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.

Driving with Diligence

Collision Prevention

hands on steering wheelsRoad safety starts with you, the driver. Here are a few defensive driving pointers to help you stay safe and sound while on the go.

Scan the road ahead looking for possible hazards so you have time to react to them. Also, regularly check your mirrors so you know at all times what potential obstacles surround your vehicle.  If your view is blocked by a hill or a curve proceed with caution.

Keep a space cushion of 3-seconds between you and the vehicle you are following. Sometimes you may need to add additional space, such as when following large trucks or motorcycles, and when the weather and/or road conditions are less than ideal. Also, keep a space cushion to the side and rear of your vehicle so that you have room to maneuver should an obstacle present itself.

Follow the basic speed law; don’t drive faster than the conditions of the road and weather allow. This may mean you need to drive slower than the posted speed limit. You must decide what the safest speed is under the current conditions.

Being a responsible driver includes being fully aware of all traffic laws, right-of-way rules, and street signs.  Many drivers make poor driving decisions because they don’t know the law.

Avoid distractions. A distraction can be anything that takes your mind off of the task of driving, whether it’s a cell phone, the radio, passengers, even food. Driving has to be the number one priority every time you are behind the wheel.

Last, but not least, don’t drive under the influence, whether it is alcohol or prescription drugs from your doctor. Even a small amount of drugs or alcohol can affect depth perception, speed perception, coordination, reaction time and vision, all of which are essential to driving.

Taking some of the ‘ick’ out of Ticket

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

Today’s Three Seconds: Traffic Ticket Control

Speeding Ticket3 Second StopTraffic Tickets: You dread them. There’s the humiliation of being pulled over, the steep ticket fine, your tarnished driving record, and increased car insurance rates. Fortunately, most states will allow you to take a Defensive Driving or Traffic School class to ‘hide’ your citation from the public and your insurance company, saving your insurance rates from skyrocketing. Not necessarily a reason to celebrate, but fixing your ticket will no doubt alleviate some of the financial burden of getting pulled over.