1. Starting up at intersection…Look left, right, and left again. Check rear view mirrors.
2. When stopped in traffic…Keep a car length of space between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you. This allows enough space to pull your car around the vehicle ahead if it should stall and gives you an instant cushion if that vehicle should make a turn.
3. Count one, two, three after vehicle ahead begins to move…Follow this step when stopped at an intersection behind another vehicle. Check rear view mirrors.
4. Four to six seconds following time for speeds under 30 mph, six to eight seconds for speeds over 30 mph…This keeps you from getting a fixation on the car ahead and allows time to obtain and hold the proper eye-lead time.
5. Eight to twelve seconds eye-lead time…This is the best way to keep your eyes ahead of your wheels and is the depth at which your eyes should be focused most the time
6. Scan steering wheels…Look and see whether or not cars at the curb are occupied. This is the only time they are a threat. If they are occupied, the driver is probably about to exit from the car or pull out from the curb
7. Stale green lights…The point of decision is an imaginary line that you set up between your vehicle and the crosswalk when you are approaching an intersection with a stale green light. Since you are not sure of the light, you must be sure of the point behind which you will stop if the light should start to change. This helps you get the big picture
8. Eye contact…When you must depend on anyone along the edge of your driving path to stay put until you are past the danger point, it is imperative that you get their attention. The horn and lights are your communication tools when you do not have eye contact. The horn to express a friendly message seems in many instances to be a lost art. Only when you have eye contact can you expect the other person to act in a reasonably predictable manner to avoid a dangerous situation.
9. When pulling from curb…Glance over left shoulder when pulling from curb.
10. Use of mirrors…As a rule of thumb, once every five to eight seconds.
During the heavily traveled holiday season, here is a reminder about driving at a safe following distance and to avoid distracted driving.
Rear-end collisions are the most common accidents between vehicles. They occur when drivers do not have enough time to perceive and react safely to slowing or stopped traffic. Increasing your following distance can help give you time to react when someone brakes in front of you.
The Three-Second Rule
Increasing the distance between you and the car ahead can help give you the time you need to recognize a hazard and respond safely. The National Safety Council recommends a minimum three-second following distance.
Determining the three-second gap is relatively easy. When following a vehicle, pick an overhead road sign, a tree or other roadside marker. Note when the vehicle ahead passes that marker, then see how many seconds it takes (count 1-1,000; 2-1,000; 3-1,000) for you to pass the same spot. If it is not at least three seconds, leave more space and increase your following distance.
Think of following distance in terms of time, not space. With a standard of 2.5 seconds, highway engineers use time, rather than distance, to represent how long it takes a driver to perceive and react to hazards. The National Safety Council also uses this standard (plus a little extra for safety) when recommending the three-second rule for following distance.
Sometimes Three Seconds Is Not Enough
The three-second rule is recommended for passenger vehicles during ideal road and weather conditions. Slow down and increase your following distance even more during adverse weather conditions or when visibility is reduced. Also increase your following distance if you are driving a larger vehicle or towing a trailer.
Distractions, such as texting, reaching for a drink or glancing at a navigation device, also play a role in rear-end collisions. Even if you use the three-second rule, you may not have time to react to a hazard if you are distracted. It is another reason why you should avoid distractions while driving.
Like a scene straight out of a sports car commercial, you’re driving along a winding road in the dead of night, the eerie glow from your headlights meeting the narrow asphalt, when suddenly, two green eyes flash in the darkness ahead – and a deer steps onto the roadway.
Unlike the television ad when the driver swerves wildly around the animal and then speeds off carelessly into the blackness, encountering a deer while you’re on the road can be dangerous and scary. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), large animal-vehicle collisions resulted in an average of 187 fatalities in recent years.
So, what can you do to stay safe through deer country or during seasons when deer are particularly active? Read on to learn the latest statistics and a few tips for making your drive as safe as possible.
- Dawn and dusk are the times you are most likely to encounter deer along the roadside.
- Deer breeding season runs from October through early January, and during this time they are highly active and on the move. This is peak time for deer/vehicle collisions.
- Though deer may wander into suburban neighborhoods, they are most frequently found on the outskirts of town and in heavily wooded areas.
- As pack animals, deer almost never travel alone. If you see one deer, you can bet that there are others nearby.
- The two most important ways to avoid a deer/vehicle collision are: slow down and SLOW DOWN. If you are driving through an area known for high deer populations, slow down and observe the speed limit. The more conservative you are with your speed, the more time you will have to brake if an animal darts into your path.
- Always wear a seat belt. The most severe injuries in deer/vehicle collisions usually result from failure to use a seat belt.
- Watch for the shine of eyes along the roadside and immediately begin to slow.
- Use your high beams whenever the road is free of oncoming traffic. This will increase your visibility and give you more time to react.
- Deer can become mesmerized by steady, bright lights so if you see one frozen on the road, slow down and flash your lights. Some experts recommend one long blast of the horn to scare them out of the road, as well.
- Pay close attention to caution signs indicating deer or other large animals. These signs are specifically placed in high-traffic areas where road crossings are frequent.
- If you’re on a multi-lane road, drive in the center lane to give as much space to grazing deer as possible.
Encountering a Deer
- Never swerve to avoid a deer in the road. Swerving can confuse the deer on where to run. Swerving can also cause a head-on collision with oncoming vehicles, take you off the roadway into a tree or a ditch, and greatly increase the chances of serious injuries.
- Deer are unpredictable creatures, and one that is calmly standing by the side of the road may suddenly leap into the roadway without warning. Slowing down when you spot a deer is the best way to avoid a collision. However, if one does move into your path, maintain control and do your best to brake and give the deer time to get out of your way.
- Don’t rely on hood whistles or other devices designed to scare off deer. These have not been proven to work.
- If you do collide with a deer (or large animal), try to let off the brakes at the moment of impact. Braking through the impact can cause the hood of your vehicle to dip down, which can propel the animal through the windshield.
- Call emergency services if injuries are involved, or the local police if no one is injured, yet property damage has occurred.
- Never touch an animal that is in the roadway. Report the incident to your insurance company as soon as possible.
Knowing what to do when you encounter a large animal on or near the roadway can be a life-saver. Keeping calm and driving smart improve your chances of avoiding a collision and staying safe on the road. Safe travels!