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Chapter 9. Major Traffic Laws 3 - Part 2

Florida Drug and Alcohol Test (TLSAE) Course: Chapter 9. Major Traffic Laws - Part Three

This chapter covers the following topics

9.2. Additional Considerations and VEHICLE EMERGENCIES


Section 9.2. Additional Considerations and VEHICLE EMERGENCIES

STOPPING
The second most common violation next to speeding is disobeying a stop sign.


When you stop at a stop sign, wait two or three seconds if it's a busy area. Stop, count one thousand one, one thousand two, look both ways, and then go. Why? Have you ever been on a roller coaster and you get to the end of the ride, and you feel like you have stopped? You're going to take off your seat belt, but when you look around, the people in front of you on the ride are moving just a little bit. Because the roller coaster is so heavy, you think you stopped, but in actuality you're still moving. So, if you believe you have stopped at a stop sign, you may not have stopped all the way because your vehicle is so heavy. There is a change in momentum because of the weight of your vehicle. It feels like you've stopped, you could swear you've stopped, but you haven't stopped. You're still moving, and that's what the police officer sees. So, at stop signs, come to a complete stop and count one thousand one, one thousand two, look both ways, and then go.

Who should be allowed to go first at a four way stop sign? Or, who should we give the right of way to?



Take a look at the picture on the right. Car Number One gets there first, Car Number Two gets there second. Who goes first, Car Number One or Car Number Two? Car Number One got there first, so Car Number One goes first. Car Number Two should yield the right of way to Car Number One. However, never insist on the right of way.

Never say, "I got here first, so I'm going no matter what." That's how crashes occur.

You should know the proper order when encountering these situations. It's like being at a dance. When you ask someone to dance you would say, "Would you like to dance?" You don't say "I'm going to dance with you. Get up!" You will never get anywhere that way. It's the same when yielding the right-of-way. Car Number One should be allowed to go first. Car Number Two should yield the right of way. If two cars get there at the same time. Car Number Two should allow Car Number One to go first.

You should always yield the right of way to the car on your right.


Who should go first if three cars arrive at the four-way stop at the same time?




The answer is Car Number Three. Look at the diagram. Car Number One is on the right of Car Number Two and Car Number Three is on the right of Car Number One. Always yield to the car farthest on the right.



Who goes first if four cars arrive at the four-way stop at the same time?



In this case, somebody must start the process and let one of the cars go first but it's very rare to have four cars arrive at the same time. Pretend you're driving Car Number Three. You'll let Car Number Four go first. After Car Number Four goes through the intersection Car Number Three follows, then Car Number One, then Car Number Two. So always yield the right of way to the car on the right.

The best way to describe the right of way is that it is something you must give up, or yield, in certain circumstances. It's your responsibility as a motorist to do everything possible to avoid a collision, and that means never assuming, in any situation, that you automatically have the right to move ahead, or make a turn, or maintain your speed, and that other vehicles must yield or stop for you.

That's why, when we say who goes first at a four-way stop, we say that the car on the left has to yield the right of way to the car on the right. We do not say that the car on the right automatically has the right of way. That car is as responsible as any other car for the safety of all the vehicles in that situation. The law states that the car on the left must give the other car safe passage through the intersection. The spirit of the law is meant to create a driving environment where we all treat each other with courtesy, rather than trying to claim some special privilege.

NEVER INSIST ON THE RIGHT-OF-WAY

Here are other situations where you are required to yield the right of way:

  • When you approach a yield sign, you are required to yield the right of way to traffic on the road you are trying to enter or cross.
  • When you see an emergency vehicle displaying flashing lights, or you hear a siren, you are required to yield the right of way to that vehicle.
  • Yield the right of way to pedestrians in a crosswalk.
  • Yield the right of way to oncoming traffic when you are trying to make a left turn.

Another example of right of way is letting someone into the lane when you're in a traffic jam. It's about extending courtesy to others. Drivers should treat each other with respect. Then an otherwise chaotic situation becomes orderly and manageable.

Remember that we all share in the responsibility to keep our roads safe. Even if other vehicles are required to yield the right of way to you, it doesn't mean you should be any less careful.

As a driver, you will occasionally encounter adverse or difficult conditions. You must be prepared to cope with a threatening emergency situation. In this chapter, you will learn how to compensate and deal with these hazards.

What is the trickiest time of the day to drive?

A. Early morning
B. Late night
C. After the sun sets

The answer is C.

Almost 50% of all fatal crashes occur at night. However, even though nighttime is the most dangerous time to drive, the difficulty begins at twilight, the period between sunset and nighttime. During twilight, the sky is bright, but at ground level it becomes progressively darker. The contrast of the bright sky and darkness at ground level deceives the eyes and they don't know how to adjust.

The onset of total darkness changes the driving situation again, because now the eyes are adjusted to the darkness. The ability to see ahead has increased. But your peripheral vision (side-to-side vision) is almost non-existent.


Night Driving Tips:

  • Slow down after sunset.
  • Increase your following distance and be on the alert for brake lights ahead.
  • Don't overdrive your headlights. You should always be able to stop within the distance that you can see ahead in your headlights.
  • Look away from oncoming headlights.
  • Switch to low beam headlights when following or approaching another vehicle.
  • Be aware of drowsiness and stop driving if you feel sleepy.
  • If you are using high beams, dim them when you are within 350 feet of the vehicle ahead or within 500 feet of an oncoming vehicle.
  • Do not drive with only your parking lights on.

PLAN AHEAD


Good route planning will allow for the time, weather and traffic changes, and give you the ability to reach your destination without problems. Allow yourself enough time to reach your destination. Leave earlier when traveling at night. Be extra careful if the weather turns nasty. Statistically, your chances of being involved in a fatal crash are almost double between 6 pm and 3 am on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, so try to avoid being on the road during those hours.



BE ON THE LOOKOUT



Whether it is day or night, always be on the lookout for hazardous roads conditions. Sometimes you will find yourself on a road that's poorly maintained. These roads may have rough areas or potholes that can cause you to lose traction and control of your vehicle. When you encounter these conditions on the road, slow down to increase traction and prepare yourself to maneuver around the bad areas. Keep an eye on the shoulder of the road. In most cases the shoulder provides you with an additional place to maneuver in order to avoid a crash. Some roads have a soft shoulder that can't support your vehicle or a sudden drop-off from the side. Be aware of these conditions and reduce your speed to better deal with an emergency.



CHECK THE WEATHER REPORT




Adverse weather conditions include rain, fog, snow, ice, and high wind. When driving in these conditions, adjust your driving behavior accordingly. For instance, high winds can affect the control you have over your vehicle, so it is always wise to reduce your speed under these conditions. When driving in windy weather, you want to avoid a crosswind situation. A strong cross wind could blow you into the path of oncoming traffic or into some other roadside hazard. The most important thing to understand is that bad weather means increased stopping distance and reduced visibility. In bad weather you must take extra care to see and to be seen.





DON'T DRIVE IN FOG



Fog is especially treacherous. The best advice is, don't drive in fog if you can help it. If you have to go out, drive very slowly. Keep in mind that a light fog can change quickly to a thick fog. Your speed should never exceed the point at which you can stop and at which you can clearly see ahead. Always use your low-beam headlights when you're driving in foggy weather. High beam rays reflect at about the same level as your eyes, making each particle act like a tiny mirror. It reflects the light right back into your eyes and reduces your vision.



If you must drive in fog:
  • Drive slowly and turn on your low beams.
  • Increase your following distance and be alert for brake lights ahead.
  • Be prepared to stop quickly.
  • If you can't see, pull completely off the road and turn off your lights so another vehicle doesn't see your taillights and rear-end your vehicle.
  • Don't drive until conditions improve.

SLOW DOWN DURING RAIN STORMS


In rainy weather, the hazard of reduced visibility is compounded by reduced traction. Traction is the grip between your tires and the road. As the moisture reduces friction, tires lose their grip. The distance needed to stop a car increases and the driver has less control of the vehicle. The danger of reduced traction is greatest within the first half hour of rainfall. At that time, the pavement becomes especially slippery when the rain mixes with the oil and the dust on the surface of the road.






BE CAUTIOUS


Always drive with caution whenever there is a chance that your traction will be reduced. If you find yourself driving on slick roads, here are some safety tips to follow:
  • Gradually reduce your speed.
  • Do not brake hard or suddenly on wet or slippery pavement.
  • Avoid any sudden acceleration.
  • When you change your speed or direction, do so smoothly and gradually rather than sharply.
  • Increase your following distance to allow more time to stop.
  • If you approach a sharp curve or a hill, grip the steering wheel firmly and give yourself time to slow down.
  • In heavy rain or still water, your tires can actually lose contact with the road and glide over the water. It's called HYDROPLANING. If you start to hydroplane, first of all, stay calm. Don't brake suddenly, but do take your foot off the accelerator. The weight of your vehicle will help your tires regain traction.
SKIDDING

Your chances of going into a skid increase drastically when driving on slick or wet roads, so adjust your speed and stay alert. You could even skid on dry pavement. When you skid, the back of your car begins to turn and you have little to no control over the vehicle.

If your vehicle skids:
  • Never slam on the brakes
  • Ease your foot off the accelerator
  • Steer in the direction of the skid
  • Stop when you have regained control of your car
If you must stop quickly, the best course of action depends on whether your vehicle is equipped with anti-lock brakes (ABS).

Anti-Lock Brakes

If you have anti-lock brakes, just press firmly on your brake pedal and the computer will take over. Do not pump the brake pedal. You may hear noise coming from your wheels or feel a vibration in the brake pedal. Don't panic; this is all part of the braking system adjusting the pressure applied to each wheel to prevent the car from skidding out of control.

Non Anti-Locking Brakes

If you do not have anti-lock brakes, you must do the complete opposite. Apply a quick pumping motion to your brake pedal. It's important to steer smoothly, not sharply, into the skid.

WATER ON THE ROAD



After a storm, be aware of standing water. When you see a large pool of water covering the road, you should do whatever you can to avoid it. Even if the water doesn't look deep, don't drive through it. Find a way to go around it.

Many hazards can be hiding in standing water. One of the most treacherous is sinkholes. After a heavy rain or tropical storm, the ground can sometimes do unpredictable things. When a sinkhole forms, the ground gives way from all the water soaking through it and forms a huge depression in the roadway. But because it's covered by a pool of water, you have no idea it's there. Its appearance is deceiving. You may think you can just drive through the water because it's just a puddle, but the next thing you know, your car is twenty feet underwater.


FLASH FLOODS


Another danger in Florida is flash floods. Even six inches of water can be hiding a current that will sweep your vehicle away. Every year cars and trucks get carried away by runoff from a flash flood. Find a safe way around it. If you have absolutely no other option but to drive through it, be careful. Keep an eye out for currents.

Drive slowly. You never know how deep the water really is or what it's hiding.

RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH THE USE OF HAND-HELD ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATION DEVICES WHILE OPERATING A MOTOR VEHICLE

Computer and communication technology is evolving rapidly and it seems like every week a new type of cell phone, computer, or computer tablet is hitting the market. Recent advances in technology have blurred the line between cell phones, GPS devices, and computers. These devices have changed our world, allowing us to constantly stay in touch either by phone, texting or through social networks; they also allow us to use the built-in GPS device to find directions to our destination or look for nearby stores, restaurants, or theaters. While these devices have made life much easier for us, they have also created an increasingly dangerous situation on the road as more and more drivers use them while they drive.

There are several problems associated with hand-held communication devices that increase the risks associated with their use while driving; all involving driver distraction by:
  • Taking your hands off the wheel,
  • Taking your mind off the very important task of concentrating on the driving situation, and
  • Taking your eyes off the road.
These dangerous distractions, all happening at the same time, create a critical hazard not only for you, the driver, but for other users of the road along with pedestrians who may be in your path.

Taking your hands off the wheel ― Reaching for and fiddling with a hand-held communication device, whether it be a cell phone or computer tablet, takes your hands off the wheel; taking away your ability to fully control the vehicle should an emergency arise. Remember, emergencies can't be predicted, you never know when one may occur.

Taking your mind off the important task of concentrating on the driving situation ―While it may not look like it at first glance, driving a car is a complex task requiring you to make several critical decisions and many more minor decisions for every mile you drive. Studies have shown that a person using a communication device while driving is concentrating on communicating rather than paying attention to the road ahead. Cell phone users tend to drive slower than the speed limit and miss important street signs and signals. Much as we like to think we are capable of multi-tasking, the studies show that the brain can't handle two activities at once; you are either communicating or concentrating on the road ahead but you can't do both effectively at the same time.

Taking your eyes off the road ahead ―In the previous chapter, you learned about stopping distances and how long it takes your car to stop at various speeds. Those stopping distances depend on ideal conditions; a well built dry road, clear weather, and a driver who is concentrating on the road ahead. Studies have shown that users of hand-held communication devices have reaction times, in many cases, worse than a drunk driver. Your car is traveling over long distances in a very short amount of time. Taking your eyes off the road for even a second or two to look up a number or to read a text can keep you from seeing an emergency situation ahead and reacting correctly to avoid it.

Hands-free communication devices such as Bluetooth headsets don't provide any more safety; remember, it's not where your hands are but where your mind is that is critical to observing the road ahead.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration;

Research on distracted driving reveals some surprising facts:

  • 20 percent of injury crashes in 2009 involved reports of distracted driving. (NHTSA).
  • Of those killed in distracted-driving-related crashed, 995 involved reports of a cell phone as a distraction (18% of fatalities in distraction-related crashes). (NHTSA)
  • In 2009, 5,474 people were killed in U.S. roadways and an estimated additional 448,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes that were reported to have involved distracted driving. (FARS and GES)
  • The age group with the greatest proportion of distracted drivers was the under-20 age group - 16 percent of all drivers younger than 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported to have been distracted while driving. (NHTSA)
  • Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. (Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)
  • Using a cell phone use while driving, whether it's hand-held or hands-free, delays a driver's reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent. (Source: University of Utah

(Distraction.Gov: http://www.distraction.gov/stats-and-facts/)

VEHICLE EMERGENCIES

Here are some emergencies that you may encounter when driving:

MECHANICAL BREAKDOWNS

If possible, move your vehicle out of the traffic lane and park where the disabled vehicle can be seen for at least 200 feet in each direction. Turn on your emergency flashers, raise the hood, stay away from traffic lanes, and keep your passengers away from traffic lanes as well. If you use emergency flares, keep them at least 500 feet away from your vehicle.


THE GAS PEDAL STICKS
  • Shift into neutral, then apply the brakes.
  • Find a way out of traffic; warn others by flashing your lights.
  • Pull off the highway (if possible).
  • Turn off your ignition.

BRAKE FAILURE
  • Pump the brake pedal hard and fast.
  • Shift to a lower gear.
  • Apply the parking brake slowly, so you don't skid.
  • Rub your tires against the curb to slow your vehicle, or pull off the road into an open space.

WET BRAKES
  • Test your brakes lightly any time you've driven through deep water.
  • Brakes may pull to one side or may not hold at all.
  • Dry your brakes by driving slowly in low gear and applying your brakes gently.

TIRE BLOW-OUT

  • Grip the steering wheel firmly.
  • Ease off the gas pedal to slow down.
  • Do not use your brakes.
  • Look for a safe place to pull over.
  • When you feel your vehicle is under control again, gently start braking.

HOOD FLIES UP WHILE DRIVING
  • Slow down.
  • Find a way to keep your eyes on the road.
  • Look through the crack between the hood and the body of the car.
  • Look out the side window.
  • Pull over as soon as possible.

POWER STEERING FAILURE
  • Slow down.
  • Grip the steering wheel firmly, applying more pressure than usual.
  • Find a safe path through traffic, change lanes and move as far off the roadway as possible.
  • Power steering failure can be caused by a stalling engine, a low level of power steering fluid, a broken steering drive belt or a defective pump.

RIGHT WHEELS GO OFF THE SHOULDER OF THE ROAD
  • Take your foot off the gas pedal.
  • Hold the wheel firmly and maintain a straight line.
  • Brake lightly.
  • Turn back onto the pavement sharply at low speed.

CAR OR MOTORCYCLE APPROACHING IN YOUR LANE
  • Sound your horn.
  • Brake sharply.
  • Steer for the side of the road, a ditch or the next lane.

FIRE
  • If the fire is small and you have a portable extinguisher, attempt to extinguish the fire.
  • If you cannot extinguish the fire and it continues to get larger, get away from the vehicle. There may be toxic fumes and the possibility of an explosion.
  • Never apply water to a gasoline or diesel fire.

REMEMBER: YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT POTENTIAL ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARD OR VEHICLE EMERGENCY YOU WILL ENCOUNTER WHEN DRIVING

BE PREPARED.





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