Various natural and environmental factors affect the driving task and contribute to accident potential. Knowing the effects of each of these factors can help during driving.
A. Kinetic Energy (momentum) – An increase in driving speed requires an increase for that vehicle in stopping distance, as the vehicle has gained more momentum. Allowing enough stopping distance for the vehicle is the only sure way to offset the momentum of the vehicle.
B. Impact – At impact in a car accident, the “G” or gravitational forces in a collision are astronomical. Consequently, a driver must make all efforts to stay in the car, buckled in their seat belt to survive the force of the impact. These “G” forces, if in effect for longer than a millisecond, would tear apart a human being. In an accident, these forces are impacted on the driver for only a fraction of a second, but still contain enormous power. Staying secured in the driver compartment is the safest place to be at all times.
It is vital for all drivers to be aware of the environment in which they travel, other drivers around them and the vehicle they control.
A. “Rear-Ender” – This is the most common accident type and is nearly always the fault of the car in the rear. Drivers who tailgate do not leave enough stopping distance between themselves and the vehicle they immediately follow. The rear-end collision is often the result of following too closely but can be prevented by signaling early for all turns, stops and lane changes. It is also a good idea to frequently check the traffic behind your vehicle, and if tailgated, change lanes immediately. A driver should be aware of tailgaters or large vehicles following too closely or gaining rapidly from behind, and take appropriate action to avoid conflict.
– Attempt to warn the driver behind you by tapping your brakes.
– If no other options are available, press your brake pedal and prepare for impact.
– Keep a firm grip on the steering wheel. Chances are you may be pushed forward or even sideways and will still need to maintain control.
– Your seat belt will prevent your face and upper torso from hitting the steering wheel or windshield. Most cars today have headrests. This will help minimize the whiplash factor.
B. Front or Side Collision
1. From the Front – If your vehicle is going to be hit from the front, be prepared to do the following: Use your arms or hands to protect your face and throw yourself across the seat to avoid hitting the steering wheel or windshield if you do not have a shoulder harness on.
2. From the side
– If possible, avoid head-on collisions and the inevitable impact. Attempt to maneuver so the approaching vehicle hits your car from the side.
– Be careful when protecting your face. For example, air bag devices deploy in front-end impacts at approximately 35 mph. Use caution when placing your hands in front of your face as the air bag could push your hands into your face (The shoulder strap of your seat belt will prevent your face from hitting the dashboard).
– Use the steering wheel to brace yourself and try to avoid being thrown against the side of your car.
C. Light Rain / First Rain – The first rain often leads to a dangerous condition in which to operate a motor vehicle. The first rain lifts the oil up from the road surface, yet does not completely wash away the slippery substance. Many drivers are generally unwilling to slow their speed to a level that the first rain requires. Light rain tends to be ignored by people who continue driving as if the roads were clear and dry. The light rain makes the road slick and simply does not provide enough water to wash away all the accumulated oil and debris. Speed should be dramatically reduced with extra stopping distance allowed and extreme caution exercised. It is important to remember that when road conditions and surfaces change, braking distance and traction change as well.
D. One-Way Streets - In order to eliminate confusion in heavily traveled areas and to keep the flow of traffic moving, one-way streets are becoming more and more common. One-way streets often pose unique dangers to drivers. Wrong way drivers are common, as are other motorists making turns from unsafe lanes. Drivers should be aware of how to properly enter and exit one-way streets and be prepared to slow dramatically if necessary. Always choose the safest lane.
- The leading cause of freeway accidents is “FOLLOWING TOO CLOSELY.
- 50% of all accidents are caused by drivers 16 – 24 years of age.
- 24% of all accident fatalities involve drivers 16 – 24 years of age.
Sample Test Questions
1. What is the most common accident type:
2. ___ % of accidents are caused by drivers 16 – 24 years of age.