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Home - Benefits - Conditions - Errors - Behaviors

The six most common driver errors that may cause a crash or result in a collision.

Excessive speed - 2/3rds of all drivers report they occasionally exceed what they consider to be the maximum safe speed on the road they regularly travel.

"Many drivers believe that traffic laws are guidelines, especially speed limits."

Even 5 miles over the posted speed is an unsafe or excessive speed under certain driving conditions. The posted speed limit is the safest maximum speed.

Legal descriptions for excessive speed:

Greater than the posted speed limit.
Over maximum operating speed of the vehicle: for example, towing something, using an undersized spare tire.
Driving too fast for existing conditions
Speeding has been cited as a contributing factor in nearly one-third of all fatal crashes.

The following is examples of time saved on a 10- mile trip.

At 55 miles per hour the act ural time would be 10 minutes 54 seconds. - Time saved: 1 minute and 6 seconds. - Risk of death: 1.5 times higher than at 50 miles per hour.

At 65 miles per hour, the actual time would be approximately 9 minutes and 14 seconds. - Time saved: 2 minutes 46 seconds - Increased risk of death: 3 times higher.

At 75 miles per hour, the actual time would be 8 minutes. - Time saved: 4 minutes - Increased risk of death: 6 times higher.

Here are some reasons why we think drivers choose to speed. In a recent survey drivers stated they were:

Late or behind schedule
Trying to keep up with traffic
Good driving conditions
Having an emergency

You need to ask yourself if these are acceptable reasons based on what you now know about speed and the increased risk of death in the event of a crash.

You need to ask yourself "is getting what I want or where I'm going so important that I am willing to risk my life...or other people's lives?"

"Am I willing to be involved in a crash or get a ticket just to get to work in record time, just to get ahead of someone else or just to have some fun?"

To reduce incidents of speeding crashes and violations, drivers:

Need to make a conscious choice not to speed; check their speedometer often.
Need to become aware of personal reasons for speeding: for example, habit, poor time management resulting in being late.
Need to know the risks and hazards to themselves as well as others on the road.

Right-of-way errors/violations - Here are some examples of right-of-way driver errors you may see.

Vehicle running red lights.
Vehicles turning into the wrong lane or turning too wide.
Gridlock (vehicles blocking intersections)
Pedestrians crossing against the light or with the light when making a right turn
Bicycles, motorcycles, in the blind zones.
Going around railroad crossing gates.
Failing to yield.

"At an intersection, who has the right-of-way?" Well in our state the rules of the road book says the person on the right as the right of way when vehicles arrive at an intersection at the same time. But the traffic laws never give anyone the right-of-way. Laws only provide who shall yield the right-of-way.

Defensive driving strategies to use to avoid intersection crashes and violations:

40% of all traffic crashes occur at intersections.

Delayed acceleration technique - When stopped at an intersection, drivers will be in one to two situations: either we are the fri st car or there will be other cars ahead of us.

When the light turns green, as the first car, we should delay acceleration by two seconds. Scan the road. General scanning pattern includes the following:

Look left.
Look right.
Look ahead.
Look left again.
Do not let up on the brake. The driver behind may see this as your intention to move and hit you.
Go through the intersection when it is safe and clear to do so.

If there are other vehicles ahead of us, stop at a point where you can see the back tires of the vehicle ahead touching the pavement. This practice enables drivers to:

Avoid a rear-end collision with the vehicle ahead if hit from behind.
Pull out around them in case of a stall.
Avoid being trapped in a carjacking situation.

When the traffic light turns green, look at the tires of the vehicle ahead. As the vehicle begins to move, count two seconds before accelerating.

Regardless of the color of the traffic light, do not block an intersection.

Rule of thirds - Visually divide the block into three equal sections:

In the first third of the block, accelerate to a safe and legal speed.
In the second third of the block, maintain speed, signal and get into the appropriate lane if turning.
In the last third of the block, cover the brake with your right foot. Scan left ahead, right, ahead and left again.
Proceed through the intersection only when you are sure it is safe and clear to do so.

When approaching any type of intersection regulated or unregulated, always scan the intersecting roads and cover the brake.

Railroad crossings are also intersections. Use these safety procedures:

Expect a train at any time.
Never drive around lowered gate.
Never stop on tracks.
Watch for the second train on double or triple tracks.

Do not rely on warning signals to tell of an approaching train; stop, look and listen.

Improper turning - Check your blind spot before turning, and keep your vehicle closer to the curb when tuning right.
Before turning, check your right blind spot for anything or anyone: pedestrians, joggers, in-line skaters.

In addition, when parking on a street, prior to opening the door of your vehicle or driving out of the parking space, check your left side blind spot for pedestrians, joggers, and bicyclists.

Importance of using directional signals as a courtesy to other drivers as well as a defensive driver action and its the law. Not using directional signals is one of the driver actions that provoke aggressive driving behavior.

Safe turning tips - Left turns:

Signal the turn.
Move into the appropriate turn lane.
If we need to wait for oncoming traffic to pass, keep wheels pointed straight. This practice prevents:
a head-on collision in the event we are rear-ended while waiting to turn.
Yield to oncoming traffic.
Turn into the correct lane.

If you cannot see the approaching traffic or are unsure of their speed, don't take chances; wait.

Right turns:

Signal the turn.
Keep your vehicle close to the curb.
Turn into the correct lane.

Pay attention to your lane position. The driver behind may be turning with you in your blind spot. If you switch lanes after the turn, you may sideswipe them. Before changing lanes after a turn, always check your blind spot.

Driving left of center - Here are some reasons that might cause drivers to drive left of center, or pass/overtake in an unsafe manner.

In a hurry.
Inattention to driving.
Risk taking.
Loss of control of the vehicle
Driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.
Trying to avoid a pedestrian, animal, pothole, object on road.
Excessive speed in a curve or turn.
Obscured center line
Incorrect evasive maneuvers, backing out into a street.

Improper overtaking - Type of crashes involved in which could result from driving left of center, improper overtaking and unsafe passing.

Run off the road

Safe Passing - These types of crashes are preventable if we know how to pass safely and avoid a head-on crash with appropriate evasive maneuvers.

Sometimes passing is not really necessary.

If you are tailgating. If you use a safe following distance, you may find it is not necessary to pass.
If you are close to your destination, why pass?
If you are already traveling the speed limit.

The most important defenses to pass safely.

Use a safe following distance.
Check blind spots.
Use the directional signal.
Check traffic ahead and behind.
Keep a safe space around your vehicle.
Don't drive next to the vehicle you are passing for long. Get out of a possible sideswipe crash zone.
Maintain your speed after passing.

Head-on crashes are the most fatal type of collision. To avoid a head-on collision, the best allies drivers have are time and space: time to get out of the way and space to avoid the collision. Here are some mistakes drivers frequently make when facing a head-on collision.
Driving left.
Collision in the passing lane if driver recovers.
Stopping immediately.
Could result in a rear-end collision with the vehicle behind, which could push you into the oncoming vehicle faster.
Skidding onto the shoulder.
Could result in a loss of control of your vehicle, resulting in a rollover.

Split-second decisions. These maneuvers should only be used if a head-on collision appears imminent.

Drive right, not left.
Away from the oncoming driver, not left into their lane.
Drive, don't skid.
Steer off onto the shoulder, For non-ABS brakes; use the brakes gently. With ABS, hold the pedal down firmly. Don't swerve or skid.
Hit something soft, not hard.
If we drive off the road and have to choose between hitting something soft, such as bushes or shrubbery or something hard, such as a tree, choose the softer, more flexible object.
Hit with a glancing blow.
Whatever we have to hit--shrubs, a tree, even the oncoming vehicle--we need to hit at an angle or a glancing blow.
Every inch off center we hit reduces the impact of the crash and increases our chance for survival.

Following too close or tailgating - Tailgating is another unsafe driver behavior that provokes aggressive driving behavior and a common cause of collisions. Minimum safe following distance is 3 seconds.

Tailgating, excessive lane changing, and improper merging cause the "accordion" effect (stop and go) in heavy traffic.

Defensive driving includes maintaining a safe space around your vehicle. This means using a safe following distance.

Do not drive in other drivers' blind spots.
If the vehicle swerved, you would be hit riding in the blind spot.
Keep the safe space in front, back and to the sides of your vehicle.
Do not drive in other drivers' blind spots.
If the vehicle swerved, you would be hit riding in the blind spot.
Keep the safe space in front, back and to the sides of your vehicle.

Hazardous conditions and speed influence following distance.

For every hazardous condition, we need to add one second of following distance.
For speeds in excess of 65 miles per hour, we need to add a minimum of one additional second for the hazard of higher speeds, which includes increased stopping distance.

Higher the speed, the higher the risks of being involved in a crash because of the increase in distance required to stop the vehicle. At 55 miles per hour in good driving conditions, it takes a passenger vehicle about 284 feet to come to a complete stop.

Stopping distances of larger vehicles:

18-wheelers traveling at 55 miles per hour require a minimum of 395 feet to stop, in perfect driving conditions.

Remember anti-lock brakes do not help a vehicle stop faster. Anti-lock brakes are designed to help keep the vehicle from skidding or swerving out of control. You still need to use a minimum 3-second following distance.