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9. Auto Accidents: Causes & Prevention

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Failure to Yield


Failure to yield the right-of-way to another vehicle or pedestrian is the primary collision factor in about 20% of fatal and injury collisions in California.

The two major mistakes that drivers make regarding right-of-way are assuming that other drivers will give them the right-of-way and failure to yield the right-of-way to others.

You should never assume that another driver will yield the right-of-way to you, and you should never insist on taking the right-of-way, if it will help to avoid an accident. Remember that:

  • not everyone knows the right-of-way laws
  • not everyone will obey the right-of-way laws

In either case, you should be prepared for other drivers to make mistakes.

If you are in a hurry, or otherwise emotionally distressed, it is easy to feel like you can demand the right-of-way from other drivers. This sort of unhealthy belief can lead to serious accidents.

Remember that you do not have the right-of-way at a YIELD sign or when entering a roadway from a side street, freeway on-ramp, driveway, or from being parked on the side of the roadway. You should yield the right-of-way to other vehicles and pedestrians already using the traffic lane.

In addition to other vehicles, pedestrians and bicycles also have a right to use the roadway. Be sure to look for them before making turns or lane changes. Common courtesy and a non-assuming attitude are the keys to avoiding accidents caused by right-of-way violations

Improper Turns

Making an illegal or otherwise improper turn is the primary collision factor in about 9% of fatal and injury collisions in California. Illegal left, right, and U-turns are dangerous.

When signs and road marking prohibit these turns, it is for your safety. Failure to obey these signs and road markings can result in a serious accident.

Do not attempt to make a right, left, or U turn when your view, or the view of other drivers and pedestrians is obstructed, such as by parked cars, a hill or turn in the road, or by bushes or trees.

You must use your turn signal before making a turn. Your turn signals let other drivers know what your intentions are. You should also be aware of other drivers’ signals and choose an appropriate course of action should they not follow through with their turn.

You need a large enough gap in traffic to be able to get up to speed before you make a right or left turn. Make sure that you have a large enough gap:

  • in oncoming traffic
  • in traffic traveling in the lane you are going to enter to be able to turn safely

When you turn left, yield the right-of-way to all vehicles on the same road coming from the opposite direction that are close enough to pose a hazard. Turn only when you can see that it is safe and make sure to look for motorcyclists and bicyclists.

When making left turns on divided highways or roadways with several lanes, watch out for vehicles coming in any lane that you must cross.


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


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


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  3. 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?


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  4. If you have a tire blowout:


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


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