Night Driving

No time to read a long-winded BLOnG? Welcome to the Three-Second-Stop mini-Blog.

Today’s Three Seconds: Overdriving Your Headlights

3 Second StopOver half of motor vehicle crashes happen when it is dark out. For this reason we should remind ourselves to be even more aware of our surroundings at night.  An issue to avoid when driving at night is overdriving your headlights. Overdriving your headlights occurs when you cannot stop within the space lighted by your headlights, or in other words, by the time you can see a hazard ahead, you don’t have enough time to stop or respond safely. Instead you should drive at a slow enough speed so that your vision in your headlights is greater or equal to your stopping distance.

Defensive Driving Tip

No time to read a long-winded BLOnG? Welcome to the Three-Second-Stop mini-Blog.

Today’s Three Seconds: IPDE Technique

3 Second StopAn essential part of defensive driving is being alert and attentive to your driving environment. At all times when driving, you must be aware of what is happening all around your vehicle, continuously scanning and searching for potential problems that may lead to a collision.

The “IPDE” technique is a four-step system used by drivers to anticipate and avoid collisions. IPDE stands for Identify, Predict, Decide, Execute and simply means:

1. Identify the potential problem.
2. Predict how the potential problem will affect you.
3. Decide what things you can do to avoid the potential problem.
4. Execute the maneuver that best avoids the potential problem.

Driver Inattention

Distracted Driving Awareness Month

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month which reminds motorist that anything that takes your attention away from driving is a distraction and can lead to a traffic collision.   The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that 10% of fatal crashes, 15% of injury crashes, and 14% of all police-reported motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2015 had a driver who was distracted at the time of the crash.

There are three kinds of distractions and they include anything that takes your:

  • Eyes off the road (visual).
  • Mind off the driving (cognitive).
  • Hands off the steering wheel (manual).


Activities like interacting with cell phones, passengers, and radio controls, as well as, grooming, eating and smoking can impair your driving abilities.  Driving safely involves being alert and aware of what is happening in your driving environment.   So next time you’re in the driver’s seat, keep your mind on driving and getting to your destination safely.

The Eyes Have It

Scanning the Road

Sometimes we take driving for granted. With each uneventful drive we make, we begin to let our guard down. We start picking up bad habits like zoning out and staring at the bumper of the car in front of us. The problem with this is driving is always potentially dangerous and a routine drive can change in the blink of an eye.

A big part to driving defensively is using your eyes. A defensive driver actively scans the road ahead, checks to the left and right and glances in their mirrors regularly. Continuous eye movement will increase your awareness and give you more time to react in a hazardous situation. In addition to watching around your car, it is also good to look farther down the road. By spotting problems early, you will have time to make necessary adjustments in advance to avoid them.

Get the Word Out

Communication on the Road

Communication with other drivers on the road is very important. Using standard equipment on your car, like turn signals, brake lights, hazard lights, headlights, and your horn, are all simple yet effective ways of telling everyone else what you intend to do next. Communication on the road can also be characterized by conveying your intentions to others through eye contact, body language, and hand signals, while simultaneously picking up on cues from other drivers and pedestrians.

Non-verbal interaction with other road users can help make the roadways much safer. For instance, you may notice another driver continuously looking over their shoulder. This is usually a good indication that they want to change lanes, and you can help by giving them the space they need.   Or perhaps you have stopped at an intersection and a pedestrian is at the street corner. Making eye contact and a simple nod of your head is often enough to tell the pedestrian, “I see you are going to cross the street.”

Handling Dangerous Situations

No time to read a long-winded BLOnG? Welcome to the Three-Second-Stop mini-Blog.

Today’s Three Seconds: Driving Off of the Pavement

3 Second StopIf you ever find yourself in a situation where your wheels go off the pavement onto a soft shoulder, remain calm and follow these simple steps:

  • Hold the steering wheel firmly
  • Take your foot off the gas pedal
  • Gently apply your brakes
  • Check for traffic coming behind you
  • When the coast is clear, soothingly steer yourself back onto the road

Avoid slamming on the brakes and swerving back to your lane right away. There is a good chance that you will lose control of your car and end up hitting something or someone on the opposite side of the road.

Following Distance

Three-Second Rule

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.

Signals Crossed

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.

stop
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.

 

 

yield
 

If you see a Flashing Yellow signal light, treat it like a YIELD sign. Slow down and be prepared to stop for cross traffic.

What’s Going on Back There?

Taking in the Big Picture

A big part of defensive driving is scanning the road. Not just looking for hazards ahead of you, but also being aware of what is going on to the sides and behind you as well. When scanning, your eyes are continuously moving from side to side, ahead and in your rear-view mirrors. Take short quick glances to take in the big picture and be aware of and regulate potentially hazardous situations before you find yourself in a predicament.

First off, you should make sure to properly adjust your seat and mirrors before you start driving. You want to make sure you have as wide a field of vision as possible to the back of your vehicle when looking into the rear-view and side-mirrors.

Second, remember these three instances where checking traffic behind you is of great importance.

  1. Backing: When backing it is best to back up as little as necessary as you are more likely to hit something because your visibility is limited. Before you back up check your mirrors and look over your shoulder as you reverse. Keep your speed as slow and safe as possible.
  2. Changing lanes: Before you begin your lane change, always look over your shoulder after checking your mirrors to confirm that there are no vehicles hiding in your blind spot. This is also good to remember as part of moving over to curbside park or preparing to make a right turn.
  3. Slowing down quickly: Stopping suddenly can put you at high risk of being rear ended by another motorist. Make sure to check your rear-view mirror when forced to brake harder than usual. This is a good reason to have a safe space cushion between you and the vehicle in front of you.

Get in the habit of utilizing your rear and side view mirrors more consistently. The greater your ability to comprehend what is going on around your car, the safer it will be for you to drive.

Safety for Two Wheels

Motorcycle & Bicycle Awareness

May kicks off both Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month & Bicycle Safety Month. With only two wheels, motorcycles and bicycles are less stable and require the rider to have great handling ability. They are much smaller and harder to see than other vehicles on the road. Consequently, motorcycles and bicycles are more easily hidden or missed by other drivers. Also, they don’t have the same protection as an automobile driver, making any type of collision or wipeout serious or fatal.

What you may not know is bicyclists and motorcyclists have the same right to ride on the road as other vehicles. Furthermore, they are subject to the majority of laws that all other drivers are required to follow. As a driver, don’t forget to always check your blind spots every time you change lanes or prepare to make turn. Remember to consider a bicycle lane the same as other traffic lanes. Also, do not try to pass a bicyclist until it is safe to do so allowing ample room between your vehicle and the rider.

As a motorist sharing the road with others, it’s crucial your defensive driving strategies include being aware of other types of vehicles in your driving environment.