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9. Auto Accidents: Causes & Prevention

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Tailgating & Unsafe Passing

Tailgating

is indicated as the primary collision factor in about 3% of all fatal and injury accidents in California.

If you are following another vehicle too closely (tailgating) you are not able to see hazards ahead of you as easily, and have less time to stop or slow down before you will rear-end the driver ahead of you in an emergency situation.

Tailgating is particularly hazardous on freeways because vehicles are usually traveling faster and other drivers slow down needlessly to look at broken-down vehicles and other scenes, which is called rubbernecking. Rubbernecking and tailgating are a dangerous mix which lead to rear-end accidents.

You need enough space in front of your vehicle to be able to stop safely. You should always keep a minimum of a 3-second gap in front of your vehicle. To do so, pick a fixed object on the roadway such as a sign or pavement marking and count the seconds from when the vehicle ahead of you passes the object to when you reach the object. If it is not at least 3 seconds, you need to slow down and increase your following distance.

In some situations you should have an even larger gap of space in front of your vehicle, because a 3-second gap is not large enough for you to be able to stop safely. When following a motor cycle or large truck, for example, you should give yourself at least a 4- second cushion of space in front of your vehicle.

You should also give yourself more than a 3-second cushion of space in front of your vehicle if the road surface or weather is poor, and when you are near a place where pedestrians or vehicles may enter the road such as near schools, playgrounds, business districts, and shopping centers.

It is rarely a bad idea to give yourself even more than 3- or 4- second gap of space in front of your vehicle. For example, when you are stuck in freeway traffic, you will find that you need to completely stop your vehicle less often if you keep an even larger cushion of space in front of your vehicle. This saves wear on both your brakes and your clutch

Unsafe Passing

Unsafe passing is the primary collision factor in about 1% of fatal and injury accidents in California.

When you pass another vehicle on a two-lane road, you must drive in the lane of oncoming traffic. As was indicated earlier, this is extremely dangerous because it can result in deadly head-on collisions.

You must determine whether it is both safe and legal to pass the vehicle ahead of you before attempting to do so. Do not attempt to pass another driver when your view of the upcoming roadway is obstructed, and do not take unnecessary risks. If you are not sure whether you have enough time to pass the vehicle ahead of you before oncoming traffic is near, do not attempt to pass.

If possible, wait for a designated passing lane or for the slower-moving vehicle ahead of you to use a turn-out area.

If you are being passed, be courteous to the driver passing you. Do not speed up in your lane when you are being passed or swerve your vehicle to annoy the passer. Drive near the right edge of your roadway to assist the other driver and either maintain a constant speed, or slow down slightly.

Accidents are particularly likely if you pass a vehicle ahead of you that you find annoying, such as when a slow moving vehicle refuses to use a turn-out lane or speeds up during passing lanes.

Do not let your emotions cause you to do something unsafe such as suddenly pulling into oncoming traffic or attempting an unsafe maneuver. Think and plan before you attempt to pass another vehicle. You are not going to get to your destination any faster if you are killed or injured.


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. 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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  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"?


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  3. If you have a tire blowout:


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


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


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