Its been raining. As you drive through a patch of puddles, your steering wheel
doesnt respond. Your car is hydroplaning, a condition in which your tires begin to
ride up on a film of water and lose contact with the road.
To avoid losing control of
||Ease your foot off the accelerator. This will slow down your vehicle and help you to
maintain steering control.
||Avoid turning sharply or sudden, hard braking, which may force your car into a skid.
Before you drive:
Remember that mixing high speeds, worn (or underinflated) tires, and lots of water is the
perfect recipe for hydroplaning. Check your tires today. But even with good treads,
hydroplaning may occur when water is deeper than the tread depth.
Youre travelling down a road that is dotted with snow and patches of ice, on a
blustery winter night. Suddenly the car in front of you begins to fishtail and lose
Drivers with anti-lock brakes should:
||Apply brakes fully, maintain pressure, and attempt to steer around the car. By
applying brakes fully you will activate the anti-lock braking system, which modulates the
brakes for you. This will slow down your vehicle and allow you to maintain steering
control. Dont pump the brakes. Pumping anti-lock brakes reduces their effectiveness.
Drivers without anti-lock brakes should:
||Apply brakes firmly but short of wheel lockup. Try to keep the heel of your foot on
the floor, and use the upper part of your foot to apply a firm and steady pressure on the
brake pedal to avoid wheel lockup.
No matter what kind of brakes you have, always leave enough room between you and the car
in front of you. And always reduce speed in adverse weather and poor road conditions.
You are travelling at highway speed in the left lane of the expressway. Traffic is heavy.
There is no shoulder on the left, and the highway is separated merely by a guardrail.
Suddenly the car to your right makes a lane change into your lane, striking your car and
forcing you into the guardrail.
To minimize damage to your car and your risk of serious
||Do not slam on your brakes. Maintain a firm grip on the steering wheel, and apply
brakes firmly but not to a point of lockup. Then gradually steer away from the guardrail
and come to a stop once traffic behind you has reacted to your predicament.
Once you have regained control, bring the car to a stop next to the guardrail. Do not
attempt to cross lanes of heavy traffic.
|4. Sharing the
Road with Trucks
No one wants to meet a truck by accident. But get closer than 200 feet behind a truck, and
you may be saying hello to a truckers blind spot.
When following a truck:
||Make sure you are far enough behind the truck so the driver can see you in the side
mirrors. If you cant see the trucks mirrors, chances are the driver cant
see you. Following a truck too closely also impairs your own vision of the road ahead.
To pass a truck:
||First check for a "no passing zone" marking or sign. Check your mirrors, and
signal your intention to move when it is safe to do so.
||Complete your pass as quickly as possible. Signal your intention to move back in front
of the truck in your rearview mirror.
On a level highway, it takes 3 to 5 seconds longer to pass a truck than a car.
You are travelling down a highway at 2:30 in the morning at the speed limit. In your
rearview mirror you see a vehicle approaching. You notice the vehicle is swerving slightly
and alternately speeding up and slowing down. You assume the driver is under the influence
of alcohol. What is the best method to avoid the drunk driver?
To avoid the drunk
||Signal, then make a right turn onto another roadway or driveway. If you are on a long
stretch of open highway, continue on until you can turn off and let the other car pull
ahead. If you merely move onto the shoulder, you could risk being hit because drunk
drivers have a tendency to focus on taillights.
||As the car passes, try to get a license plate number and a description of the vehicle.
Then notify the police.
Remember: If you plan to drink alcoholic beverages, make arrangements in advance for a
non-drinking "designated driver" or take a taxi.
|6. Child Safety
Child safety seats are required by law in all 50 states for good reason. Motor vehicle
accidents are the number-one killer of children under the age of 5 in the United States.
help ensure your childs safety:
||Choose -- and use -- the proper type of safety seat for your child. There are
rear-facing seats for infants, convertible seats for infants and toddlers, and booster
seats for older children who arent quite big enough to use a safety belt. A word of
caution: For cars with a passenger-side air bag, a rear-facing safety seat must never be
placed in the front seat. It should always be in the back seat. Check your owners
manual for complete details on how to secure the child safety seat in your vehicle.
Before you drive:
Make sure you follow the manufacturers instructions for installation and that
youre using the child safety seat properly.
Youre travelling along in the left lane of a four-lane, undivided city street in
bumper-to-bumper traffic. As you slowly creep along, you hear a siren. A check of your
rearview mirror reveals a quickly approaching fire engine. Traffic has completely blocked
the right-hand lane.
To help the emergency vehicle get to its destination:
||Stay where you are if traffic is too blocked to move into the right lane. Do not move
to your left and into oncoming traffic lanes. You risk a head-on collision and could also
interfere with the path of the emergency vehicle.
Emergency vehicles have the right to move into oncoming lanes to circumvent traffic.
Remember: Emergency vehicles have sirens and lights to warn motorists out of their path:
you do not!
|8. Following Too
Youre travelling down a busy two-lane street. There is a car in front of you, and
traffic is heavy in the oncoming lane. As you approach an intersection, an oncoming car
suddenly makes an unsignaled left-hand turn in front of the car ahead of you. The car in
front of you slams on the brakes. You hit your brakes hard, but it is too late. Your car
rams into the back of the vehicle you were following. What could you have done to avoid
To avoid such a crash:
||Allow plenty of distance between your vehicle and the one ahead. Space allows you time
to stop safely if the other driver suddenly brakes. A good rule of thumb: With good
visibility, dry pavement, and a safe alternate path of travel, allow at least a two-second
interval between your car and the one ahead of you. Better yet, allow three seconds.
You can measure your following distance in this manner:
A. Pick out something up ahead, such as a light post.
B. When the rear of the vehicle ahead of you passes that point, begin to count "One
thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three..."
C. If the front of your vehicle reaches the light post before "one thousand
three," youre following too closely.
As you drive down a country road, you see a sign indicating there are railroad tracks
ahead. There are no gates down or flashing red warning lights to indicate a train is
To proceed safely:
||Stop, look, listen -- and live. Less than one-third of all public highway rail grade
crossings have flashing lights or gates to warn motorists a train is approaching. At all
crossings, its your responsibility to slow down or stop if necessary. A train always
has the right-of-way since it might take a train a mile and a half to stop.
Never try to beat a train across tracks or go around lowered warning gates. Its
difficult to judge a trains speed accurately.
Travelling down a busy street, you notice the traffic light at a mildly busy intersection
isnt working. You approach the intersection at the same time as a car on your right
from the intersecting street.
To get through the intersection safely:
||Treat the intersection as if it were a four-way stop. Yield the right-of-way to the
car on the right on the intersecting street.
When in doubt at an intersection, remember the right-hand rule, which says the car to your
right has the right-of-way.
|11. Flash Flood
Youre driving in a light rain, when the skies suddenly darken and the light rain
turns into a torrential downpour. You notice the water on the roadway is getting deeper by
the second. In an instant, you notice there is water rising around the car.
course of action:
||Pull over slowly and stop. Never try to drive through pools of water on the road. They
may be deeper than they appear.
If the water is rising, get out of the car and seek higher ground. Most cars will float
for a short period, but they can quickly and easily be swept away by rising flood waters
-- with you trapped inside.
All too often motorists arent aware of the motorcycles on the highway. In fact,
failure to detect and recognize motorcycles in traffic is the main cause of motorcycle
accidents with other vehicles.
If you ride a motorcycle:
||Always keep your headlights on -- even during the day. It will help make you more
visible. Twenty-two states require motorcyclists to operate their cycles with their
headlights on during the day.
If you drive a car:
||Remember to share the road. Keep a lookout for motorcycles. A motorcycles small
size makes it more difficult to spot in traffic, so motorists must aggressively and
consciously look for motorcycles in changing traffic conditions.
If youre behind a motorcycle, follow at the same interval that you would for a car
-- at least two seconds, better yet, three seconds on dry pavement.
Bad weather, mechanical failure of a vehicle, and poorly maintained roadways -- all may
contribute to collisions. But do you know the number-one cause of auto collisions?
||More collisions can be attributed to driver error than any other factor. Driver error
includes many factors, such as improper lookout, excessive speed, improper evasive action,
internal distractions, and driver inattention or distraction. The tragedy is that nearly
all collisions caused by driver error could have been prevented.
To keep driver error at a minimum:
||Avoid taking your eyes off the road to adjust your radio or air-conditioning/heating,
or to talk to passengers.
||Pull onto the shoulder if you need to check a road map.
||Remain at a safe distance from the car in front of you, and allow plenty of room for
|14. Air Bags
Air bags supplement safety belts and are designed to inflate in moderate and severe
frontal or near frontal collisions. When used in combination with safety belts, air bags
further reduce the risk of fatality in frontal or near frontal crashes.
Air bags do not
||You are rear-ended by another car, or hit in the side.
||You misjudge your stopping distance and run into a stopped car at up to 10 to 15 mph.
Remember that its crucial to always wear a safety belt, even if your car is equipped
with an air bag. Safety belts provide the maximum protection in all types of crashes, not
just head-on crashes. All states have laws requiring the use of child restraints.
Forty-two states and the District of Columbia have laws to "Buckle Up."
|15. School Bus
Travelling on a four-lane undivided road, you see a school bus approaching from the
opposite direction. As you get a bit closer, you notice it is stopped and its red lights
To obey the law and make sure that school children remain safe:
||Come to a stop and wait to move until the lights stop flashing or the bus is moving.
On an undivided highway this is true no matter what side of the road the bus is on.
Remember: There may be children you cant see getting off the bus and walking around
the blind side of the bus.
If you are on a divided road, you still must stop if the bus is on your side of the road.
Its not necessary to stop if the school bus is across the median in the opposite
lanes. However, you should still be careful because there are children around.
Youre pulling out of a business driveway and want to make a left turn onto a busy
street. The road has a special center lane designed for making turns.
||After the traffic clears in the lanes nearest you, enter the center lane -- and wait
for traffic to clear in the far lane. Once you are in the center lane, turn on your right
-- hand turn signal.
||Do not drive in the "shared left-turn lane." It is neither legal nor safe.
As you merge, watch out for vehicles entering the special turning lane in front of you as
well as behind you.
|17. Using Your
Always use your turn signal when changing lanes -- even if youre in the RIGHT TURN
ONLY lane and you think it should be obvious that your intention is to turn.
use your signal every time you change lanes:
||Your intentions will be clear to everyone. This includes pedestrians as well as
||Youll keep the law on your side. Failing to signal is a ticketable offense.
Most states require the driver to signal at least 100 feet prior to any change in
onto the Right Shoulder
As you travel down a two-lane highway in the country, your right wheels drop off onto the
unpaved shoulder of the road.
To correct this situation:
||If the level of the shoulder is only slightly below the pavement, recovery is fairly
easy. Hold the steering wheel firmly and ease off the accelerator. If there is nothing in
the way, steer so that your vehicle straddles the edge of the pavement.
||Do not turn the steering wheel sharply. You can turn the steering wheel up to a
one-quarter turn until the front tire is back on the pavement. Then continue straight down
If your tires scrub against the side of the pavement, do not steer more sharply. Instead,
ease off the accelerator, holding the steering wheel firmly, and straddle the pavement
once more. Then repeat the procedure as stated before.
Children playing, cars pulling away from the curb, cross-street traffic, someone getting
out of a parked car, animals at the side of the road -- each of these everyday events can
spell disaster for the driver who fails to look well beyond the immediate field of vision.
To get the "big picture" on the roadway:
||Scan the road ahead from shoulder to shoulder. Get the big picture. Search the road --
and roadside -- at least 12 seconds ahead. Think of this as your "visual lead
time," which will allow you time and space to make decisions and control your
At higher speeds, its especially important to get the big picture. As speed
increases, your eyes focus more on whats directly in front of you and less on what
is to your sides.
Youre driving down a two-lane highway at 55 mph. In the distance, you see a car
approaching in your lane at a high rate of speed. You frantically honk your horn, but the
car continues to move toward you in your lane. You think the driver might be asleep or
To avoid a head-on collision:
||Move to the right. If you move to the left, the head-on collision you were hoping to
avoid may still happen. If the oncoming driver recovers, he may instinctively swerve back
into his proper lane.
||Reduce your speed and wait as long as you can to pull out of your lane. Pull as far to
the right as possible; if need be, drive completely off the road.
Driving off the road isnt without risk: There is a possibility you may be injured.
However, its almost always better than a head-on collision. If you have to hit
something, aim for something relatively soft, such as shrubbery.