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Driver Improvement Training Program

Driver Improvement Training

Advance the program to the next page by clicking your mouse.

table of contents
Table of Contents

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table of contents2
Table of Contents

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drive safely we care about you
Drive SafelyWe care about you!

The average State employee received his or her driver’s license 30 years ago!

How long has it been since you have reviewed the rules of the road?

The State of Maryland is genuinely committed to protecting its employees on the road.This Driver Improvement Program is a tool to freshen driving skills and keep State employees out of harm’s way.

Be a driving force for safety – protect yourself, your colleagues, your family and friends by driving safely.

why be a driving force for safety
Why be a driving force for safety?
  • Each year traffic crashes kill more people in Maryland than homicides.
  • Over 90% of fatal crashes are preventable incidents caused by driver error.
  • Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for people ages 3 to 33.

The Driving Force for Safety campaign is part of the overall Choose Safety for Life campaign, an effort to promote traffic safety, raise awareness, prevent crashes and injuries and save lives.


Everyone loses when there is a serious crash. When a person is fatally injured, the loss is felt in families, communities and work places. Injury crashes can be nearly as devastating.

This training program will help sharpen your driving skills, so that driving will continue to be a safe and pleasurable experience.

The Choose Safety for Life Campaign empowers drivers, pedestrians and cyclists to make the right choices on the road. Nearly 600 lives could be saved every year if everyone practices the B-SAFE tenets: Buckle up, Slow down – speeding kills, Always drive sober, Focus, Everyone share the road – everyone gets home.

Be A Driving Force for Safety is a call to action to State employees to protect themselves on the road , and to set the example for others. By doing so, lives can be saved.

Crashes are no “accident.”

You hold the key to their prevention.

state fleet drivers set the standard for other drivers on maryland roadways
State Fleet Drivers set the standard for other drivers on Maryland roadways.

The following is an extract from the Department of Budget and Management, Policies and Procedures for Vehicle Fleet Management. If you would like to view the complete document you can do so on the Department of Budget and Management Internet site at:


Only authorized drivers are eligible to drive a State vehicle. The privilege to drive a State vehicle is contingent upon compliance with the Policies and Procedures for Drivers of State Vehicles.

Prior to driving a State vehicle, the driver shall sign an Acknowledgement Statement. A copy of the signed Acknowledgement Statement shall be retained by the Agency fleet manager. Drivers who do not sign the Acknowledgement Statement are NOT authorized to drive State vehicles.

rules for drivers of state vehicles


Rules for Drivers of State Vehicles

Driver Eligibility

In order to be eligible to drive a State vehicle a driver must have a driver’s license valid in the State of Maryland and appropriate for the class of vehicle driven and have five (5) or fewer points on his/her current driving record.

Eligibility shall be immediately suspended for a driver who is charged with any motor vehicle violation for which a penalty of incarceration is possible while driving a State vehicle. Motor vehicle citations for these violations will indicate that the violation is a “Must Appear” violation and that the driver must appear when notified by the Court. Eligibility shall remain suspended until the Agency’s Accident Review Board has reviewed the occurrence, and a decision regarding further action is made.

Drivers who have had their driving privilege suspended as a result of point accumulation, being charged with any offense for which a penalty of incarceration is possible while driving a State vehicle, or a determination by the Accident Review Board or Agency Head shall be reimbursed for use of a private vehicle at no more than one-half of the effective State reimbursement rate.

rules for drivers of state vehicles1
Rules for Drivers of State Vehicles

Driver Record Review

The driving record of each authorized driver will be reviewed by the Agency when the driver signs the Acknowledgement Statement and when information is received regarding an authorized driver’s point accumulation via MVA monitoring programs.

Drivers with out-of-state driver’s licenses must provide a certified copy of their driver record to the Agency when they sign the Acknowledgement Statement, and annually thereafter. Drivers with out-of-state driver’s licenses must notify their Agency fleet manager in the event they accumulate more than five (5) points on their driving record. This notification must occur within ten (10) days of the points being assessed.

rules for drivers of state vehicles2
Rules for Drivers of State Vehicles

Permissible Use of State Vehicles

State vehicles are to be used to conduct official State business. Whenever possible, trips should be planned to coincide with other authorized driver travel requirements so that vehicles are used efficiently and economically.

a. State vehicles shall not be used for personal reasons, including to transport friends or members of the family (e.g., transporting children to and from school).

b. Passengers in State automobiles are limited to persons being transported in connection with State business.

c. There shall be no smoking in State vehicles.

rules for drivers of state vehicles3
Rules for Drivers of State Vehicles

All drivers shall operate State vehicles in compliance with the Motor Vehicle Laws of the jurisdiction in which the vehicle is being driven and in a manner that reflects concern for safety and courtesy towards the public. You set an example for drivers around you.

a. An authorized driver shall operate a State vehicle in accordance with any license requirements or restrictions, such as corrective lenses, daytime only, etc.

b. The driver of a State vehicle shall take every precaution to ensure the safety of passengers. No person may ride in a State vehicle unless properly restrained by a seat belt or, in the case of children, an appropriate child seat. (NOTE: Some State Agencies must transport children as part of their job.) It shall be the driver’s responsibility to ensure that all passengers are properly restrained.

c. All traffic and parking laws are to be obeyed. Posted speed limits are not to be exceeded, nor is the vehicle to be operated above safe driving speeds for road conditions. All traffic and parking violations and fines, including any late fees or penalties, are the responsibility of the driver involved. Failure to promptly pay a violation or fine may result in disciplinary action.

rules for drivers of state vehicles4
Rules for Drivers of State Vehicles

d. The driver of a State vehicle shall take every precaution to ensure the safety of the vehicle and its contents. The driver shall lock the vehicle and take the keys, except in those instances when a commercial parking garage requires the keys to be left with the vehicle.

e. Authorized drivers of State vehicles are personally responsible for vehicles operated by them. If a State vehicle is damaged beyond repair as a result of misuse or gross negligence, the operator of the vehicle may be required to make restitution of the difference between the amount obtained as salvage value and the amount of the then current wholesale value of the vehicle as reported in the National Auto Research Black Book Used Care Market Guide, MD Edition.


New hands-free cell phone use

policy is in effect

If a mobile communications device must be used by an employee while driving a State vehicle, a hands free device must be used. Drivers are encouraged to keep mobile communications device use to a minimum.  Whenever possible, employees should not make or receive calls while driving.  Only in the case of an emergency is the use of a hand held mobile communications device without a hands free device permitted.  

**Remember there is a new State law in effect that bans “texting” while driving.

rules for drivers of state vehicles5
Rules for Drivers of State Vehicles

Moving Violation Reporting

An authorized driver, including Agency Heads, charged with a moving violation or a “must appear violation” while driving a State vehicle shall notify his/her Agency fleet manager immediately, and in no case later than the following business day.

In turn, the Agency shall notify DBM in writing within two business days of receiving notice of the charge. Failure to timely report the receipt of a moving violation or a must appears violation may result in disciplinary action.

rules for drivers of state vehicles6
Rules for Drivers of State Vehicles

Incident Guidelines and Reporting

If there is an accident involving a State vehicle, the State Accident Guidelines should be followed. A copy of these guidelines will be kept in the Vehicle Mileage Log folder.

Authorized drivers, including Agency Heads, who are involved in an accident while driving a State vehicle shall report the incident to their Agency fleet manager immediately, and in no case later than the following business day even if no other vehicle is involved or there are no apparent injuries or damages.

pre operation safety check
Pre-Operation Safety Check
  • Before you operate a State vehicle, perform a simple and easy vehicle pre-operation safety check.
  • Look at the overall condition of the vehicle.
  • Check your turn signals for proper operation.
  • Turn on the lights and walk around the vehicle to ensure that all lights operate.
  • Check to see if the tires are properly inflated and in good condition.
  • If you must back out of a parked position, always inspect behind your vehicle for obstructions before getting into the vehicle.
  • Every time you refuel, check your oil and other fluid levels. Look for noticeable leaks throughout the engine compartment.
  • Report anything needing service.
  • As a common courtesy to others, after you’re finished using a State vehicle, if the fuel reading is below half a tank, make sure to refuel the vehicle before parking.

The pre-operation safety check at the right is for State passenger vehicles, light trucks and vans. Our heavy equipment fleet is subject to a more rigorous pre- and post-trip daily inspection checklist.

pre operation safety check1
Pre-Operation Safety Check

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 once under way.

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.

Smart Driving

Performing a vehicle pre-operation safety check is every driver’s responsibility.

Also, remember to keep State vehicles clean, free of paper, empty soda cans, etc.

Someone else will likely be driving the vehicle after you.

pre operation safety check2
Pre-Operation Safety Check

Adjusting Your Mirrors:

Rule of Thumb: If you can see even a glimpse of the sides of your car in your outside mirrors they are turned too far inwards.

To properly adjust the left mirror, place your head close to the left window and adjust the mirror so that you can just see the left side of the car. For the right mirror, move your head towards the center of the vehicle and adjust the right mirror in the same way. When you are sitting correctly in the driver's seat, you will not be able to see your vehicle, but your blind spots will be greatly reduced.

odc esr form

All State agencies have a formal inspection program for State vehicles to assure that they are clean, properly equipped, and well maintained.

An Operator’s Daily Checklist (ODC) and/or Equipment Service Request (ESR) form*, or combined Operator’s Daily Checklist/Equipment Service Request (ODC/ESR) form is an important part of the fleet service and maintenance program. These form(s) are used for both passenger vehicles and heavy equipment.

Prior to using a State vehicle, you should inspect the vehicle to make sure that it is in proper operating condition. If there is any problem with the vehicle, a completed ESR form must be submitted with the vehicle to the appropriate maintenance facility prior to use.

* Note that different State Agencies may have different titles for these forms.

steering tips
Steering Tips

What's the Best Way To Hold a Steering Wheel?

When driving a vehicle with a driver's side air bag, it’s recommended to grip the wheel within the 9 and 3 o’clock, and 10 and 2 o'clock positions. A grip any higher puts you at risk of wrist and/or face injury, should the air bag deploy. Any lower position not only encourages lazy driving, with the arms resting on the driver's thighs or lap, but it also significantly reduces a driver's ability to steer accurately and swiftly in the event of an emergency.

Steering - Use Two Hands

Many people fail to use two hands when driving. Modern cars with advanced suspensions shield us from the road; they almost tempt us to be lazy. Don’t allow yourself to be fooled. Cars appear stable when driven in a straight line. However, when someone near you loses control of their car, and you are forced within less than 1/2 second to take an evasive maneuver, the real test of a car's stability is called into question.

tire safety
Tire Safety

Everything Rides On It

Tire tread provides the gripping action and traction that prevent a vehicle from sliding, especially when the road is wet or icy. In general, when a tire’s tread has been worn down to 1/16th of an inch, it is not safe and should be replaced.

Tires have built-in tread wear indicators that notify motorists when they should be replaced. These indicators are raised sections spaced intermittently in the bottom of the tread grooves. When they appear "even" with the outside of the tread, it's time for tire replacement.

Another method of checking tire tread involves the use of a Lincoln penny. The motorist should place the penny upside down within the tread. If the top of Lincoln's head is visible, the tire needs to be replaced.

tire safety1
Tire Safety

Tire Safety - Everything Rides On It

A radial tire can lose much of its air pressure and still appear to be fully inflated. Operating a vehicle with substantially under-inflated tires can result in tire failure, such as tire separation and blowouts, with the potential for loss of control of the vehicle. Under-inflated tires also shorten tire life and increase fuel consumption.

Tires should be inflated according to the vehicle manufacturer's recommendations. These can be found in the owner's manual or on a placard, which is often located in the glove compartment or on the driver's doorjamb.

Motorists should not rely on visual tire inspections to determine whether a tire is properly inflated but should use a tire pressure gauge to do so.

actual accounts
Actual Accounts

Tire Failure Accident

“My wife and I had bought a brand new 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee. We had only had the vehicle for about eight days when we went on vacation to a family reunion.

On our return home, I was with my brother-in-law in his car and my wife and her sister were in the Grand Cherokee with my 3 year old daughter and 6 year old son. We were on a straight road on a beautiful day.

The tire blew out on the Grand Cherokee, sending it out of control and flipping over. My wife and my son were killed instantly.

This accident and the deaths of my wife and son are all due to a tire blow out.

Please inspect your tires routinely.”

restraint use
Restraint Use
  • All persons who ride in a State vehicle must have their seat belt fastened.
  • FACTS:
  • Every 13 minutes, someone is killed in a traffic crash.
  • Three of five people killed in vehicle crashes would have survived their injuries had they been wearing seat belts.
  • Seat belts save an estimated 9,500 lives in the United States each year.
  • (Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)

Smart Driving

In a crash at 30 mph, if unrestrained, you will be thrown forward with a force up to 60 times your bodyweight.


restraint use1
Restraint Use

This video clip shows what can happen to your body in an accident when you don’t wear a seat belt.

(video will start automatically)

Footage approval from DriveCam at

Ejected = Death!

Wear Your Seat Belt.

It Will Save Your Life!

restraint use2
Restraint Use

The driver in the previous slide amazingly walked away from the collision. He was extremely lucky.

The majority of people thrown from their vehicle in a collision don’t live to talk about it. 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. Makes sense, doesn't it?

driver fatigue
Driver Fatigue
  • Tips on avoiding driver fatigue on long trips ...
  • An obvious cause of fatigue is the lack of sleep. Get enough rest and don't start a trip late in the day.
  • Plan your trip to include regular rest breaks (at least 15 minutes every two hours). Get out of the car, walk around, stretch, jog or do calisthenics. Exercise fights fatigue.
  • In addition to exercise breaks, stop for light meals and snacks. Never drink alcohol and drive.

Smart Driving

Stay Rested - Drivers who are sleepy or fatigued demonstrate the same impaired judgment and decreased reaction times as drunk drivers.

driver fatigue1
Driver Fatigue
  • If possible, don't drive alone. Passengers can take turns driving and also serve as conversation partners to keep you awake.
  • Try not to drive when you would normally be asleep (early mornings and late nights).
  • On long trips, plan to stay somewhere overnight.
  • The glare of lights, both on your dashboard and outside your car, increases the danger of highway hypnosis.
  • Turn the radio volume up, and switch stations frequently, but avoid soft, sleep-inducing music.
  • Adjust your car's environment so that it helps keep you awake and alert. Keep the temperature cool.
  • Don’t use cruise control - keep your body involved with the driving.
  • Drive with good posture - with your head up and shoulders back.
actual accounts1

STOP! You May Be Too Tired To Drive

Actual Accounts

More than 100,000 auto crashes in the US each year are the result of driver fatigue. All could have been prevented.

be a driving force for safety1
Be a driving force for safety ...

Smart Driving

When being approached by an emergency vehicle, pull to the right shoulder of the road and stop. Put on your hazard lights to allow others to see you better.

using your signals
Using Your Signals

State law now requires that you use your headlights anytime you are using your windshield wipers.

The use of headlights is important - not only to see, but to be seen.

As a driver and roadway user, there is a good likelihood that at some point you’ll have to communicate a breakdown or accident. Use your four-way emergency flashers – they serve as a warning so others don’t pull off at the same spot.

Make your presence known - use your horn to indicate a potential risk or to let another driver know you are there.

A car is visible for nearly four times the distance with its headlights on.

using your signals1
Using Your Signals
  • In addition to speeding, the non-use of turn signals is one of the most frequent improper driving habits seen on our highways.
  • The non-use of turn signals when making a turn is against the law.
  • Turn signals are an important safety alert to other drivers that you are changing lanes or turning.
  • It’s important to use turn signals immediately before you want to turn and make certain they are canceled promptly after your turn.
  • Be safe and show off your manners …
  • … Use Your Turn Signals!

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”.

using your signals2


Using Your Signals

Here are the correct and incorrect ways to use your signals for communicating.

Turn Signals

Correct – when making turns, lane changes, entering roadway

Incorrect – forgetting to cancel, wrong way, too late, too early

Four-Way Emergency Flashers

Correct – when disabled, emergency stops on shoulder, when mechanical problems cause you to temporarily move slower than other traffic

Incorrect – failure to use in an emergency, using for normal driving

using your signals3
Using Your Signals

Brake Lights

Correct - To warn of traffic conflict ahead, when slowing unexpectedly, to signal a stop in traffic, when turning from a high-speed highway

Incorrect – Failure to pump (flash), flashing for routine stops, flashing too late, riding the brake


Correct – To get attention, to warn others, to pass

Incorrect – Failure to use, unnecessary use, blast instead of a toot and vice versa, using too late

Smart Driving

Drive to Communicate Always signal your intentions, and use your lights and horn when necessary to let others know you are there.

driver error
Driver Error
  • Driving is serious business.
  • Do not put yourself and others on the road at risk.
  • Your life and the lives of others are in your hands when you operate a vehicle.
  • If you become complacent about driving, you’re headed for trouble.
  • Stay alert and on guard at all times.

For most people, operating a motor vehicle is the most dangerous thing they do during each work day.

Smart Driving

Pay Attention!

“I never saw him!” is the most common excuse heard after a collision.

driver error1
Driver Error

The majority of serious vehicle related crashes are caused by:

  • Driver Inattention
  • Speeding
  • Following Too Closely, and
  • Failure To Yield

Note: Driver Inattention is responsible for as many crashes as all of the other three causes combined!

DRIVER ERROR is responsible in over 90% of all vehicle crashes!

This means that nearly all highway crashes are preventable.

driver inattention
Driver Inattention

Driver inattention is one of the main causes of crashes, 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.

Smart 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 inattention1
Driver Inattention
  • Driver Distractions
  • When behind the steering wheel, nothing is more important than driving. It can literally be a matter of life or death. Pull off to the side of the road (in a safe place) when you must do something other than driving.
  • Talking on a cell phone – this distraction can increase your chance of a collision by nearly 400%
  • Grooming (make up, shaving, combing hair, etc.)
  • Tuning the radio or selecting a new CD to play
  • Excessive volume from radio or passengers
  • Reading or writing - checking the map
  • Watching the children (in your personal vehicle of course)
  • Reaching for something on the floor or in the back seat
  • Dashboard Dining (eating and drinking on the road)

Smart Driving

Look Well Ahead, Searching and Scanning

Quick reactions won't always stop you having an accident. Spotting and responding to problems ahead in plenty of time will.

driver inattention2
Driver Inattention

Smart Driving

The article at the right is partially correct regarding a driver’s Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC). “Driving while Under the Influence” (DUI) is .08 or more BAC.

In Maryland you can also be arrested and convicted at a lesser BAC - “Driving While Impaired” (DWI) is .07 or more, but less than .08 BAC.

More on this subject later in the program.

driver inattention3
Driver Inattention
  • In addition to obeying traffic laws, responsible drivers do all that they can to avoid crashes. More often than not, this means looking out for other drivers who are less responsible.
  • This includes...
  • Taking extra caution at intersections.
  • Staying out of blind spots (especially truck drivers).
  • Being prepared to stop or swerve suddenly to avoid a collision.
  • Thinking ahead - Are there children playing in the area? What's around the bend?
just drive
Just Drive









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 a crash, and

… the greater the chance of serious bodily injury or being killed in a crash.

Smart Driving

#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.

actual accounts2
Actual Accounts

Mustang Rear Ended at 130 mph

My fiancé and I were on our way home from the beach about 7 p.m. On July 30th.We were traveling at 60 mph when we were struck from behind by a driver who the State Police estimate was going 130 mph.

We were both ejected from the car. My fiancé landed on the side of the highway 100 ft from the car and I landed in the center travel lane. I suffered multiple skull fractures, a fractured spine and multiple lacerations, and my fiancé, well lets just say he was lucky enough not to receive what I did.

Our seat belts were ripped from the floor behind us and both doors were bent out from the force of the rear wheels. I sure miss my Mustang, but I miss my health, ability to work and a lot of other things more than the car.

Smart Driving

Drive in a way that suits your ability and the traffic conditions.It doesn't impress anyone if you drive fast.

following distance
Following Distance

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:

  • Choose a fixed road mark, such as a road sign;
  • Start to count as the vehicle ahead of you passes the road sign;
  • You should not reach the object before you count to one-thousand-two. If you do, you are following too close.
following distance1
Following Distance

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.

The Two Second Rule

As your speed increases, so does the time and distance required to brake to a stop. At 55 miles per hour, you need nearly four to five seconds to stop.

Remember at all times the importance of adjusting speed. What you can and cannot see should influence your speed. Allowing at least four to five seconds to come to a complete stop is a good general rule of thumb.

NOTE: Adverse weather of any kind - rain, fog, snow, or sleet requires additional following distance.

Smart Driving

When stopped behind another vehicle, you should be able to see the rear tires of the vehicle in front of you. This creates a cushion of safety between you and the vehicle in front of you.

following distance2
Following Distance

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.

failure to yield
Failure To Yield

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.

Approximately forty percent of all traffic crashes occur at intersections.

This triangular sign means what it says. It tells you to give the right-of-way to all vehicles and/or pedestrians near you. Slow down to a safe speed and stop if necessary. It doesn't mean hit the gas or muscle your way into traffic.

You may also see Yield signs on expressway ramps. They are posted when there is no extra lane where drivers may speed up to join with expressway traffic.

If there is no Yield sign, the rules of the road dictate that cars entering the roadway always yield to those on the roadway, and cars making a left-hand turn must yield to oncoming traffic. At an intersection with four-way Stop signs, the first one to arrive has the right of way. Otherwise, yield to the car on your right.

It's the Law in Maryland:

Yield to the Right at 4-Way Stop Signs.

At all intersections controlled with 4-way Stop signs in Maryland, the vehicle that arrives first may proceed through the intersection. Drivers must first stop at the Stop sign. If more than one of you arrive at the Stop signs at approximately the same time, you must yield to the vehicle to your right. That motorist proceeds first.

failure to yield1
Failure To Yield

When Approaching an Intersection …

  • Cover the Brake - Covering the brake (with your foot hovering directly over the brake pedal) can cut up to three-fourths of a second off your reaction time to stop if needed.
  • Observe Yield Signs and Yellow Lights - Slow down to assess the intersection before deciding to stop or proceed through.
  • Delay Acceleration - When stopped at an intersection, make sure it is clear before you accelerate. If you are the first vehicle in line, scan left, right, straight ahead, and then left again before accelerating. If there is a vehicle ahead of you, count two seconds after you see it begin to move before accelerating.
  • Use the “Rule of Thirds” - In the first third of the block, accelerate to a safe and legal speed. In the second third of the block, maintain speed; signal if making a turn and get into the proper lane. In the final third of the block, cover the brake.

Smart Driving

Yield Anyway!

“Nobody ever yielded their way into a collision.”

Think about it. If you are in doubt about who has the right of way, give it away.

pedestrian safety
Pedestrian Safety

Follow all posted speed limits. When children are present near schools, the speed limit is usually lower than that of surrounding roadways. In residential areas, be alert for children who may be playing near the street. Children often dart out from between parked cars or shrubbery.

Be extra careful around school buses:

  • On undivided roadways, traffic in both directions is required to stop for a school bus stopped with its alternating red lights flashing.
  • In Maryland, and most other states, opposing traffic on a divided highway does not have to stop for a stopped school bus.
  • In Maryland you are required to stop at least twenty feet away from the bus.
  • Wait a few extra seconds after the bus is gone to make sure there are no children present.

Elderly pedestrians may not be able to cross quickly or hear you approaching. Give older adults plenty of time to cross the street.

Be alert when turning corners. If the car in front of you stops at a corner, be prepared for the possibility of pedestrians crossing.

Pedestrian injuries can be prevented. Take care to be a defensive pedestrian and a pedestrian alert driver.

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.

pedestrian safety1
Pedestrian Safety

Maryland Targets Pedestrian Safety

October 1, 2004

Two new Maryland laws designed to boost pedestrian safety take effect this fall — measures that school officials hope will help protect children as schools open across the state.

Under the new laws passed by the General Assembly, the maximum fine for drivers who fail to stop for a school bus with flashing lights activated rises from $500 to $1,000.

A minimum fine of $65 will be set for drivers who fail to stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk, with a maximum penalty of $500. Previously, there was no minimum fine.

Police officers who issue the citations also will 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!

bicycling in maryland
Bicycling in Maryland

Bicyclists Are Vehicle Operators

Bicycles are treated as vehicles in Maryland. Motorists must yield to cyclists in situations where 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.

Smart Driving

Give bicyclists at least three feet of space, they sometimes need to maneuver around potholes, opening car doors, and other obstacles.

merge with caution
Merge With Caution

It's the Law in Maryland

Always check for an opening early when merging onto a roadway. Do a head check first, to find a spot. Keep checking the traffic in front of you to make sure it is not slowing or stopping. Check your spot again, and merge into the traffic.

The “Yield” sign means exactly that, you must yield the right of way to the through traffic and stop if necessary. The through traffic is not required to yield to any entering traffic. Courtesy and responsibility is expected of all who use Maryland’s roadways.

Smart Driving

Pushing your way into traffic before you are supposed to is a form of aggressive driving. Drivers are not to merge into traffic until reaching the dashed white line.

pavement markings and passing
Pavement Markings and Passing

Pavement Markings

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.

Smart Driving

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.

navigating the road
Navigating the Road

When traveling in unfamiliar territory, interstate numbers give you valuable clues to your location and direction.

A. One or two digit even-numbered interstates are always east-west routes. The numbers increase from south (I-10) to north (I-80).

B. Odd-numbered one or two-digit interstates are north-south routes. Their numbers increase from the west coast (I-5) to the east coast (I-95).

C. Mile markers on interstates show the number of miles from where the route entered the state in which you are traveling. Their numbers increase as you travel east or north, and decrease as you go west or south.

D. Most states, including Maryland, link Interstate highway exit numbers to highway mile markers. For example, Exit 40 may be at or very close to mile marker 40.00.

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Actual Accounts

Intersection Crash - Germantown, Maryland

My name is Christine and this is my story …

Around noon one Friday in February 1999, my 3-year-old, Collin; my 5-year-old, Stephen; and I were on our way to their Grandma's house. As we approached the intersection, I kind of heard a voice saying the truck on the road to my right wasn't going to stop. I thought, "He's got a Stop sign, of course he's going to stop." But the truck ran the Stop sign and slammed into my minivan's passenger side. The truck pushed the van's middle seats up off the floorboard, and the grille was just six inches shy of hitting Stephen, who was on the van's back bench.

The truck driver helped me get out and helped the kids out. My nose was shattered. Collin, who was in his car seat in one of the middle seats, was wide eyed and shocked but OK. Stephen was bloody, pale and briefly unconscious, but he only had cuts and bruises, and his seat was buckled in tightly. Had he not been in a booster seat and buckled in right, he could have been thrown out the window.

A passerby took us to the hospital. When the police got to the hospital and asked me what happened, all I could say was, “ I went to a car seat check yesterday, and if I hadn't they'd be dead.”

It's really eerie why I went to the seat check that day. I took our brand-new van to the dealership and they said …"Hey, we see that you have child seats. We're having a seat check; why don't you come?” So, lucky for me I went and got their seats checked out and they got them in the van properly. It was like fate!!

preventing collisions
Preventing Collisions

Preventing Common Vehicle Collisions

The most frequent types of vehicle collisions can be placed in three categories:

  • Rear-end Collisions,
  • Collisions at Intersections, and
  • Backing Collisions

Putting a name on collisions is easy, preventing them is much more difficult. Prevention starts with education.

Let's look at the top three crash types and provide recommendations on how to avoid them.

Smart Driving

Throughout this training program you will hear many references to accidents, crashes, and collisions.

There is a very important distinction that must be made ...

If a collision occurs because of a driver’s inattention, it’s not really an accident! It’s a preventable crash/collision that was caused directly by the driver’s inattention.

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Preventing Collisions

Rear-End Collisions

Problem: Rear-end collisions are often the most costly type of crash and have the capacity to cause serious injuries. Most importantly, they are almost always preventable.

Under ideal road conditions, a car traveling at 65 mph needs close to the length of a football field to come to a complete stop safely.

Remember, stopping distance is based on three combined factors – Perception Distance, Reaction Distance and Braking Distance. Add rain or snow to this equation, and the distance increases dramatically.

Prevention: Maintaining a safe following distance under all road conditions is the key to preventing this type of accident. Under ideal road conditions, the "two-second rule" is the best way to keep a safe distance between two vehicles.

Smart Driving

When stopped, waiting to make a left hand turn at an intersection, keep your wheels straight until you start your turn. That way if you are struck from behind your vehicle won’t be pushed into oncoming traffic.

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Preventing Collisions

Crashes Occurring at Intersections

Problem: More than one out of every three crashes occurs at an intersection. The primary cause of these accidents is failure to yield the right of way.

Left-hand turns expose a vehicle and its passengers at the weakest point on the vehicle, the side doors, so extreme caution should be used when entering an intersection. Bumpers and front air bags do little to protect the passenger compartment in a side-impact collision.

Prevention: Because there is a higher probability of vehicle and pedestrian conflicts at intersections, special caution is demanded when approaching and crossing intersections, including slowing and yielding to others within the intersection.

Smart Driving

Beware of Intersections!

Intersections are one of the most dangerous areas for any driver.

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Preventing Collisions




Smart Driving

When you are stopped at a stop light, upon the light turning green, look both ways and count a minimum of two seconds before pulling through the intersection.

This serious crash is a graphic example of what can happen when a driver runs a red light.

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Preventing Collisions

Always be courteous and be prepared to yield the right of way at any intersection. At four-way stops, yield to vehicles that arrived first and always yield to pedestrians. If two vehicles arrive at the same time, the vehicle on the left should yield to the one on the right.

Beware of the "stale green" light, one that is green and will turn yellow, then red very quickly. Remember that yellow means "caution, prepare to stop," not "put the pedal to the metal."

When the light turns green, avoid the urge to accelerate immediately into the intersection. Take an extra second or two to scan left and right, and then left again to look for oncoming traffic.

Smart Driving

#1 - Green means GO

- Red means STOP

#2 - When a light turns green, look left, then right, straight ahead, then left again before proceeding through the light.

Notice all vehicles and ensure that someone else is not going to run the light.

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Preventing Collisions

Backing Collisions

Problem: Backing vehicles are responsible for a large number of crashes.

Prevention: The easiest way to prevent backing incidents is to avoid backing. If possible pull through a parking space, so that you can drive out later and avoid backing.

  • A driver should always walk around and look behind the vehicle before backing.
  • Ensure that the vehicle is equipped with sufficient mirrors to give the driver the best view of what is behind the vehicle.
  • Avoid making "Y" turns in driveways or roads.
  • Park in a location away from traveling or parked vehicles.

Smart Driving

Virtually all vehicles have blind spots. Where are your blind spots?

That depends on the vehicle. A car typically has blind areas at the sides near the rear of the vehicle.

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Preventing Collisions
  • Before backing, sound your horn with two quick beeps, check rear- and side-view mirrors, watch side clearances and then back slowly.

Reasons for the frequency of backing crashes:

Drivers fail to exercise the usual precautions, thinking that a backing crash is unlikely to result in personal injury.

Drivers may think that little damage is done, because the vehicle is being operated at low speed.

Drivers rely too heavily on their vehicle mirrors. Even with the best of mirrors and mirror arrangements, there are still blind spots to the sides of the vehicle and behind it.

Smart Driving

Most crashes can be avoided by staying alert, following at a safe distance, focusing on driving, and by being courteous.

high risk and at risk drivers
High-Risk and At-Risk Drivers
  • TEEN DRIVERS (High-Risk)
  • One in five teenage drivers has a crash in their first year of driving.
  • Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 3 to 33 year-olds.
  • For the teenage driver, the presence of one passenger almost doubles the risk of a fatal crash, compared to driving alone. With two or more passengers, the fatal crash risk is five times as high as driving alone.
  • Source: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Statistics are nationwide.

The fatality rate for teenage drivers is about four times as high as the rate for drivers 25 to 69 years of age.

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High-Risk and At-Risk Drivers

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.

Smart Driving

Wear your seat belt! Without a doubt, seat belts are the most significant safety device ever invented.

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High-Risk and At-Risk Drivers

Here are some practical tips for helping teens to drive safely …

Be a role model - Always wear your seat belt, follow the rules of the road, and drive safely and responsibly.

Talk to your teen - Talk to your child about the risks on the road. Make it clear that you're concerned and available.

Create a contract - Studies show that when parents and teens agree what the driving rules are, there's a lower level of risk on the road.

Monitor your teen’s activities - While your child may not be a risk-taker, some of his or her friends may be. Know where your teen is going and with whom.

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High-Risk and At-Risk Drivers

Older Drivers (At-Risk)

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 as a result of physiologic changes and an increase in diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and stroke.

Hearing is also a very important primary sense utilized in driving. Hearing loss includes the inability to hear high-pitched sounds which can be due to poorly maintained or incorrectly worn hearing aids. Uncorrected hearing loss leads to inattentive driving.

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High-Risk and At-Risk Drivers

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.

Declines in these functions make older drivers vulnerable to crashes in complex situations that require good visual perception, attention, and rapid response.

traffic control signage
Traffic Control Signage

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 blue provide 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.

Smart Driving

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.

traffic control signage left exits
Traffic Control Signage- Left exits

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.

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Traffic Control Signage

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.

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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.

aggressive driving
Aggressive Driving

What is Aggressive Driving?

Aggressive driving is the operation of a motor vehicle in a manner that endangers or is likely to endanger persons or property. The reported number of aggressive driving incidents has increased in the past few years. This increase has resulted in an increased number of people killed and injured on our roadways.

Smart Driving

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.

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Aggressive Driving

Characteristics of Aggressive Drivers:

  • Speeding
  • Following too closely/tailgating
  • Running red lights and Stop signs
  • Changing lanes without signaling, cutting off vehicles
  • Weaving in and out of traffic
  • Passing on the shoulder of the road
  • Slamming on brakes in front of a tailgater
  • Making rude gestures and shouting
  • Repeatedly honking the horn or flashing of headlights
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Aggressive Driving

If you encounter an angry or aggressive driver:

  • Avoid eye contact.
  • Don't react to gestures and don't return them.
  • Do not underestimate the other driver’s potential for aggression.
  • Get out of the way – do not engage an aggressive driver in any way.
  • If a driver is too close, safely move out of the way and let the vehicle pass.
  • “FIDO” - Forget it and drive on.
  • Keep enough space between you and the vehicle in front of you to pull out from behind it if necessary.
  • Keep your doors locked and your windows up.
  • Report aggressive drivers to the appropriate authorities by providing a vehicle description, license number, location, and if possible direction of travel. In Maryland and a number of other states,if you have a cell phone and can do it safely, you can report aggressive or impaired drivers to the police by calling # 77.
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Aggressive Driving

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:

  • Obey the speed limit.
  • Be patient and courteous to other drivers.
  • Do not drive when angry, overtired, or upset.
  • Use your turn signals.
  • Be realistic about your travel time. Allow extra time for possible delays.
  • If you’re going to be late, deal with it. Take a deep breath and accept the delay.
  • When possible, change your schedule to avoid congestion.
  • Give other drivers the benefit of the doubt - all drivers make mistakes.
  • Avoid all conflict, even if you are right.
  • Last, but not least, count from 1-10 (it's old, but it works!)
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Aggressive Driving

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.


SAN JOSE, California, July 13, 2001 - A California judge has thrown the book at a man who killed a dog in a fit of road rage.

Andrew Burnett received the maximum three-year prison sentence Friday from a judge who ignored recommendation for probation. Burnett, 27, was convicted June 20 for the death of a fluffy white Bichon Frise named Leo.

Judge sentenced Burnett to the maximum possible for felony animal cruelty. "It's a case of rage-induced violence," the judge said. "I believe that prison can send a message and it can deter.“

McBurnett sobbed last month when she testified during the trial how Burnett snatched Leo from her lap, pulled him out through her open car window and tossed him into the lanes of traffic, where the dog was struck and killed.

"Words can never convey the depth of love I had for my dog" McBurnett testified Friday. "His clear intent was to terrorize me in the fastest and clearest way he could under the circumstances."

The incident occurred after a Feb. 11, 2000, fender bender between Burnett and McBurnett near the San Jose airport.

Aggressive driving leads to Road Rage.

are you a dangerous driver
Are You A Dangerous Driver?

If you answer yes to any of the following questions, you could be a dangerous driver …

When you reach a Stop sign and no one is coming from another direction, do you roll through instead of stopping?

Do you talk on the cell phone while driving instead of pulling off and stopping to talk?

Do you take your coffee and muffin or other food and drink on the road with you, driving with one hand while using the other to eat?

If you're out shopping in a crowded area and are looking for a parking space, do you become so focused on your search that you lose sight of the cars and pedestrians around you?

Do you hate driving behind SUVs or other large vehicles that obstruct your view?

Smart Driving

Get Out Of The Left Lane!

#1 - Whether you are in a car or in a truck, when you are through passing, get out of the left lane!  It only breeds frustration when drivers just ride in the left lane for no reason. 

#2 - Avoid the hassle of left lane driving.  Because that's where road rage is thriving. Have you tried the right lane lately? It's slower, safer, and smarter.

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Are You A Dangerous Driver?

Does your driving change when you go into areas with higher police presence?

Does listening to music while you drive sometimes leave you oblivious to all but the music?

Do you find yourself in confrontations on the road, either through verbal arguments or hand gestures, because of either your own driving habits or the habits of others?

Does your "work hard, play hard" lifestyle leave you sleepy behind the wheel at times?

When you're driving with passengers, do you turn around to talk, taking your eyes and mind off the road?

If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, take some time to reflect on your response and ask yourself how you are going to change your dangerous driving habit.

driving defensively
Driving Defensively

A Defensive Driver …

… commits no driving errors and makes all reasonable allowances for the lack of skill or improper driving practices of other drivers.

… adjusts driving to compensate for unusual weather, road, and traffic conditions, and is not tricked into an accident by the unsafe actions of pedestrians and other drivers.

… remains alert to crash inducing situations, recognizes the need for preventive action in advance and takes the necessary precautions to prevent the crash.

… knows when it is necessary to slow down, stop, or yield right-of-way to avoid involvement.

Smart Driving

#1 - Be courteous, even when other drivers are not. Retaliating won't get you where you're going any sooner. 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.

hazardous driving conditions
Hazardous Driving Conditions

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.

inclement weather
Inclement weather

Drive for the conditions. Slower speeds allow more time to react if something unexpected happens on the road.

If you must travel during adverse weather conditions, prepare to leave early and allow plenty of time to reach your destination.

If conditions look bad, get off the road. Use your best judgment and listen to weather reports and warnings.

During inclement weather, if it is necessary to reduce speed, you’ll want to press lightly on the brake so you can maintain steering. When making sudden moves it's much easier to lose control of your vehicle.

Smart Driving

If your front and side windows become fogged up during rainy weather, turn on your air conditioning along with setting your vents to defrost mode. Air-conditioned air is dry and helps clear a foggy windshield faster.

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Inclement Weather

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.

Smart Driving

When driving in cold, but sunny weather, icy patches tend to linger in areas shaded by trees and on bridges. Watch out for them.

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Hazardous Driving Conditions

Stopping Times

- 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.

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Hazardous Driving Conditions

Use extra caution when approaching elevated structures such as bridges, because they usually freeze first.

Be aware of black ice, a thin layer of transparent ice that forms when the temperature is around the freezing point. Signs that patches of black ice may have formed on the road include ice build-up on mirror arms, the antenna or on the top corners of your windshield. Also, be wary of black ice when you no longer see spray from the tires of other vehicles, but the road still looks slightly wet.

Keep a firm grip on your steering wheel. Ruts in a snow covered road, heavy wind or ice may force you to make sudden, sharp moves that could cause you to lose control of your vehicle.

Smart Driving

When roads are icy, they tend to get extra smooth and slippery near stop signs where braking car tires melt the ice and it refreezes again.

For extra traction when approaching stop signs, drive slightly to one side so your tires are on the rougher ice where less cars have driven over.

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Actual Accounts

Black Ice Incident

Two weeks after buying my 2001 Pathfinder I lost control in black ice and went off the road at a speed of somewhere around 60 miles an hour. Most of the crash is still a blur.

Three months later I am still not walking and not expected to for another month or so - broken tibia and fibula in my right leg and broken radius in my left arm.

Take my advice when driving in the winter, slow down when the roads are slick and watch carefully for black ice conditions.

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Hazardous Driving Conditions

Beware of the Dark

Although there is much less traffic, more than half of all accidents 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.

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Hazardous Driving Conditions

• 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.

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Hazardous Driving Conditions

Foggy Conditions

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:

  • Keep your minimum safety gap to two seconds in ideal conditions; with the decreased visibility fog causes, this interval should be increased substantially, three to four times.
  • Slow down. Most fog-related traffic fatalities occur because someone was driving too fast and couldn't stop in time to avoid a collision.
  • Make sure that you can be seen. Turn on your fog lights, and use low beams. High beams direct light up into the fog making it difficult for you to see. Low beams direct light down onto the road and help other drivers to see you.
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Hazardous Driving Conditions
  • If you leave the road, be sure to pull off completely. Turn off your driving lights and turn on your four-way emergency flashers so others know you're there, but won't think you are driving on the road.
  • Always use your defroster and windshield wipers to keep the windows clear.
  • Keep an eye on your speedometer and maintain a slow, constant speed.
  • Remember that other drivers have a limited sight distance and that fog can leave roadways slick. Signal early, and when you use your brakes, use them gently.

Smart Driving

Slow down and leave wider spaces between you and other drivers when you encounter bad weather, glare, narrow/twisting roads and low light conditions.


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

Smart Driving

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.

medical conditions
Medical Conditions

Medical Conditions

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.

  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Anxiety
  • Heart Disease
  • Epilepsy
  • Drug & Alcohol Addictions
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BWI Airport's crash truck blasts foam on the fire and surrounding area.

Actual Accounts

Horrific I-95 Crash - January 14, 2004

A fiery crash involving a tanker carrying a flammable liquid that plunged off a highway overpass yesterday on Interstate 95 south of Baltimore killing five motorists.

“It was a horrific scene,” said Chuck Gischlar, a State Highway Administration spokesman. "There was fire everywhere. It was terrible there.”

Just before 3 p.m., the tanker hit a utility pole on the Interstate 895 overpass, then plunged onto I-95. The tanker landed in the northbound lanes, igniting the fire that spread into the southbound lanes and woods of Patapsco State Park.

Dwane Roberts, a Baltimore truck driver saw the tanker flip and crash onto the road below. “The people in the cars never had a chance,” he said.

Medical Condition?

It was reported that a witness stated seeing the tanker driver slumped over the steering wheel of his truck seconds before it left the road.

alcohol drugs
Alcohol & Drugs

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.

Smart Driving

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.

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Alcohol & Drugs

The amount of alcohol in your body is commonly measured by the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC). BAC is determined by the amount of alcohol you drink (more alcohol means higher BAC), how fast you drink (faster drinking means higher BAC), and your weight (a small person doesn’t have to drink as much to reach the same BAC).

Even a BAC as low as 0.02% (one drink) will register a difference in a person’s reaction time. 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.

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Alcohol & Drugs

Supposed remedies such as exercise, drinking coffee, fruit juice or water, taking a cold shower or deep breaths of fresh air won't lower your BAC. Time is the only way to clear alcohol from the blood stream.

Alcohol affects individuals differently. Your BAC may be affected by your age, gender, physical condition, amount of food consumed and any drugs or medication.

In addition, different drinks may contain different amounts of alcohol, so it's important to know how much and the concentration of alcohol you consume.

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.

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Alcohol & Drugs


DWI or Controlled Substance Violations

Operators charged with such violations shall have the privilege of operating State vehicles or equipment suspended immediately regardless of the total point value determined by the Driver Evaluation Point System.

The suspension shall remain in effect until the individual has completed instruction or action as recommended by the agency Accident Review Board and approved by the agency head.

In addition, the agency’s Accident Review Board will determine any other corrective action that shall apply to the operator, such as assessment for damages to the State-owned property or vehicles.

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Alcohol & Drugs

“A relatively small number of irresponsible and intoxicated individuals are endangering the rest of us on the roads," said Richard J. Miller, Manager of AAA Community Safety Services. “Unfortunately, these high-risk drivers are slipping through the cracks and escaping punishment.”

Among other findings are:

  • Two-thirds of drivers with suspended licenses continue to drive;
  • More than half of all drivers arrested for driving while intoxicated are repeat offenders;
  • There is less than a one-in-50 chance that a drunk driver will be arrested on any given drunk-driving trip.

Unlicensed and habitually drunk drivers are among the greatest safety threats on the nation’s highways, according to two studies by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Specifically, habitually drunk drivers make up 40 percent of all drinking-driving trips, while unlicensed drivers are almost five times more likely to be in fatal crashes than drivers with a valid driver’s license.

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Actual Accounts

Fatal Corolla Accident - Drunk Driving

I volunteer for a local EMS/Fire department, and we responded to a call for a accident on 07/04/2004 at 1:30 am. When I arrived on scene in my personal vehicle I found a lady in her early 20's sitting in the front passenger seat of this Toyota Corolla.

Her husband was Dead On Scene - I checked several times. She on the other hand was still breathing, unconscious, and bleeding from her forehead, nose, mouth, left ankle, and right wrist. The lady was riding with her left leg crossed over her right and upon the impact with the other vehicle the dashboard was crushed inward with such impact that her left femur fractured and pushed her left foot up to her face. She had an approximately 4-5" worth of a gash across her forehead. I also noticed that on her right wrist was an open fracture to her radius and ulna (2 bones in your arm). About two incredibly long minutes had passed when the rest of the crew arrived with the Jaws and the ambulance.

It took what seemed like 15-20 minutes to extricate her from the car. She was airlifted to the hospital where she later died of her injuries.

This vehicle was tossed backwards 107 feet from the point of impact. Suspected speeds were combined to reach over 145 mph. The people in this vehicle hadn’t been drinking. The man who was at fault had been. The couple left behind a 6 year-old daughter.

All I can say is please be safe, and DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE!

commercial vehicle awareness
Commercial Vehicle Awareness

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.

Its been determined that drivers who are involved in fatal crashes probably drive the same way around trucks as they do around other vehicles. Listed below are five driving behaviors that were factors in most of the fatal crashes:

  • Failing to stay in the lane or running off the road;
  • Failing to yield the right of way;
  • Driving too fast for conditions or above the speed


  • Failing to obey signs and signals; and
  • Driver inattention.

Smart Driving

Stay Clear of Trucks

Never, drive beside a large truck for long periods of time. It is extremely dangerous.

Wind turbulence around a truck can push you off the road or pull you into the truck.

Also, when a tire blows on an eighteen wheeler at high speed it’s like an explosion and has caused very serious injury and even death to the occupants of adjacent vehicles.

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Commercial Vehicle Awareness

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.

Smart Driving

No matter how young or old you are,how big or small you are, how smart or not-so-smart you are, how rich or poor you are,you will die with 80,000 pounds of truck on top of you.  

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Commercial Vehicle Awareness

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. More than 60 percent of fatal truck crashes involve the front of the truck.

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.

Smart Driving

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!  

driving in work zones
Driving In Work Zones

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:

  • New traffic patterns
  • Narrow lanes
  • Lane shifts
  • Lane closures
  • Pavement drop-offs
  • Reduced sight distance
  • Detours
  • Slow moving equipment

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.

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Driving In Work Zones

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.

choose safety for life


Choose Safety for Life

CHOOSE SAFETY FOR LIFE in memory of those whose lives have been lost in traffic crashes.

Remember you CAN prevent traffic crashes and you can raise awareness of safe driving, walking and biking just with conversations with friends and family members.

Be a driving force for safety, because we care about you!

Remember the five keys to roadway safety in B-SAFE:

Buckle up

Slow down – speeding kills

Always drive sober


Everyone share the road – Everyone gets home!

For more information log onto:


I’m a driving force for safety.

Be A Driving Force for SafetyCertificate of Completion

is hereby granted to:


For completion of the

Driver Improvement Program

Insert Date