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Choose Safety for Life. Driver Improvement Training Program Why Choose Safety for Life? Crashes are no “accident.” You hold the key to their prevention. Your responsibility. YOUR CHOICE. Each year traffic crashes kill more people in Maryland than homicides.
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Driver Improvement Training Program
Crashes are no “accident.”
You hold the key to their prevention.
Slow down – speeding kills.
Always driver sober.
Everyone share the road.
The majority of serious vehicle related crashes are caused by:
Note: Driver Inattention is responsible for as many accidents as all of the other three causes combined!
DRIVER ERROR is responsible in over 90% of all vehicle accidents!
This means that nearly all highway accidents are preventable.
Make all the necessary adjustments ...
Before you set out, make sure the driver's seat, steering wheel (if adjustable), seat belts, head restraints and rear and side-view mirrors are positioned for maximum comfort, control and visibility.
Check your map in advance and, if you’re going to listen to music, select your favorite radio station before you take off so you never have to take your eyes off the road.
Adjust your mirrors so that you get the widest view possible. This is particularly important on multi-lane highways where you may have to keep tabs on lanes on both sides.
Many drivers do not turn their outside mirrors out far enough and simply duplicate the same scene in all three mirrors.
Performing a vehicle pre-operation safety check is every driver’s responsibility. Make sure your vehicle is properly maintained, check fluid levels and make sure tires are properly inflated.
The driver in the previous slide amazingly walked away from the collision. He was extremely lucky.
If you are ejected from a vehicle your chances of survival are slim.
Always wear your seat belt, and wear it correctly. When putting it on, make sure that the lower lap portion of the belt is snug around your hipbones (not your stomach) because strong hipbones can much better withstand the force of a collision.
In a crash at 30 mph, if unrestrained, you will be thrown forward with a force up to 60 times your bodyweight.
Good Advice -- Reduce Your Speed.
The faster you drive …
… the less reaction time you have to brake,
… the more distance you need to stop,
… the harder it is to control your vehicle,
… the harder your impact in an accident, and
… the greater the chance of serious bodily injury or being killed in an accident.
#1 - Don't speed! - Driving at a higher than reasonable speed increases your risk in two ways: it cuts your reaction time and results in more "stored" energy that must be dissipated in any collision.
#2 - Leave early, plan to arrive 10 minutes before the appointed time. Speeding does not increase your ability to arrive on time, rather it only increases your chances of not arriving at all.
The Two Second Rule
Since the greatest risk of a collision is in front of you, at minimum use the Two Second Rule for establishing a safe following distance. The two second following distance works if you have to stop suddenly because the driver ahead brakes to a stop.
To stay at least two seconds behind the vehicle ahead of you:
The speed of your vehicle affects the distance required to stop it. Stopping distance is determined by three factors:
Perception Distance - This is the length a vehicle travels from the time you see a hazard until your brain recognizes it. For an alert driver, this is approximately ¾ of a second.
Reaction Distance - This is the length a vehicle travels in the time it takes your brain to tell the foot to move from the gas pedal to the brake pedal and apply pressure. This takes approximately ¾ of a second.
Braking Distance - This is the length it takes to stop a vehicle once the brakes are applied.
Note that heavy trucks equipped with air brakes have an additional factor involved in braking distance – brake lag. More on brake lag in the Heavy Truck Operation section.
Be warned that at highway speeds, a two second following distance will NOT give you enough time to stop if the road ahead is suddenly blocked by a collision or a vehicle stopped across your lane.
Be extra careful around school buses:
When Approaching an Intersection …
Approximately forty percent of all traffic crashes occur at intersections.
Failure to yield the right-of-way is not just a breach of driver etiquette, it's breaking the law and it’s one of America's most common driver errors.
Don’t let stress and frustrations turn you into an aggressive driver – driving should not become a competition. If you feel the urge to drive aggressively, try these tips:
Characteristics of Aggressive Drivers:
If you encounter an angry or aggressive driver:
If an aggressive driver is involved in a crash, stop a safe distance from the crash scene. When the police arrive, report the driving behavior you witnessed.
Anyone convicted of aggressive driving will accrue five points on their driving record. The aggressive driving law passed by the Maryland Legislature during the 2001 session takes aim at these drivers who operate motor vehicles without the necessary degree of caution.
According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), drivers rate aggressive driving as the biggest highway danger today in the Maryland, Virginia and Washington DC areas.
The law defines aggressive driving as a combination of three or more offenses, committed during a single period of driving, which include: running a red light, overtaking and passing vehicles unsafely, passing on the right, following too closely, failing to yield the right of way, and exceeding the speed limit.
Alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes kill someone every 30 minutes and injure someone every two minutes (NHTSA).
Alcohol is a factor in about 40 percent of the more than 40,000 deaths that occur each year in vehicle crashes.
Drugs other than alcohol (e.g., marijuana and cocaine) have been identified as factors in 18% of deaths among motor vehicle drivers. Other drugs are generally used in combination with alcohol (NHTSA).
Every year, 1.5 million people are arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Think Ahead - Expect other drivers to make mistakes and think about what you would do if a mistake does happen. For example, do not assume that a vehicle coming to a Stop sign is going to stop. Be ready to react if it does not stop.
In addition to affecting your reaction time alcohol and other drugs can:
- Affect your ability to control the vehicle.
- Increase aggressive behavior.
- Hinder your judgment process.
- Affect your vision.
Maryland is Tough on Drunk Drivers
If a driver is pulled over and has a blood alcohol concentration of .07 or higher, he or she will be arrested for drunk driving.
The .07 level can translate into just a drink or two depending on one’s height and weight.
Also, in Maryland, there is zero tolerance for drivers under the age of 21. They are not allowed to operate a motor vehicle with any alcohol in their system. In contrast, the legal limit for commercial truck drivers is .04.
Driver inattention is one of the main causes of accidents, injuries and deaths.
If a driver looks down for just one second while driving 65 mph, their vehicle has traveled almost 100 feet!
Playing with the radio, dialing a mobile phone, trying to eat some fast-food can all be dangerous practices.
Do not allow yourself to be distracted while driving. Stay focused on the task at hand - driving.
Look Down the Road!
This means keep your eyes up and looking down the road. Many drivers focus on the road only 5 or 8 seconds ahead.
You should be looking about 15-20 seconds ahead of your vehicle, farther if you can. This gives you the time to recognize and avoid most potential hazards before they become a problem. You'll see lane restrictions or construction areas, traffic congestion, truck entrances, mishaps, etc.
DRIVER FATIGUE IS A KILLER
Stay Rested - Drivers who are sleepy or fatigued demonstrate the same impaired judgment and decreased reaction times as drunk drivers.
Maryland continually works to enhance its world class transportation network by improving safety and mobility. That's why you're likely to encounter a number of roadway work zones while driving throughout the State. These work zones may be a result of construction, maintenance, or utility work along major and secondary roadways.
Work zones are a temporary inconvenience, but they are necessary to develop improved and safer roads for everyone.
Unexpected Conditions - Motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians may encounter a variety of work zone conditions, such as:
Remember that not all roadway work zones are large construction projects. Some projects may be smaller, moving work zones such as pothole repair, mowing, surveying or utility work.
Stay Alert - Make safety your first priority.
Watch Your Speed - Obey posted speed limits.
Expect the Unexpected - Work zone conditions change constantly - be ready to react.
Minimize Distractions - Avoid using cell phones, changing radio stations and reaching for objects.
Across the nation, nearly 1,100 people die and more than 40,000 people are injured annually as a result of motor vehicle crashes in work zones. Speeding, inattentive driving, and aggressive driving habits in merge areas are the primary causes of work zone crashes.
In any work zone, expect the unexpected!
Normal speed limits are reduced, traffic lanes may change and work vehicles may suddenly enter or leave the road. Orange diamond-shaped warning signs are usually posted in advance of any construction. You may also see workers with flags or signs. Flaggers have the same authority as a regulatory sign, and you can be cited for disobeying their commands.
Sharing the road means …
… being courteous, following traffic laws and looking out for others – pedestrians, motorcyclists, large trucks and bicyclists.
… driving defensively - committing no driving errors and making all reasonable allowances for the lack of skill or improper driving practices of other drivers.
… driving to compensate for unusual weather, road, and traffic conditions, and is not involved in a crash because of by the unsafe actions of pedestrians and other drivers.
… remaining alert to crash-inducing situations, recognizes the need for preventive action in advance and takes the necessary precautions to prevent a crash.
… knowing when it is necessary to slow down, stop, or yield right-of-way to avoid involvement.
#1 - Be courteous, even when other drivers are not. Don't assume the other driver is out to antagonize you; he or she may just be in a hurry, too.
#2 – Set an example through safe, courteous driving.
It's the Law in Maryland
Stop for Pedestrians.
In Maryland, it’s the law that all vehicles must stop at crosswalks for any pedestrian. Always prepare to stop when you approach an intersection and look out for pedestrian traffic.
Crosswalks exist at all intersections, even if not marked.
In Maryland, approximately 100 pedestrians are killed each year. Pedestrian injuries can be prevented. Take care to be a defensive pedestrian and an alert driver.
Maryland Pedestrian Safety Laws
Failure to stop for pedestrians at intersections without traffic signals and at mid-block crossings: Penalty $70 and one point. If the violation contributes to a crash, you can be fined up to $500 and receive three points and/or two months in jail.
Failure to stop for pedestrians at intersections with traffic signals: Penalty $80 and one point. If violation contributes to a crash, you can receive three points.
Drivers who fail to stop for a school bus with flashing lights activated can be fined $1,000.
Police officers who issue the citations no longer have to appear in court when a driver challenges the fines.
Remember every time you step out of your vehicle, you become a pedestrian too!
Bicyclists Are Vehicle Operators
Bicycles are treated as vehicles in Maryland. Motorists must yield to cyclists in situations in which they would yield to other vehicles.
A cyclist must ride on the shoulder or bike lane if present. If there is no shoulder or bike lane, a cyclist must use the right side of the road riding with traffic unless turning left or passing a slower vehicle.
Do not attempt to share the lane with bicyclists. If the lane is too narrow to safely pass a cyclist, reduce your speed and follow the bicycle at a safe distance. Wait for a safe opportunity to pass, allowing adequate clearance (about three feet from the side of your vehicle) and return to your lane when you can clearly see the cyclist in your rear-view mirror.
Share the road and do not use your horn. The cyclist can usually hear an approaching vehicle and loud noises can startle the cyclist and may cause a crash.
Give bicyclists wide berth, they sometimes need to maneuver around potholes, opening car doors, and other obstacles.
Sharing the Road with Trucks
A recent survey examined crashes involving passenger vehicles (including cars, pickups, minivans and SUVs) and commercial trucks. The survey estimates some 5,000 deaths and 140,000 injuries in the U.S. can be attributed to dangerous driving near commercial trucks and tractor-trailers.
In most fatal crashes involving commercial trucks and passenger vehicles, the passenger vehicle is at fault. Listed below are five driving behaviors that were factors in most of the fatal crashes:
Stay Clear of Trucks
Never, drive beside a large truck for long periods of time.
Wind turbulence around a truck can push you off the road or pull you into the truck.
When a tire blows on an eighteen wheeler at high speed, it creates a force similar to an explosion and has caused very serious injury and even death to the occupants of adjacent vehicles.
Understanding some of the challenges and limitations involved in maneuvering commercial vehicles such as heavy trucks, busses and cargo vans will help you share the road safely.
Blind Spots “The No Zone” - Truck and bus drivers have huge blind spots, and sometimes must react quickly to hazards in front of them by switching lanes. Keep your distance so the truck driver can see you in the rear or side mirrors. Avoid traveling in the “The No Zone”for any length of time … if you can't see the truck driver's face in the side mirror, he or she can't see you.
Passing - If you cut in front of a truck too soon after passing and then slow down, you force the truck driver to quickly brake and gear down. This can be very dangerous when a truck is hauling a heavy load, making them unable to stop quickly. Be sure you can see the headlights of the truck before re-entering the lane. Use your turn signals and, once you have passed, maintain your speed.
Wide Turns - To safely negotiate right turns, trucks may swing wide to the left before turning right. Stay well behind. Do not squeeze between the truck and the right curb. The truck has the right of way in this situation.
Never cut in front of a truck - Because it takes them twice as long to stop, truck drivers try to leave extra room behind the car they’re following. They cannot slow down or stop as fast as cars.
Roll Back - On an incline a truck may roll back as the driver takes his foot off the brake to accelerate. Leave plenty of room when coming to a stop behind a truck.
Right Hand Turns
When you see a truck driver trying to make a right hand turn NEVER go to the right because the driver CANNOT see you!
It's the Law in Maryland
Full Stop Before a Turn on Red.
Unless there is a sign prohibiting it, Maryland law allows drivers to turn right only after stopping for a red light. Drivers may also turn left from a one-way street onto another one-way street if there is no sign that says “No Turn on Red”.
The fatality rate for teenage drivers is about four times as high as the rate for drivers 25 to 69 years of age.
Common High Risk factors associated with teen drivers include:
Driving at night. Most fatal crashes among teens occur after 9 p.m.
Poor seat belt use. Teens use seat belts less frequently than adults, significantly increasing risk of injury and death.
Driving with multiple passengers. Among teen drivers, multiple passengers can dramatically increase the risk of crashes.
Driving under the influence. Even small amounts of drugs or alcohol can impair judgment and skills.
Wear your seat belt! Without a doubt, seat belts are the most significant safety device ever invented.
Older Drivers The effects of aging can affect the safe driving abilities of some older adults. Per mile driven, the fatality rate for drivers 85 years and older is nine times higher than the rate for drivers 25 to 69 years old.
The excess crash rate of older drivers results from impairments in the following functions that are important for driving:
Vision is the primary sense utilized in driving. Adequate visual acuity and field of vision are important for safe driving, but tend to decline with age.
Hearing is also a very important primary sense utilized in driving. Hearing loss includes the inability to hear high-pitched sounds. Uncorrected hearing loss leads to inattentive driving.
Cognition - Driving requires a variety of high-level cognitive skills, including memory, visual processing, attention, and executive skills. Certain medical conditions and medications that are common in the older population have a large impact on cognition.
Motor function - Motor abilities such as muscle strength, endurance, and flexibility are necessary for operating vehicle controls and turning to view traffic.
Rain, Snow and Ice
Remember that roads are extra slippery at the start of a rain shower because oil has risen to the road’s surface and has not yet had a chance to wash away.
Heavy rains will cause more problems because your tires can begin to hydroplane like water skis. In this case, the key to keeping your tires in contact with the road is to simply slow down.
There is an old saying - "If the roads are wet, drive like it's snowing. If the roads are snow-covered, drive like they're icy. If the roads are icy, then don't drive.”
It's the Law in Maryland
Turn on Lights in the Rain
Maryland law requires all drivers to turn on their headlights whenever they are using their windshield wipers.
An important skill to learn in snow and ice is the controlled slide. If your vehicle begins to slide, take the following steps to regain control:
1. Take your foot off the accelerator pedal.
2. If you have anti-lock brakes, apply them firmly. The ABS system prevents the wheels from locking, enabling you to steer around obstacles. Otherwise, avoid using brakes, pumping them gently only if you are about to hit something.
3. Steer the car into the direction of the skid to straighten out the vehicle, then steer in the direction you wish to go.
If your vehicle ever goes into a spin, there are two hard and fast rules you should follow:
#1 - Do not try to accelerate out of the spin.
#2 - Do not hold the brake pedal down.
When driving in cold, but sunny weather, icy patches tend to linger in areas shaded by trees and on bridges. Watch out for them.
- In the rain add at least 50% more stopping distance than under normal conditions.
- On snow covered roads allow at least twice the distance.
- On icy roads allow at least three times the stopping distance.
Have a pre-winter vehicle inspection performed - checking your vehicle’s antifreeze, oil, battery, defroster, heater, wiper blades, lights, washer fluid and tires.
Check tires to be sure there is adequate tread and check air pressure to ensure proper inflation. Use radials or chains during snow emergencies.
It’s a good idea to keep an emergency kit on hand, including: a flashlight, blanket, bag of sand or salt, extra washer fluid, a windshield scraper, jumper cables, tire chains or traction mats, food and water. Also, maintain at least a half a tank of gas at all times during the winter season.
The best advice we can give to drivers confronted with thick fog is to get off the road as soon as possible. If you can't or won't pull off the road, we offer the following advice:
Slow down and leave wider spaces between you and other drivers when you encounter bad weather, glare, narrow/twisting roads and low light conditions.
Beware of the Dark
Although there is much less traffic, more than half of all crashes occur after dark. The most dangerous time is between 9:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m. on weekends. One explanation is that there are three times as many alcohol-related crashes at night. But the fact remains, drivers simply can't see as well at night, particularly older drivers. When the sun sets, remember to:
• Slow down. Reduce your speed at night to compensate for low visibility, and never over-drive your headlights.
• Dim your high beams. In most states it is illegal to use high beams within 500 feet of an oncoming vehicle. High beams can blind the other driver, particularly older drivers, who take up to eight times as long to recover from glare as a teenager. Be considerate; dim your high beams to oncoming traffic, as well as vehicles you approach from the rear.
• Divert your eyes. When you meet high beams head on, don't stare into them. Look to the right edge of the road. Safety experts recommend that you not flick your high beams to warn the other driver, although this is common practice. Never, however, should you get even by leaving your own high beams on. This only increases the chances of an accident.
• Focus driving lights. Many sporty models today have an extra set of driving or fog lights. Although they can aid drivers in the fog or on certain dark country lanes, these lights should be used sparingly in well-lighted urban areas, and they should be kept focused on the road, not shining up in the trees or into the eyes of oncoming drivers.
Having your vision checked regularly is very important. MVA requires a minimum of 20-40 in order to pass the eye exam for a driver’s license or renewal.
Routine eye exams are necessary not only to assess your visual acuity, but also to determine if you may have a degenerative eye condition that may be affecting your driving performance.
Examples of degenerative eye conditions:
Glaucoma - Gradual loss of visual function beginning in periphery areas associated with increased ocular pressure
Cataracts - Opacity or clouding of the crystalline lens
Macular Degeneration - Loss of vision in the central (macular) vision area due to neurological damage
Keep your eyes moving.
Notice what is happening on the sides of the road and check behind you through your mirrors every 6-8 seconds.
It’s estimated that more than one out of four Americans has some form of serious medical/mental condition that could impact driving performance.
Although we hope the majority of drivers are taking appropriate measures to control their medical conditions, it’s a certainty that there are others that do not. Be aware, alert and on-guard for erratic and/or dangerous driver habits. It could be due to an uncontrolled medical or mental condition.
The two colors used most frequently for pavement markings are white and yellow. White lines separate traffic traveling in the same direction and mark the right edge of roadways and ramps.
Yellow lines generally separate traffic traveling in opposite directions and mark the left edge of divided highways and ramps. If you ever see a yellow line on your right, you're going the wrong way!
The Rules of Passing
A. Double solid yellow centerlines means no passing is allowed in either direction.
B. A single dashed yellow centerline means you are allowed to pass if it is safe to do so.
C. A combination of solid and dashed yellow centerlines has two meanings: If the dashed line is in your lane, you can pass. If the solid line is in your lane, you can't pass.
When you merge, make sure you have plenty of room. Always use your turn signal to show your intentions before making a move. If someone cuts you off, slow down and give them room to merge into your lane.
Traffic control devices are the primary means of regulating, warning, and guiding traffic on our streets and highways.
Signs, signals and markings are roadway communications to drivers. Pay attention to all signs as they provide a “road map” for possible hazards ahead.
The shapes and colors of signs are standardized to give the motoring public an indication as to what the sign says. Recognizing signs by their shape and color before you are close enough to clearly read it will put you in more control on any road.
Generally, warning signs are diamond-shaped, such as the lane added or merge signs. Signs that are colored blue carry information to highway users.
A new color is being used for the pedestrian, bicycle and school crossing signs. It's called florescent yellow green, and it will convey the same message as yellow warning signs.
When stopping at a stop sign, spell S-T-O-P to yourself before proceeding.
Always turn your head to look left, then right, straight ahead, then left again before proceeding.
Although most highway exits are on the right, some exits are on the left. Dangerous situations can be avoided by noticing the yellow left exit panel at the bottom of the highway sign.
Also, look for the small green exit number panel at the top of the sign. If it's on the left side of the sign, your exit is also on the left side of the road.
Both signs and markings have the function of regulating, warning, guiding and/or channeling traffic. Signs are of various shapes and colors, and it is necessary to become familiar with them.
Red is exclusively for Stop and Yield signs, Do Not Enter, Wrong Way, and No Parking signs.
Black on white is used for speed limit, route markers, regulatory, and bridge/weight signs.
Yellow denotes warning or caution for existing or potentially hazardous conditions on or adjacent to a highway or street.
Orange is used for construction or maintenance operations alerting traffic of obstructions or restrictions to normal traffic flow.Traffic Control Signage
Fluorescent Yellow-Green is now approved for pedestrian, bicycle, and school crossing warning signs. (In Maryland this color is used mostly for school crossing warning signs.)
Brown is used as background color for guide and information signs related to points of recreational or cultural interest.
Green is for guide signs and mileposts, and as a message color on permissive regulation and parking signs.
Blue denotes information signs related to motorist services, including handicap, police services, and rest areas.Traffic Control Signage
Match your speed to the driving conditions.
Be ready for other drivers’ mistakes.
Always look for possible escape routes.
Congratulations, you’re almost finished!
We hope you enjoyed the training, and learned something you may not have known along the way.
There’s a significant amount of traffic on our roadways today and too many people are in a great big hurry. If not cautious, it’s easily possible to get involved in a serious situation on our highways.
From the information you’ve received through this training, and by making sure to use mature discipline while driving, it is hoped that you will continue to be safe while driving. Your family and friends are counting on you being around and driving defensively.
Thank you for your attention and your time.