Safe passing requires rapid decision-making and good judgment. Passing other vehicles on the road is often a dangerous maneuver. Visibility and vehicle responsiveness, among other things, are essential. The following should be observed:
A. It is unsafe and against the law for any vehicle to pass another vehicle using the left side of the roadway when the view is obstructed within 100 feet of any bridge, viaduct, or tunnel, or when approaching within 100 feet of or traversing any intersection or railroad grade crossing. A vehicle may pass on the right side if the vehicle to be passed is making or about to make a left turn, upon a highway, within a business or residential district with unobstructed pavement of sufficient width for two or more lanes of moving vehicles in the direction of travel, or on a one-way street. In no instance should a vehicle be driven off the paved or main roadway. When can you use the left side of the road to pass another vehicle?
B. Fatal collisions often occur when passing is attempted on a mountain road. It is against the law to pass to the left on a mountain, when approaching or upon the crest of a grade or curve of a highway, or where the driver's view is obstructed within such distance as to create a hazard in the event another vehicle might approach from the opposite direction. Additionally, no vehicle shall pass another vehicle on a grade unless the passing vehicle is traveling at least 10 mph faster than the overtaken vehicle (without exceeding the speed limit), or unless the maneuver can be completed in a distance not greater than 1/4 of a mile. When driving on mountain roads, be aware of the potential for vehicle overheating or brake failure, the need for proper gear choices, and the need for lower speeds. When driving at high altitudes, a vehicle is prone to overheating and vapor lock. A vapor lock is a pocket of vaporized gasoline in the fuel line of an internal-combustion engine that obstructs the normal flow of fuel.
Special Note...If you are being passed, don't insist on taking the right-of-way. Allow the other driver to pass and use common sense.
Trucks are powerful and heavy, often weighing four to five times that of a typical car. An unloaded truck is equipped with up to eight mirrors, but trucks still are involved in many traffic collisions. Motor vehicle operators lack a general respect for trucks, often tailgating them or becoming caught between the truck and the curb. A driver should also be aware of the truck's blind spots. Studies have shown that a tractor-trailer truck traveling at 55 mph will typically need twice the stopping distance of an automobile traveling at the same speed. Special care must be given when driving near trucks on the Expressway. Trucks should be given extra clearance whenever possible, with the automobile driver always leaving an escape option on the road. Drivers must be aware of a truck's blind spots at all times, realizing a truck's rear-view and side mirrors are not always sufficient. A common blind spot for a truck driver exists near the right front wheel of the truck. Another common blind spot is within 30 ft. of the rear of the trailer. As a result, motorists should never tailgate a truck, pass to the right of a truck, or drive parallel to a truck for any length of time.
SMART RULE #1...If you cannot clearly see the truck’s side view mirrors, the truck driver probably cannot see you!
A. Trucks making wide turns account for many collisions as cars are often sandwiched between the truck and curb. Drivers must respect the wide turns required by trucks.
B. Trucks are rarely allowed to travel over 55 mph, so they usually stay in slower traffic lanes. The higher the truck's weight and the higher the truck's speed, the longer the stopping distance.
C. Slow trucks often carry full loads of cargo and lack the power to keep up with the flow of traffic. Drivers should never tailgate a truck, but simply change lanes when safe to do so.
The figures below are for the State of Indiana. Some national statistics are included for comparison purposes.
1. In 2004, 166 large trucks were involved in fatal crashes. Nationwide, 4,862 trucks were involved in fatal collisions.
2. Nearly one out of six Indiana traffic fatalities in 2004 (157 of 947, or 16.6%) resulted from a collision involving a large truck. Nationwide, 12.2% of all traffic fatalities involved a large truck (5,190 of 42,636).
3. In 2004, 27 occupants of large trucks were killed in traffic collisions, representing 17.2% of all truck-related fatalities.
4. Non-truck occupants accounted for 114 fatalities in 2004, or 72.6% of the total truck-related fatalities.
5. Trucks can outweigh passenger vehicles by up to forty times, and for this reason the change in velocity is almost always sustained by the passenger vehicle.
6. Approximately 10.2% of fatalities in truck collisions were nonoccupants (pedestrians, bicyclists, etc.) in 2004.
A vehicle should always be in good working order. Preventative maintenance should provide for fewer unexpected mechanical failures. If the vehicle is poorly cared for, it cannot respond properly, making quick reaction time useless. A proper maintenance time table should be followed, with brakes and tires the primary focus. In addition, check and replace worn or cracked belts and hoses. An emergency such as a blowout, car stall, or brake failure can often be avoided if the car is properly maintained.
Collision avoidance and emergency driving techniques don't just rely on a quick reaction time and skill behind the wheel. An important element, as stressed numerous times throughout this curriculum, is properly maintaining all essential vehicle control mechanisms. The tires, in particular, are the vehicle's connection to the surface. Driving on balding tires or those without any tread whatsoever would be analogous to a person attempting to walk on ice. The task is both difficult and dangerous. A driver must keep the tires rotated and inflated to the manufacturer's suggested levels, ensure there is adequate and sufficient tread, and periodically check the tires for distress. These precautions will allow your tires to wear evenly, stick to the road better, and corner better in snow, rain, and ice conditions.
NOTE: It is imperative to get a tune-up at least twice a year or according to the car's maintenance schedule.
The following is a list of things you should do before you enter your vehicle and before you leave, whether it is a short trip to the grocery store or a long trip out of town:
D. Post-Trip Inspection- The following are a few things to keep in mind after a drive: