Allowing yourself proper following distance between your car and the car ahead of you can be difficult to visually estimate. A good way to gauge a suitable gap is to use the “Three-Second Rule.” Here’s how it works: when the car or truck in front of you crosses a certain fixed object on the side of the road (like a sign or tree), start counting, “one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three.” You should not cross that same point for three seconds. Under normal conditions it takes about 2-3 seconds to completely stop when traveling at speeds between 35 mph to 65 mph; so with a three-second space cushion, you should have enough time to react and brake when something happens up ahead.
Sometimes you may need to add additional space to the following distance calculation. Here are some scenarios where extra room is required and you should allow for a following distance of four or more seconds:
- If the road or weather conditions are bad. For example, braking distance doubles on a wet road.
- If you are being tailgated. If a driver is following too closely you should slow down and increase your following distance so that you will have more time to react if the car in front of you is forced to suddenly stop.
- If you are towing a trailer or have additional weight in your vehicle. The added weight will increase your vehicle’s stopping distance.
- If you are following a motorcycle. A motorcycle can stop quicker than a car. Give yourself extra space in front of your vehicle so you have adequate time to stop.
- If your vision is blocked or visibility is poor. When your view ahead is blocked, for instance when you are behind an 18-wheeler or large van, you will have less of an idea of hazards further down the road. Leave yourself more space to increase your reaction time.
How Do You Rate?
Seat belt use in the United States has been steadily rising since 2000. There has also been a consistent decrease in unrestrained passenger vehicle occupant fatalities in the daytime.
The overall National average seat-belt use in 2015 was 88.5%. The Western States have the highest average with 95.0% and the Midwest has a ways to go coming in at 81.7%.
As you can image, States that have Primary Seat Belt laws (an officer can ticket you for the sole reason you are not wearing a seat-belt) have a higher rate of seat belt use as compared to States that have secondary enforcement laws (requires an officer to pull you over for another reason before you can receive a citation for not using your seat belt.)
Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Report No. DOT HS 812 243
As a young driver, I was under the false impression that you could “whip a U-turn” whenever or wherever you wanted, as long as it seemed reasonably safe. Wrong. I found out the hard way when making a U-turn on a sharply-curved road. A cop pulled me over 5 seconds later and gave me a $225 education that I will never forget. The lesson learned? LEARN THE RULES OF THE ROAD!
Click the image above to test your knowledge!
Next time you ‘need’ to make a U-turn, remember these helpful hints:
DO make U-turns here:
- Anywhere on residential streets where you have a clear view for 200ft in both directions
- On city streets (business districts), always go to an intersection to make your U-turn
DON’T make U-turn here:
- In the middle of a city street
- On any street that you can’t see clearly for 200ft in both directions
- At an intersection with a “No U-turn” sign
- In front of fire stations
April 11-15, 2016: Respect the Orange
The week of April 11-15, 2016, the Federal Highway Administration encourages, “Don’t Be THAT Driver!” This year’s National Work Zone Awareness theme focuses on a current road safety topic: distracted driving. Construction zones are dangerous enough without mixing in the added hazard of driving distractions. With so much confusion going on in a work zone, taking your eyes off the road, hands off the wheel and/or mind off of driving, even for a second, can lead to an unfortunate crash. Besides being aware of in-vehicle distractions also avoid the temptation to try and see what the road workers are doing. Remember to slow down to a safe speed, drive more cautiously and focus on the task at hand.
No time to read a long-winded BLOnG? Welcome to the Three-Second-Stop mini-Blog.
Today’s Three Seconds: Prescription Drugs
Long story short, drugs can affect your driving whether they are prescription, over-the-counter or otherwise. Some side effects can affect depth perception, speed perception, coordination, reaction time and vision, all of which are critical to driving. Go over your medications with your doctor and/or pharmacist and be sure to read the warning labels to find out how your medications will affect your driving.
Traffic Control Signals
Traffic lights help drivers navigate roadways in an orderly fashion. However, sometimes lights depart from the standard procedure and might leave you wondering what to do.
If you see a Flashing Red signal light, treat it like a STOP sign. Stop completely and proceed when it is safe to do so. Don’t forget to follow the right-of-way rules.
If you see a Flashing Yellow signal light, treat it like a YIELD sign. Slow down and be prepared to stop for cross traffic.
No time to read a long-winded BLOnG? Welcome to the Three-Second-Stop mini-Blog.
Today’s Three Seconds: Fog
If there is dense fog, it is best not to drive at all, but if you must, please remember:
If you are having a hard time seeing the road and vehicles, other drivers are having a hard time seeing you as well. Turn on your low beam headlights to increase your visibility; your high beams can easily reflect in foggy conditions and impair your visibility further.
Slow down and watch your speedometer; fog can create a visual illusion of slow motion when you may actually be going much faster.
Use the right edge of the road or painted road markings as a guide.
Also, it is a good idea to drive with the driver-side window rolled down a little. If there is going to be a problem, such as a car crash up the road, you might be able to hear it long before you can see it.
If visibility is so bad that you cannot see the road ahead, pull as far off the road as possible and turn on your emergency flashers.
A new study by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, Measuring Cognitive Distraction in the Automobile III: A Comparison of Ten 2015 In-Vehicle Information Systems (October 2015), examined the effect of several different In-Vehicle Information Systems on mental performance while driving. Participants of the study were asked to complete voice initiated tasks such as dialing a phone number, placing a call to a contact or making a song selection.
One finding to note, it took up to 27 seconds for the driver to return their full attention back to driving after completing a task. The driver’s hands were on the wheel and eyes were on the road, but for 27 seconds their mind was not on driving. Driving needs your complete attention and involves continuous and complex coordination between your mind and body.
The study also revealed that practice does not may perfect. Participants kept a vehicle for five days to familiarize themselves with the technology. Even after a week of practice, activities required about the same amount of mental concentration as when it was first attempted.
No matter what potential distractions await you while on the road, it is up to you, the driver, to always focus on your driving.
The Penny Test
Tire tread is important. Worn tires can’t grip the road properly leading to slips and skids. Fortunately, there’s an easy way to check your tire tread depth and all you need is a penny!
Here’s what you do: Place a penny into a tread groove on your tires with Lincoln’s head pointed down. A newer penny where Lincoln’s head isn’t worn will work best. If part of his head is covered by the tire tread, you’re good to go. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, then it’s time to replace the tire. Repeat the test in multiple grooves and on each tire to check for uneven wear.
So there you have it, a simple way to keep an eye on the health of your tires.
Used Motor Oil Recycling
Did you know motor oil doesn’t wear out? It just gets dirty. Which means it can be recycled and reused in several ways. All over the U.S. there are used oil collection locations available. These organizations allow the average Joe to dispose of old motor oil, which in turn keeps that oil out of our ground water and waterways. Next time you change the oil in your car, or even your lawnmower, collect the dingy oil in a metal or plastic container to be recycled. These collection centers should also accept old oil filters and bottles. To find a collection center near you, visit http://search.earth911.com/american-petroleum-institute.php.
Another quick tip to keep oil out of our water is don’t try to hose down spilled oil. Rather use absorbent towels to wipe up the mess.