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TOPIC: Driving Risks and Driver Responsibility
SECTION: Recognizing the Risks of Driving

When you engage in risky behavior while driving, the stakes are as high as can be. From the moment you get behind the wheel, the risk you ultimately face in every situation is that you’ll be involved in a serious collision. While there’s nothing you can do to eliminate these risks entirely, you can reduce them significantly by adopting safe driving habits. Pay attention to the road, predict potential problems, and make decisions that will keep you and other drivers safe.Sometimes you’ll be faced with a risk that is immediate: a car changing lanes at an unsafe speed into or through your lane, a car merging at a speed much slower than the flow of traffic, or a car that fails to yield at an intersection. To respond to Immediate Risks like these, you must remain alert ready to respond immediately. In addition to being prepared for the occasional immediate risk, you must also look out for Potential Risks on the roadway. Some risks will be more likely to occur than others, but you should identify them all so you’re prepared for anything. For example, while you won’t often encounter children playing in the road, you should watch for children whenever you drive in a residential area or near a school. Be ready to respond if a child suddenly darts in front of you.High-risk situations often occur when a driver fails to consider the conflicts with other road users that may result because of his or her actions. Such situations aren’t necessarily due to carelessness. For instance, inexperienced drivers may be so focused on the road ahead that they ignore bicyclists or pedestrians on the side of the road. It’s essential that you anticipate all potential conflicts and attempt to prevent or avoid them.The best way to reduce risk is to train yourself to always drive cautiously. As a cautious driver, you must always understand and abide by all traffic laws, maintain your car in proper working order, adjust your driving to current weather and environmental conditions, remain constantly aware of other drivers on the road, and make sure any driving maneuver you begin can be completed safely.In short, a cautious driver recognizes potential problems on the road and responds accordingly. If you fail to drive cautiously, you may become the potential problem endangering other drivers. On the next slide, you will have to decide the proper way to respond to a potential risk on the roadway.As illustrated in the previous slide, you must identify every potential risk on the road and drive prudently for any situation that might occur. If you only focus on a car stopped ahead of you, you may not notice other drivers maneuvering until it’s too late. Even when you think you’re being cautious, you may be ignoring something. Reducing risk requires you to anticipate all the potential consequences of every decision you make behind the wheel.

A Leading Cause of Death

Motor vehicle collisions are one of the leading causes of death in the United States. In fact, in 2013, traffic collisions represented the leading cause of death for people between 15 and 24, and one of the top five causes of death for all people under 45.According to the NHTSA, there were almost 5.7 million traffic collisions in the United States in 2013. This is an average of more than 15,500 collisions a day, or one collision every six seconds. More than one in every 60 Americans was involved in a motor vehicle collision in 2013. Overall, these collisions resulted in more than 2.3 million injuries nationwide. This suggests that approximately 40% of collisions involve some degree of injury.In 2013, there were a total of 30,057 fatal traffic collisions, resulting in a total of 32,719 fatalities. That’s the equivalent of 90 people dying in a car crash every day. On average, one person dies every 16 minutes in a motor vehicle collision. In the time it takes you to drive to school or the grocery store, someone will die in a car crash. Don’t let it be you!In 2013: While 56% of all drivers involved in collisions were male, male drivers represented 74% of drivers in fatal crashes. 36% of drivers in fatal collisions had some amount of alcohol in their bodies. Fatal collisions were most likely between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., and least likely between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m.In 2013: Nearly 50% of all fatal crashes occurred in zones with a 55 mph or greater speed limit, even though only 20% of all collisions occurred at those speed limits. About 57% of fatal crashes involved only one motor vehicle. Almost 50% of people who died in collisions were not wearing seat belts. 3,408 Texans were killed in a car crash in 2013, almost 45% of whom weren’t wearing a seat belt. 16,807 Texans were seriously injured in a collision.

A Responsible Driving Attitude

For every chain of events that leads to a collision, there is always a "first cause." Think of a chain of events like a row of dominoes: it takes just one domino to tip over to cause the whole row to fall in sequence. When driving, your attitude represents the first domino. The same conditions that can produce a chain of events ending in a collision can just as easily result in a positive outcome as long as you avoid tipping the domino the wrong way.If you have a mature driving attitude that demonstrates care and caution, you have what it takes to respond to potentially dangerous situations and prevent additional dominoes from falling. By paying attention to the driving environment, you can see problems ahead of time and react properly. If even a single domino tips over because you have an immature attitude, the whole series may topple and a collision may result.The risk you face as a driver can be affected by the reliability and type of vehicle you’re operating, as well as by environmental factors like the weather and the condition of the highway. However, in almost every case, preventing a collision is ultimately up to the driver. Knowing when not to drive, when to ask your passengers to be quiet, and how to recognize and avoid dangerous drivers can save your life and the lives of others.According to the NHTSA, collisions are caused by one of three factors: the actions of the driver, the condition of the roadway, and the condition of the vehicle being driven. The study suggests that a failure of the driver to act appropriately was the ultimate cause of 94% of collisions. The study also indicated that only 2% of collisions are the result of conditions in the driving environment, and only 2% are the result of a vehicle malfunction. (In 2% of the cases studied, the ultimate cause of the crash was unknown.)A study by the NHTSA further classified the common driver errors that contribute to collisions into four major categories: Recognition errors, which have to do with the driver’s attentiveness to the road Decision errors, which have to do with the driver’s evaluation of the driving situation Performance errors, like poor directional control and overcompensation Non-performance errors, like sleep or a heart attackThe chart on the next slide shows the frequency of each type of driver error. Which of the following do you think contributes the most to collisions? Recognition Decision Performance Non-performanceAlways remember your responsibilities as a driver and be in the right condition to drive. If you act carelessly, whether out of ignorance of or indifference to the consequences, you could cause a serious collision. Cultivating good driving habits and getting rid of bad ones are the best ways to avoid tickets and collisions. The chances of a collision may be reduced by always being alert, driving defensively, and acting in time.Decision-making is the most crucial driving skill you’ll ever learn. When you develop the ability to see the potential risks in any driving situation, you’ll be able to make risk-reducing decisions in an unsafe situation. Every unsafe situation has three potential outcomes, which are discussed on the following slides.Serious Collision Many unsafe situations lead to serious collisions because one or more drivers acted carelessly. Even if you don’t suffer injury or property damage personally, the financial and emotional burdens of being responsible for such a collision can remain with you for years, even your entire life. Remember, a collision can occur any time you drive carelessly, including the first.Minor Collision or Traffic Ticket Other times, the negative consequences of your unsafe actions will be limited. You may cause a collision with relatively insignificant damages, may narrowly avoid causing a collision, or may be stopped by a peace officer before you get into a collision. You should treat these occurrences as learning experiences so you can avoid similarly dangerous behavior in the future.False Confidence Finally, your unsafe behavior may seem to have no ramifications at all. When this happens, it may be natural for you to feel that your risks have no consequences, that such actions are safe, or even that you’re an especially gifted driver. In fact, every time you avoid significant consequences when driving unsafely, you should consider yourself extremely lucky. In the future, the same actions could have serious consequences!The consequences of poor driving habits are cumulative. If you engage in unsafe behavior continually, you’re more likely to eventually be involved in a major collision. By permanently adopting an attentive attitude, you’ll always be able to make safe and effective driving choices.Every time you get behind the wheel, remember that you are making choices. The choices you make can save lives. Even the simplest choices you make—like wearing a seatbelt, or refusing to exceed the speed limit, or never driving after you have had a drink—can have important consequences. In the next section, we will examine some of the bad choices drivers make and the price we all pay because of it.

Dangerous Driving Practices

To predict and analyze potential risks on the road, you should know how frequently they occur and what consequences will result from a driving error. Once you recognize a risk, you must take action to minimize the chance of a collision: adjust your speed, change your position, or communicate appropriately if there’s time to influence others. Remember, even when an action doesn’t cause a crash directly, it can set in motion a chain of mistakes that leads to a person’s death.In Texas, the six most common causes of collisions in 2013 were: Speeding or failing to control speed Driver inattention or distraction Failing to yield the right-of-way Failing to drive in a single lane Disregarding a stop sign or traffic signal Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs Other common causes of collisions included making an unsafe lane change, following too closely, and performing a faulty evasive action.


The NHTSA defines speeding-related crashes as any in which racing, driving too fast for conditions, or exceeding the posted speed limit was a factor. According to the NHTSA, speeding was a contributing factor in 29% of all fatal traffic collisions in 2013, causing the death of nearly 10,000 people. The economic cost of these collisions is estimated to be over $40 billion.Speeding is dangerous because when you drive faster: You have less time to react to hazards You have less control over your vehicle It’s harder for you to see out of your peripheral vision It takes longer to brake The impact of a collision will be greaterRemember: Whenever driving faster than is reasonable and prudent, you are speeding, regardless of what the posted speed limit is. Always reduce your speed for bad weather, lighting, roadway, or traffic conditions. A collision at 60 mph has four times the force as a collision at 30 mph. As a result, the probability of death, disfigurement, or debilitating injury doubles for every increase of 10 mph above 50 mph.When you encounter a speeding driver, let him or her pass you. Don’t honk at, chase, or try to block a speeding vehicle: you may make the road more unsafe for other drivers, or you may enrage the driver who is speeding, causing him or her to act even more recklessly. By driving at a safe speed, you can make sure you have enough time to notice and respond to hazards on the road. No matter how much of a rush you’re in or how thrilling it may feel, speeding is never worth the risks it entails.

Ignoring Traffic Signs and Signals

Whether it’s caused by inattention, impatience, or indifference, ignoring traffic rules can affect your safety and the safety of others. The efficacy of traffic control devices in facilitating traffic flow is demonstrated by the fact that less than 16% of vehicles in fatal collisions in 2013 crashed at a location controlled by a stop sign, stop light, or other device. However, disregarding a traffic sign or signal can have serious consequences.Over 7,000 vehicles were involved in fatal collisions at locations governed by a traffic control device in 2013. 2,378 vehicles were in fatal collisions at locations controlled by a stop sign. 4,668 vehicles were in fatal collisions at locations controlled by a stop light. Collisions were also common at areas where yield, wrong way, and construction signs were posted, as well as at railroad crossings where signs or other devices were posted.Be aware of the different ways the drivers tend to disregard traffic control devices: Failing to stop at ("rolling through") a stop sign: You must always come to a complete stop. Even if you intend to yield, rolling through a stop sign can mislead and confuse other road users, causing them to react in an unsafe way. Disobeying a stoplight or a stop, yield, or wrong way sign: This puts you into another driver’s path of travel at a time when he or she has the right of way, forcing him or her to take evasive action to avoid hitting you. Disobeying a construction sign: Detours, sudden merges, bright lights, and workers near the edge of the roadway all increase the chances of a collision in a construction zone.

Ignoring Right-of-Way

When drivers disrupt traffic flow by failing to yield the right-of-way, turning or changing lanes incorrectly, or driving in the wrong direction, fatal collisions can result. According to the National Safety Council, right-of-way violations contributed to almost 11% of all fatal collisions, as well as over 15% of collisions involving injury and over 13% of collisions overall.When you fail to respect the drivers you’re sharing the road with, you put yourself at an increased risk of a collision. Remember that right-of-way rules exist to prevent two vehicles from trying to occupy the same space at the same time. If you fail to yield right-of-way properly, another vehicle may drive directly into your path of travel, or collide with a barrier or another car while attempting to avoid hitting you.Frequently, drivers will ignore right-of-way rules when they’re feeling rushed or stressed, assuming that others will yield to them if necessary. This can be a very dangerous belief: after all, consider the potential consequences if just one other driver on the road has decided to make the same assumption!Don’t forget that you’re legally obligated to yield the right-of-way whenever it’s necessary to avoid a collision. Pay attention to other road users so you can yield if they improperly claim the right-of-way. Even if the right-of-way violation is committed by someone else, you will be held responsible if a collision occurs when you refuse to yield.If you realize that you’ve entered an intersection unsafely or see cross traffic entering the intersection while you’re still in it, honk your horn to warn others of your presence. Slow down or stop if necessary. Waiting for another vehicle to pass will always result in a much shorter delay than dealing with a crash.

Ignoring Traffic Flow Considerations

Whenever you turn, change lanes, merge, or pass another vehicle, you must cross someone else’s path of travel. As a result, these maneuvers can be incredibly dangerous. On crowded roadways, your careless driving can cause a collision even if you avoid danger personally. Whenever you disrupt traffic flow, you can start a chain reaction by forcing other drivers into an unsafe situation.Improper Turns Other traffic is often endangered when you fail to turn properly: When turning left, you must cross two different streams of opposing traffic, including vehicles approaching from your left and vehicles coming towards you. If you attempt to cut corners or fail to yield in the intersection when necessary, you could collide with another car. When turning right, you may encounter a conflict, especially if you turn right on a red light. Watch out for pedestrians in the crosswalk and be sure to avoid making a wide right turn. Be especially cautious when performing a U-turn because you must cross at least two lanes of opposing traffic and you may confuse other drivers. Make sure the maneuver is permitted before you begin.To ensure your safety when turning: Check for traffic control devices prohibiting your maneuver Activate your signal at least 100 ft before you intend to turn Confirm that there’s a gap large enough for you to complete the turn Stay in the same lane as you execute the turn Watch for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists Exercise extra caution if your view is blockedWhen driving near a place where a driver may turn, remain vigilant. Pay attention to others’ turn signals, but do not assume that a vehicle with its turn signals activated will turn, or that a vehicle without its turn signals activated will not turn. If you encounter a driver making a turn, yield or adjust your position if doing so will help him or her complete the maneuver without conflict.Improper Lane Use and Passing Passing, changing lanes, and merging are particularly dangerous because they involve multiple cars making complex maneuvers that rely less on established rules and more on driver discretion. When passing another vehicle or changing lanes, it’s up to you to determine when it’s safe and where and how to make the maneuver. No sign or lane marking will tell you where to drive in order to pass safely.Only by having a good understanding of your vehicle’s capabilities and a thorough awareness of the position and movement of vehicles around you will you be able to pass, change lanes, or merge safely. Whenever you’re entering another lane of traffic, you must adjust your speed to match the flow of traffic in that lane. Make sure the gap you enter is large enough for you to have a safe space in front of and behind your car once you’ve entered the new lane.To ensure that your maneuvers won’t disrupt other drivers and that their maneuvers won’t disrupt you, remember to scan the road ahead of you, check your mirrors, and look over your shoulder constantly. Many lane change collisions involve a vehicle concealed in another driver’s blind spot. If you see a driver entering your lane, slow down so he or she can merge safely. If you speed up, he or she may not be able to avoid colliding with your vehicle.In general, the safest position for your car is the center of your lane. From this position, you can move quickly in any direction if you have to make an evasive maneuver to avoid a collision. If the driver in front of you is weaving across the lane or driving too close to a divider lane, maintain extra following distance and be prepared for him or her to maneuver unexpectedly. Even if this driver frustrates you by hogging the road or driving too slowly, don’t take unnecessary risks by trying to pass.Driving on the Wrong Side of the Road If you turn into the wrong lane, enter a one-way street in the wrong direction, use an exit ramp to enter an expressway, or pass another vehicle unsafely, you could end up on the wrong side of the road. This mistake is frequently fatal because it can result in a head-on crash—the most dangerous of all collisions. While you may think it uncommon for someone to end up driving on the wrong side of the road, according to the NHTSA, 858 people involved in a fatal collision in 2013 were doing just that! This means that one in every 52 people killed in a collision died because someone was on the wrong side of the road.No road is designed to accommodate traffic going in the wrong direction. No signs will be pointed towards you, and there won’t be a designated exit lane for your car. You’ll have to find your own way back into a safe lane. Avoid driving the wrong way by paying attention to the direction of traffic and parked cars by checking for ONE WAY, WRONG WAY, or DO NOT ENTER signs, and by making sure that the yellow pavement line is always on your left.If you encounter a vehicle driving against traffic and heading towards you, slow down. You can drastically reduce the severity of a collision by reducing your speed as much as possible. Maneuver away from the vehicle, while taking care not to cause a collision as you do so. If you see a vehicle enter a roadway in the wrong direction, try to alert the driver to his or her error as soon as possible by honking your horn.Following Too Closely Always maintain a sufficient following distance. The shorter the distance between your car and the car you’re following, the less time you’ll have to react if there’s a problem. Though rear-end collisions are not frequently fatal, they do account for a large proportion of all collisions. According to the NHTSA, while rear-end collisions accounted for only about 6% of fatal crashes in 2013, they represented about 32% of all injury and property damage crashes.When you tailgate, you make it much more likely that you’ll be involved in a collision. If the vehicle in front of you stops suddenly, you won’t be able to stop in time to avoid crashing into it. If the vehicle behind you rear-ends your car, you’ll be slammed into the back of the vehicle in front of you. When you’re close behind another vehicle, your view of the road ahead will be obstructed. You may increase the anxiety of the driver ahead of you, making it more likely he or she will drive recklessly. If you make a mistake, you won’t have enough room to correct it in time.Always maintain a following distance of at least three seconds between your car and the car ahead of you. Increase your following distance when: Following a large truck or motorcycle Driving at high speeds Driving in poor weather or roadway conditions Driving in an area where pedestrians or vehicles may enter the road Being followed too closely by another vehicle

Ignoring Situations that Increase Risk

Drivers can also increase the risk they face by failing to acknowledge situations that make it more dangerous for them to drive and make the appropriate driving decisions in response. For instance: A driver may fail to adjust his or her speed and drive cautiously at night or in wet or icy weather. A driver may get behind the wheel despite being emotionally or physically unsuited to drive (e.g. due to fatigue, anxiety, or intoxication). A driver may try to perform a task (like talking on a cell phone) that distracts his or her attention from the driving task. We’ll consider these situations in more depth in upcoming lessons.Drivers make poor decisions and take unnecessary risks for a number of reasons. Frequently, drivers will choose to act in a way they know to be potentially unsafe because they’re in a hurry or want to show off. If you know a simple decision will allow you to avoid serious consequences, you’d be a fool to do anything else. Think about how your friends and family would feel if you died because you chose not to wear a seat belt. Think about how you’d feel if you decided to drag race with another car and someone ended up dead. The collisions that result from your poor decisions are 100% avoidable. It’s up to you to decide to drive safely and avoid unnecessary risks.

The Costs of Inexperience

Drivers of all ages expose themselves to risk when operating a vehicle. Because of their inexperience, however, teenage drivers face an even bigger set of risks. Young drivers are: More willing to take risks Less aware of the consequences of their actions More likely to think a situation is less dangerous than it is Less able to respond to traffic hazards quickly More likely to drive recklessly due to peer pressureDrivers in their late teens and early 20s tend to think they’re less likely than other drivers to be involved in a collision. In fact, collisions are most common among drivers between 16 and 24. According to the NHTSA, in 2013: For every 100,000 licensed drivers, about 21 were involved in a fatal collision and about 4,700 were involved in a collision of any kind. For every 100,000 licensed drivers between 16 and 24, about 32 were involved in a fatal collision and about 9,000 were involved in a collision of any kind. This suggests that young drivers are roughly 50% more likely to be involved in a fatal collision and almost twice as likely to be involved in some kind of collision.According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), motor vehicle collisions are the leading cause of death of Americans between the ages of 15 and 24. Almost 1 in every 4 Americans between 15 and 24 who died in 2013 was killed in a car crash. The NHTSA suggests that while only about 13% of licensed drivers are between the ages of 16 and 24, these drivers were involved in about 19% of all fatal traffic collisions that occurred in 2013.By necessity, young drivers don’t have the behind-the-wheel experience necessary to understand the dynamics associated with driving a motor vehicle. This lack of experience and knowledge can result in poor decision-making and create dangerous situations on the road. Because they don’t have much firsthand experience driving at night, in inclement weather, on hills or curves, and through intersections and rural environments, young drivers frequently don’t realize why such situations are so dangerous.Judging how risky a situation is can be especially challenging for new drivers, who tend to underestimate the risks of driving while overestimating their own abilities. Younger, novice drivers and older, more experienced drivers tend to visually scan the roadway in different ways. Not only are novice drivers less able to recognize high-risk situations but, because they’re unaware of these gaps in their capacity to recognize hazards, they’re also more likely to feel invulnerable and take unnecessary risks.In addition, teenagers are naturally more predisposed to risky behaviors, like drinking or taking drugs before driving, while being less aware of how they’ll be affected by those actions. Moreover, new drivers are typically unaware of how their risky behavior can affect other drivers. A young driver who doesn’t appreciate the risk other drivers are exposed to when he or she acts recklessly can endanger anyone who isn’t expecting such reckless driving.In order to become a safe, experienced driver, you must pay attention to your driving habits and identify potential problems in the way you drive. Constantly monitor your own attitudes to make sure you continue to drive courteously, cautiously, and attentively. Be careful not to pick up any bad driving habits from parents, peers, or other drivers you ride with frequently. If you notice that a parent drives aggressively or inattentively, look out for the same behaviors in yourself and practice overcoming these dangerous habits.

Common Mistakes of Novice Drivers

According to a study of 16-year-old drivers conducted in California and Maryland, the top errors made by novice drivers are: Failing to maintain a visual lead or attend to the path of travel Driving at least 5 mph too fast for current conditions Entering a curve at too high a speed Failing to pay attention at an intersection Failing to respond adequately to hazardous circumstances Failing to notice action on the side of the roadway Failing to yield the right-of-way Following too closely Being distracted 45% of collisions involved an improper visual search combined with an inappropriate decision (like entering a curve too fast), while only 3.3% of collisions involved a willfully dangerous action.One reason that young drivers tend to be disproportionately involved in collisions is because they want show off to impress their friends by demonstrating their skills or their fearlessness. When combined with the liberating experience of driving for the first time, this impulse can be deadly. Driving is not a game or a performance! Don’t show off by speeding, peeling out, playing chicken, or ignoring the rules of the road. Dying for such a silly reason wouldn’t just be tragic—it would be stupid!Of all drivers, young males tend to engage in the most risky driving behavior and are most often involved in fatal collisions. According to the NHTSA, in 2013, drivers between 15 and 24 were most likely to be speeding at the time of a fatal collision. Additionally, male drivers in every age group were more likely to be involved in a fatal speeding-related collision than female drivers in the same group. Among males aged 15 to 24, 35% who were involved in a fatal collision were speeding at the time of the crash.A particularly dangerous activity that’s common among novice drivers is street racing. Street racing involves vehicles racing on deserted streets, generally in the middle of the night. Street racing is incredibly dangerous. Frequently, streets aren’t as deserted as you think. At high speeds, having to make even small driving adjustments can cause you to lose control of your car. The risk just isn’t worth it. Depending on your degree of involvement, you may face anywhere from 6 months to 20 years in jail, plus thousands of dollars in fines and a lengthy license suspension, for participating in a race, drag race, or other exhibition of speed or driver endurance.The NHTSA has also found that young drivers under the influence of alcohol are more likely to be involved in a fatal collision. In 2013, 29% of drivers under 21 who were killed in a collision had a BAC of 0.01% or higher. The majority of these (82%) had a BAC of at least 0.08%. Remember that drivers 21 and over are restricted to a BAC of 0.08%, while it is illegal for drivers under 21 to drive with any trace of alcohol in their system.Teen drivers are also less likely to buckle up and more likely to speed or drive too fast for prevailing conditions. Moreover, the risk of being in a fatal collision increases when teens are transporting passengers: 16- and 17-year-old drivers are 3.6 times more likely to be involved in a fatal collision when they are with passengers than when they are alone. Passengers, especially young males riding with a young male driver, distract the driver and encourage him or her to take more risks.Many teens believe that collisions will only happen to other people and that they are safe drivers because they haven’t yet experienced a severe collision. This is a dangerous attitude! A driver who avoids the consequences of his or her reckless attitude is simply lucky. Eventually, that luck will run out.

Strategies to Minimize Risk

As a driver, you’ll always experience a certain degree of risk. Your decision to perform an action on the road will be determined by how risky you judge the action to be, as well as how much risk you’re willing to accept. Before you act, always consider the amount of risk involved and determine whether it’s worth it to proceed. Never risk more than you can afford to lose. Don’t risk a lot for a little. Consider the odds and your situation.Remember: Not all risks are equal. In an extremely risky situation, like driving on a rain-soaked street, there’s a chance that if you don’t drive cautiously, you’ll lose control of your car—and lose your life. In a relatively low-risk situation like parallel parking, however, carelessness may result in nothing worse than a broken taillight. You can probably afford to replace a broken taillight, but there’s no driving risk worth losing your life for.Few of the risks you might take as a driver will have a potential payoff that justifies the possibility of an expensive traffic ticket or a serious collision. When you attempt to cross railroad tracks while ignoring an active warning, the best outcome you can hope for is arriving at your destination a minute earlier. The risk of a terrible crash is not worth any amount of time saved.Some aspects of driving, including other drivers, pedestrians, and the weather, will always be beyond your control. However, there are many things that are within your control, including the speed of your car, your level of sobriety, your decision to obey traffic signals, and whether you wear your seat belt. By remaining in control of the aspects of driving within your power, you’ll be best prepared to deal with the situations you cannot change.You can improve your safety before you even get on the road by choosing a vehicle that is designed to provide protection and keeping it in good working order. You should also evaluate weather conditions and your own physical, mental, and emotional fitness before driving. One of the most important driving skills you can have is knowing when you shouldn’t.The following techniques to reduce risk will improve your driving in all kinds of environmental conditions: Follow all applicable traffic laws. Never drive faster than is safe. Be emotionally and mentally prepared for driving. Practice a healthy and safe lifestyle in general. Arm yourself with knowledge. When you begin driving and lack experience, knowledge is the best tool you have for reducing risk. Learn from cumulative observation and experience. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel when driving: you can learn to drive safely by being attentive to your own actions and the actions of other drivers on the road. Communicate your intentions to other roadway users so that they won’t be surprised by your actions.Always go with the flow of traffic and maintain sufficient following distance. Always yield the right-of-way to pedestrians, regardless of who’s right. Always check your blind spots before changing lanes and turning. Always keep your eyes moving and scan the road 12 to 15 seconds ahead of you. Always have your headlights activated, even during the day. Always pay attention! Always buckle up! Always drive sober!To help you develop the observation skills and reflexes necessary to be a safe driver, you should frequently practice: Starting and stopping smoothly Maintaining control of the steering wheel while driving forward, turning, and backing up Using reference points to determine your car’s position Identifying visual targets Checking your mirrors and blind spots Using evasive steering and braking techniquesYour ability to recognize and respond to risk will improve with experience. While the knowledge you learn in drivers education will help you improve your safety on the road (as long as you remember to use it!), there’s no substitute for the understanding of the driving task that experience brings. However, with experience, it’s important to make sure you maintain an awareness of how you drive. Continue to evaluate your attitude and approach to driving as you age to ensure you don’t develop any unsafe habits.

Vehicle Damage

Serious consequences could result if you drive in a risky manner. The most obvious potential consequence of careless or reckless driving is damage to your car. While most collisions don’t result in major injuries, any time you collide with another object, drive off the side of the road, or misuse the mechanisms in your car, significant damage can result.If you think your car can sustain a little damage and be fine, think again. For one thing, when you make a risky maneuver, you never know what kind of damage will result. While you may think that nothing worse will happen than a few minor dents, the potential for unexpected situations and the inability to predict how another driver will respond make it impossible to know what the actual consequences will be.

Vehicle Damage

Any time your car gets damaged in a collision, you should have it looked at by a professional mechanic, even if the damage seems minor. Damage to one part of your car may cause a malfunction somewhere else when you’re least expecting it. The typical cost to repair damage incurred in a collision can range from under $1,000 for minor dents to $10,000 or more if a major component has to be replaced. According to the Insurance Research Council, in 2013, the average insurance claim for vehicles damaged in a collision was over $3,000.Even if your insurance policy covers the cost of repairs, your insurance rates will rise and your car may be out of commission for weeks, especially if parts need to be replaced. Just think: if you’re careless at the wrong time, you could be carless for a long time.

Injury and Death

If you’re lucky, the only thing that will be damaged in a collision is your car. Unfortunately, many drivers are injured or killed as the result of their own or another driver’s careless behavior behind the wheel. Some of the consequences you may have to face if you’re injured in a car crash include: Physical pain and suffering Significant disfigurement Temporary or permanent disability leaving you unable to attend school or work Missed school or work during your recovery time Inability to participate in social functions Costly medical expenses Higher insurance rates Long-term health complicationsIf you’re killed in a car crash, you won’t have to deal with any consequences directly. However, your family and friends will have to deal with funeral expenses, the loss of your income, possible legal expenses, and grief.Even if you survive without serious injuries, other parties involved in a collision may not be so lucky, especially if the person you hit was a pedestrian, bicyclist, or motorcyclist. Any consequences you may face as the result of your risky driving may be suffered by others simply because they got in your way at the wrong time. You may even cause the death of a friend: according to the NHTSA, two out of every three teens who die as passengers are being driven by another teenager. In addition, you may have to confront the anger of the victim’s family and your own sense of guilt at causing another person’s injury or death.If you’re involved in a collision, you should attempt to provide medical aid to anyone who is seriously injured if it is safe and you are competent to do so. Even basic medical care provided in the first few minutes after an injury can mean the different of life and death for someone. If anyone is hurt, you must call the police or Texas Highway Patrol. If the person needs medical care, call an ambulance or arrange transportation to a hospital immediately.

Legal and Administrative Actions

Even if you don’t cause a collision, there can be severe consequences for driving unsafely. There are a number of legal and administrative punishments you may face if you fail to maintain a proper attitude for driving or disregard the rules of the road. Remember, any action you may be cited for is one that could have resulted in a collision if circumstances had been slightly different. While no one likes to get a ticket, you should consider yourself lucky that the consequences of your actions weren’t worse, and that you and your car are unharmed.Your license may be suspended or revoked automatically for certain traffic violations, such as reckless driving or a hit-and-run. Moreover, a judge may order your license to be revoked or suspended if you are convicted of: Speeding and reckless driving Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs Failing to stop as required at a railroad crossing Fleeing a law enforcement officer A license suspension may be the least of the punishments you receive for these crimes. You may also receive heavy fines and a significant prison sentence. In addition to these other penalties, drivers under 25 who are cited for a moving violation may be required to attend a four-hour driver safety course.Moreover, a record of reckless driving can cause your insurance rates to increase. If you are found at-fault for a collision, you may face higher insurance rates for at least three years. If you’re found to have caused a collision while driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, your rates could go up even more, or your policy may be cancelled altogether. If this happens, you won’t be able to drive until you obtain a new insurance policy.

Quality of Life Considerations

If you’re convicted of a major traffic violation or are found responsible for a collision that caused significant property damage, injury, or death, you may be dealing with the consequences of a single bad decision for years. Indeed, you may find your life permanently altered as a result of a careless moment behind the wheel.

Quality of Life Considerations

For instance, consider how a license suspension alone could change your quality of life. Not only will your social opportunities and job options be more limited, but it may be harder to get to school and you will face major inconveniences whenever you need to go someplace. Think about all the ways that you think having a drivers license will improve your life. Now imagine not being able to do any of them.Moreover, if you’re involved in a collision, you may be injured in such a way that can no longer perform common activities to the extent you were before. You may have trouble attending school or performing your job, and you may be left with residual pain for the rest of your life. You and your parents may also have to deal with long term medical expenses.In addition, the opportunities available to you may be limited for years due to the financial obligations you must meet as the result of a collision, even if no one else is injured. For instance, even if you just carelessly collide with a parked car, you may have to pay: The cost to repair or replace the car you crashed into The cost to repair or replace your own car Any fines, penalties, and court costs Increases to your insurance premium The costs of missed work time These costs can quickly add up far beyond what your insurance policy is able to cover. How would your plans for your life change if you needed to pay hundreds of dollars a month for years to make up for one mistake?Indeed, the consequences may be even worse. If you permanently disable someone in a collision, you may be required to provide for his or her medical care, possibly for the rest of his or her life. With the wrong mistake, you could end up in jail. You may even end up dead.

As you review the information presented in this unit, consider how to incorporate the following topics into your driving plan. To reduce risk on the road, you must: Adopt an appropriate driving attitude in recognition of the significant risks associated with driving Recognize your responsibility to make the driving decisions least likely to endanger yourself and others on the road Understand and avoid the driving practices most likely to result in a collision Acknowledge the influence of inexperience on your driving ability so you can avoid common novice driver errors Realize that reducing risk is a lifelong process that requires you to constantly monitor your own driving habits

To make sure you’ve done a good job reviewing this unit, you must now pass a test. The information in this unit is important: if you do not pass the test, you will have to take the entire unit over again. You can review as much as you wish. Simply return to your dashboard and select the topic you want to review. Do not press NEXT until you are sure you will pass the test. It is very important for you to review carefully and make sure you know how to reduce risk on the road by taking road safety seriously, always getting behind the wheel with the right attitude.

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