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9. Auto Accidents: Causes & Prevention

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20. Fog, Dust & Smoke

Certain natural conditions make the roadways more dangerous than at other times. These conditions include:

  • fog
  • dust
  • smoke
  • rain or other wet roadways
  • snow, ice, or mud
  • strong winds

  • You need to know what to do when you encounter these conditions to avoid an accident. Driving at night is also more dangerous than driving during the day because your vision is more limited. You should also know what to do if an earthquake occurs while you are driving.

    When driving in bad weather, you should remember that the faster the speed, the less control you have over your vehicle. Rather than just following the posted speed limit, you should consider how the road conditions may affect the safe operation of your vehicle.

    For example, if the posted speed limit is 35 MPH, you should not drive this speed if you are traveling towards a curve on a downhill icy road.

    Make sure that your vehicle's windows and lights are clean and working before driving in bad weather. Check that the windshield wipers and defroster are properly working and that you have adequate tread on your tires.

    You should carry emergency equipment when driving in bad weather such as:

  • blankets or sleeping bags
  • non-perishable food
  • water
  • flares
  • extra clothing

  • Carry tire chains when you know you will be driving in the snow or when you think it might snow.


    The best advice for fog is to avoid driving in it altogether. Serious pile-up accidents involving multiple vehicles frequently occur in severe fog. You should consider postponing your trip until the fog clears.

    If you must drive in the fog, then slow down and turn your low beam headlights on (and fog lights, if you have them). The light from high beam headlights will reflect back and cause serious glare, so you should not use them in the fog. Never drive with just your fog or parking lights on, whether or not there is fog.

    You should increase the space cushion (following distance) in front of your vehicle and be prepared to stop within the space you can see in front of your vehicle. Avoid crossing or passing lanes of traffic unless absolutely necessary.

    Use your windshield wipers and defroster for best vision. If visibility is poor, roll down your window and turn off your radio so you can listen for vehicles you cannot see.

    You should watch for slow moving vehicles ahead and check your rear-view mirror for vehicles approaching from the rear. Only use your brakes when you need to; do not repeatedly flash your brake lights for no reason because it will confuse other drivers behind you.

    If the fog becomes so thick that you can barely see, pull completely off the road. Get off at an exit or rest stop, if possible, and wait for conditions to improve. Do not continue driving until you can see better.

    If your vehicle stalls in the fog, you should:

  • move off the roadway as quickly as possible
  • move away from your vehicle
  • use flasher or flares to warn others

  • Dust Storms

    Certain parts of California are prone to have large dust storms which limit your visibility similar to fog. If you can avoid driving in a dust storm, stay off the road. If you must drive, use the methods prescribed for driving in fog.

    Lesson Summary


    Lesson 9 Quiz

    You will now answer 5 questions to test what you learned during this lesson. You must answer all questions correctly to receive completion credit for this lesson. You may answer the questions as many times as necessary to get them right.

    You should review the lesson material if you don't do well on the quiz.

    1. If you have a tire blowout:


    2. If you are distracted for one second, by a cell phone, passenger, or other distraction, at 30 mph you will travel how far "blindly"?


    3. Teenage drivers have a total accident rate that is _____ times that of adults:


    4. To avoid tailgating, and help avoid a rear-end collision, you should give yourself a gap of how many seconds behind the car in front of you?


    5. Failure to yield is the primary cause of what percentage of fatal and injury collisions?



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