vehicles.
- If you are behind other vehicles, use low beams
when you are within 300 feet of the vehicle ahead.
- When leaving a brightly lit place, drive slowly
until your eyes grow used to darkness.
- If a vehicle comes toward you with high beams,
flash your lights to high beam and back to low beam once.
- Don't look directly at oncoming headlights.
Instead, watch the right edge of your lane. Look quickly to be
sure of the other vehicle's position every few seconds.
- Drive as far to the right as you can if a vehicle
with one light comes toward you.
Animals and Horses
Wild and domestic animals may move unpredictably
towards or across the travel path of an approaching motor vehicle.
When an animal is seen in the road or on the road shoulder, you
should slow down and, if necessary, yield the right-of-way. Be especially
careful in rural areas at night. Often an animal's eyes shining
in the headlight beams will be seen first.
Use reasonable care when approaching
a person who is riding or leading an animal upon the roadway or
shoulder of the road. Horses have poor side vision and are easily
frightened by loud noises or sudden movements.
Fog or Smoke
It is best not to drive in fog or smoke.
If you must, slow down, turn on your low beam headlights, and be
ready for a fast stop. Use windshield wipers in heavy fog. If the
fog or smoke becomes so thick that you cannot see well enough to
keep driving, pull all the way off the pavement and stop. Turn on
your emergency flashers.
The first few drops of rain mean danger.
Roads are most slippery just after the rain begins, because oil
dropped from cars has not been washed away. Slow down and plan for
at least two times the normal stopping distance.
In a heavy rain, your tires can ride
on a thin film of water, like skis. This is called hydroplaning.
When your tires are not touching the road, you can easily lose control
and skid. Keep your tires on the road by slowing down when it rains,
and by having tires with the right air pressure and good tread.
Brakes often become wet after driving
through deep water or driving in heavy rain. They may pull to one
side or the other, or they may not hold at all. If this happens,
slow down and gently push on the brake pedal until your brakes are
You must turn on your low beam (dim)
headlights when driving at any time between sunset and sunrise including
the twilight hours between sunset and sunrise including the twilight
hours between sunset and full night or between full night and sunrise.
You must also use these lights during any rain, smoke or fog. Parking
lights do not meet requirements of this law.
When you are driving, things can happen
very quickly. You may have only a fraction of a second to make the
right move. Follow these guidelines for handling emergencies.
- If possible, park where the disabled vehicle
can be seen for 200 feet in each direction.
- Move the vehicle so all four wheels are off
- Turn on your emergency flashers.
- Get all passengers out on the side away from
- Tie a white cloth on the left door handle or
- Raise the hood.
- Do not use brakes.
- Concentrate on steering.
- Slow down gradually.
- Brake softly when the car is under control.
- Pull completely off the pavement.
- Test brakes lightly after driving through deep
- Brakes may pull to one side or may not hold
- Dry brakes by driving slowly in low gear and
Right Wheels off Pavement
- Take your foot off the gas pedal.
- Hold the wheel firmly and steer in a straight
- Brake lightly.
- Wait until the road is clear.
- Turn back on the pavement sharply at slow speed.
Car or Motorcycle Approaching
in your Lane
- Sound your horn.
- Brake sharply.
- Steer for the side of the road or the ditch.
Jammed Gas Pedal
- Keep your eyes on the road.
- Tap the gas pedal with your foot.
- Try to pry the pedal up with the toe of your
- Shift into neutral.
- Turn off the ignition. (Do not turn the key
to lock, or your steering will lock.)
- Use your brakes.
- Pump the brake pedal hard and fast.
- Shift to a lower gear.
- Apply the parking brake slowly, so you do not
- Rub your tires on the curb to slow your vehicle,
or pull off the road into an open space.
- Take your foot off the gas pedal.
- Do not use your brakes, if possible.
- Pump the brakes gently if you are about to hit
- Steer the car into the direction of the skid
to straighten the vehicle out. Then steer in the direction you
wish to go.
- If the fire is small and you have a portable
extinguisher, you should attempt to extinguish the fire.
- If you cannot extinguish the fire and it continues
to get larger, get away from the vehicle, due to the presence
of toxic fumes and the possibility of explosion.
- Never apply water to a gasoline or diesel fire.
Sharing the Road with
- Allow three feet of clearance when passing a
cyclist. Reduce your speed if the roadway is narrow.
- After parallel parking, check for cyclists before
opening the driver's side door.
- At night, avoid using high-beam headlights when
a cyclist is approaching. The cyclist could be temporarily blinded.
- Do not follow a cyclist closely. If you are
too close and the cyclist must lay down their bike down on the
road in an emergency, you could run them over.
Sharing the Road with
Whether you are sharing the road with a car, truck,
bus, or other large vehicle, it's important for safety's sake to
obey traffic laws, abide by the rules of the road, and drive defensively.
Are there any special
rules for sharing the road with a truck?
Yes! Here are some suggestions from professional truck drivers.
- Side Blind Spots. Trucks and buses have
much larger blind spots on both sides than do passenger cars.
If a commercial driver needs to swerve or change lanes for any
reason, contact with the car in such a spot can occur.
- Rear Blind Spots. Unlike passenger cars,
trucks and buses have deep blind spots directly behind them. Tailgating
greatly increases your chances of a rear-end collision with a
- Unsafe Passing. Another "No Zone" is
just in front of trucks and buses. When passing a bus or truck,
be sure you can see the cab in your rear view mirror before pulling
- Wide Right Turns. Truck and bus drivers
sometimes need to swing wide to the left in order to safely negotiate
a right turn. They cannot see cars directly behind or beside them.
Cutting in between the commercial vehicle and the curb or shoulder
to the right increases the possibility of a crash.
- Backing Up. When a truck is backing up,
it sometimes must block the street to maneuver its trailer accurately.
Never cross behind a truck that is preparing to back up or is
in the process of doing so. Remember, most trailers are eight
and a half feet wide and can completely hide objects that suddenly
come between them and loading areas. Automobile drivers attempting
to pass behind a truck enter a blind spot for both drivers.
- When passing a truck, first check to your front
and rear, and move into the passing lane only if it is clear and
you are in a legal passing zone. Let the truck driver know you
are passing by blinking your headlights, especially at night.
The driver will make it easier for you by staying to the far side
of the lane.
- On a level highway, it takes only three to five
seconds longer to pass a truck than a car. On an upgrade, a truck
often loses speed, so it is easier to pass than a car. On a downgrade,
the truck's momentum will cause it to go faster, so you may need
to increase your speed.
- Complete your pass as quickly as possible, and
don't stay alongside the other vehicle.
- If the driver blinks his lights after you pass,
it's a signal that it is clear to pull back in. Be sure to move
back only when you can see the front of the truck in your rear-view
mirror After you pass a truck, maintain your speed.
- When a truck passes you, you can help the truck
driver by keeping to the far side of your lane. You'll make it
easier for the truck driver if you reduce speed slightly. In any
event, do not speed up while the truck is passing. After passing,
the truck driver will signal to let you know that the truck will
be returning to your lane.
- When you meet a truck coming from the opposite
direction, keep as far as possible to the side to avoid a sideswipe
accident and to reduce the wind turbulence between the two vehicles.
Remember that the turbulence pushes the vehicles apart. It does
not suck them together.
Following a Truck
In general, trucks take slightly longer
than cars to stop because of their size. However, at highway speeds
or on wet roads, trucks may have better traction and stability allowing
them to stop more quickly. A car following too closely may not be
able to stop quickly enough to avoid rear-ending the truck.
If you are following a truck, stay out
of its "blind spot" to the rear. Avoid following too closely, and
position your vehicle so the truck driver can see it in his side
mirrors. Then you will have a good view of the road ahead, and the
truck driver can give you plenty of warning for a stop or a turn.
You will have more time - to react and make a safe stop.
When you follow a truck at night, always
dim your headlights. Bright lights from a vehicle behind will blind
the truck driver when they reflect off the truck's large side mirrors.
If you are stopped behind a truck on
an upgrade, leave space in case the truck drifts back slightly when
it starts to move. Also, keep to the left in your lane so the driver
can see that you're stopped behind the truck.
When you follow a motorcycle, remember
that motorcycles have the ability of stopping much more quickly than
other vehicles in emergencies. Following too closely endangers your
life and that of the motorcyclist. Do not follow a motorcyclist closely.
If you are too close and the motorcyclist must lay their bike down
on the road in an emergency, you could run over them.
Go to Chapter Four
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1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter
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