Glance at the vehicle ahead as it passes a fixed object, such as an overpass, sign, fence, corner or other fixed mark.
Begin counting, one, one-thousand, two one-thousand, three one-thousand, etc. for the number of seconds it takes you to reach the same place in the road.
If you reach the mark before you have counted off two, three, or four seconds, depending on speed, you're following too closely. Slow down and increase your following distance.
Head-on collisions, typically involving a passing maneuver, annually account for approximately 8,000, or nearly 20%, of all traffic fatalities. While some crashes occur due to impatience or illegal actions, many occur due to lack of knowledge regarding time/space gap requirements. Impatience, errors in timing, and poor judgment of space result in approximately 5,500 fatal head-on collisions annually.
There are a number of instances when it is illegal to pass.
Passing is not permitted when the left lane marker is a solid yellow line, or a sign indicates a no passing zone.
It is illegal to pass on a two-lane road when approaching a hill crest, curve, or intersection.
It is also illegal to pass within 100 feet of bridges, tunnels, and railroad crossings where traffic is limited to one lane of travel in each direction.
Never move into the same lane space as a motorcycle, even if the lane is wide and the motorcyclist is riding to one side.
A four-lane divided or undivided highway can also be used to practice identifying space gap needs when passing a vehicle on a two-lane roadway.
A driver traveling 40 mph is going to make a flying pass of a vehicle traveling 30 mph. If the driver makes all of the visual checks, signals intentions, and starts the pass from an interval two seconds behind the vehicle ahead, it will take about 13 seconds to complete the pass (at 50 and 40 mph, about 16 seconds, and at 60 and 50 mph, about 19 seconds).
If the passing maneuver is started from three seconds back with both vehicles traveling at the same speed, the passing driver will have to accelerate to a speed 15 mph faster than the vehicle to be passed to complete the pass in the same time limits.
To estimate the time and distance of an oncoming vehicle, begin counting one, 1,000; two, 1,000; etc. When an oncoming vehicle is seen, continue the count until the approaching vehicle is opposite your vehicle. Keep trying until accuracy at estimating necessary passing time is achieved.
Passing is one more situation in which the use of headlights during daylight hours is critical. The combined distance traveled by the passing and oncoming vehicle at 60 mph is 38 seconds, or 3,344 feet. Without headlights on, an approaching vehicle may not become visible until it is within 2,200 to 2,500 feet. This is in contrast to about 4,500 feet with headlights or daytime running lights illuminated. The difference in enhanced visibility can be critical.
Railroad crossings are specialized intersections. Some vehicles must always stop, unless an exempt sign allows them to drive on (buses, oil tankers, etc.). If you happen to follow a "Must Stop Vehicle" you must stop as well, since passing or overtaking is not allowed within 100 feet of a crossing. Each year, highway-rail crashes kill over 500 people. Over 2,000 more are seriously injured. Most of these crashes happen during the day and most happen at crossings near the driver's work or home.
Bad weather or problems with the warning signals are rarely factors in these crashes. Driver error causes most of these crashes. Some drivers ignored the warning signals. Others saw or heard the train, but still took a chance. All were trying to beat the train - and lost. Trains are much heavier than cars, trucks or buses - and they go just as fast. But, they cannot stop quickly or turn to avoid a crash. A train going 50 mph (80 kph) takes 1.5 miles (2.4 km) to stop (on average), while a car going 55 mph (88 kph) takes only about 200 feet (61 meters) to stop. Large moving objects, such as planes and trains, create an illusion that they are moving a lot slower than they really are.
Identify the intersection.
Determine the type of intersection and number of intersecting roadways.
Determine your lane position (right turn/left turn/straight) prior to the intersection.
Identify any controls--signal lights, stop or yield signs and information signs. This will provide you with the information you need to adjust speed or position.
Check rear areas. Check if rear zones are open or closed. If the rear zone is closed, tap your brakes a few times before stopping— the brake lights will flash and communicate to the driver to the rear that you are slowing or stopping.
Search for possible intersection problems. Look for problem areas, such as construction or road maintenance, pedestrians on or near the intersection, or obstructions to your line of sight that may include buildings, parked vehicles, trees, fences, etc.
Adjust speed. Intersections are unpredictable and you may have to stop. Be prepared. The closer you get to an intersection, the more important it is to adjust vehicle speed.
Adjust lane position. Choosing the proper position (LP 1, 2, or 3) will lower the risk of possible conflicts by providing you the maximum amount of space between your vehicle and other vehicles
Before entering a signalized intersection, check again for oncoming vehicles signaling a left turn and look for pedestrians in the crosswalk, bicyclists, and cross traffic to make sure that they are stopped before you start to move.
Whether first in line or in a line of vehicles, try to develop the habit of checking traffic and counting to three (1-2-3) before moving. This provides some protection against drivers who fail to stop for a red signal or drivers ahead who suddenly brake to a rapid, unexpected stop. Do not move into the intersection until there is space in the next block. If turning right, yield right-of-way to pedestrians in the crosswalk. Where there is more than one right turn lane, exit and enter the corresponding lane, and be alert for drivers crossing or drifting while making the turn.
Remember when turning right on red, first stop and yield right-of-way to any vehicles, bicycles, or pedestrians in the intended path of travel.
Leaving the expressway is a smooth procedure accomplished at an expressway exit. As far in advance as possible, identify the exit needed. If the exit is missed, do not stop and/or back up on the expressway. Proceed to the next exit and turn around.
The exit has two components:
Deceleration lane - area where speed can be reduced to exit safely.
Exit ramp - these may be level or sharply curved, uphill or downhill. Be sure to adjust speed to that of the ramp speed sign.
Identify the exit needed early. Exits are marked with guide signs, usually one to two miles before the exit. In Virginia, exit numbers correspond with mile markers. You can determine if an exit is a right exit or a left exit by the position of the exit number on the sign. If the exit number is on the right, it is a right exit. If it is on the left, it is a left exit.
About one-half mile (20-30 seconds) before the exit, signal and move to the lane that leads to the deceleration lane. At the deceleration lane entrance, perform a smooth lane change procedure and move into the deceleration lane.
Check the posted ramp speed sign and begin to adjust speed to or below the posted speed. Also, check for traffic stopped ahead. Check mirrors and begin to slow down. Keep a space cushion ahead and behind your vehicle. Be prepared to stop.
9th EditionWilliam Kleitz 3rd EditionAlan B. Marcovitz 11th EditionElizabeth A. Weaver, Frederik R. Mottola, Owen Crabb, Randall R. Thiel 3rd EditionAlan B. Marcovitz