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9. Auto Accidents: Causes & Prevention

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241
Driver Inattention


If you take your eyes off the road or lose your concentration for just a second, you could find yourself involved in an accident. One second not looking at the road means one fewer second that you have to react to emergency situations. One second, at only 30 mph means you traveled “blind” for about 45 feet!

To avoid being distracted while driving, do not play your radio too loudly or take your eyes off the road when changing CDs or radio stations. Prepare for parking and bridge tolls before the trip by having the money in an easily accessible place.

Plan your trips and review maps before pulling out of the driveway, not while driving. Never stop on a freeway or other roadway if you are lost or to read directions. Exit the freeway or pull to the side of the roadway, park, and study the map again. Another option is to have a passenger do the navigating for you while you are driving.

Cellular phone use -- including wireless phones, mobile phones, and smartphones -- while driving, also has been shown to increase your risk of a traffic accident. Never use a cell phone while driving, and never take your eyes off the road. It is against the law for a person under the age of 18 to use a cell phone while driving. Period. Even if the cell phone is equipped with a hands-free device. If your cell phone rings, do not answer the cell or respond to the text message. Be sure to study the Cellular Phones topic in lesson 3.

As was indicated earlier, if you are angry, upset, or preoccupied with personal problems, you cannot give driving safely your full attention. Do not drive if you are emotionally distressed.

Other passengers, particularly children and pets, can distract you from driving. If you are going to have a conversation with passengers, do not take your eyes off the road. Allow them to perform tasks such as adjusting the radio or temperature in the vehicle, or reading a map or directions.

Sometimes passengers will point out things on the side of the road that they want you to look at. Recognize that this means you must take your eyes off the roadway ahead and can result in a rear-end collision. If you want to look at sights, pull off the road in a safe place.

Because children can become bored and restless during long road trips, they can be very distracting. If you need to address children passengers, it is best to pull off the roadway. Do not turn your head around to discipline children while driving. Try to fend off their boredom by carrying books, games, or tapes in your vehicle to keep children occupied during long trips.

Having pets in a car can also be distracting. They may jump on your lap or under your feet, which can result in an accident. If you need to transport an animal, use a carrying cage or have a passenger hold the pet.

Do not slow down needlessly to look at broken down vehicles, controlled accident scenes, or road construction (i.e., rubbernecking). If you are looking to the side of the road, you are not paying attention to vehicles in front of and behind you. Rubbernecking takes your attention away from driving and is a major cause of accidents, particularly on freeways.

In heavy traffic, it is easy to "zone out" and start thinking about all sorts of things besides driving. If you find yourself zoning-out, do something different, such as rolling down the window or changing the radio station, to keep yourself focused on driving. Remember to continually scan the roadway and your mirrors.

Sometimes while driving you may drop something, lose a contact lens, be stung by a bee, be distracted by children, or be bothered in some other way. Some people panic when these things occur. They become more concerned with the problem than their driving and often run off the road or into another car. Don’t let this happen to you. If you have a problem or there is a distraction, pull over to the side of the road immediately and then take care of the problem.


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 have a tire blowout:


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


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


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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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