Table of Contents


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Sharing the Road

In case you were wondering, you do not own the road. Neither does the principal. It does not matter who it is, whether it is a police officer, the mayor, the governor or the President, no one single person owns the road. The law in Nevada requires each of us to share the road with one another. That means we are responsible for each other, whether we are in a car, truck, motorcycle, bicycle, or simply walking. For example, some of the things you need to do include checking your blind spots, observing right-of-way rules, and maintaining a safe following distance.

Also consider the different modes of transportation. While motorcycles, big rigs, buses, station wagons and sports cars all share the same road, are they all operated the same way? Pedestrians and bicyclists may use the same sidewalk, but are they moving at the same speed? To coexist safely with all these different vehicles and different road users, we must understand that each one has benefits and challenges.

Sharing the Road with Pedestrians

Pedestrians are the most vulnerable users on the road, so you must always be prepared for them to suddenly appear in your path of travel, especially if they are children. But the responsibility does not lie solely with drivers; pedestrians themselves must make every attempt to ensure their own safety.

Pedestrian Responsibilities

An image of three pedestrians crossing a street

Pedestrians must use crosswalks when they are provided.

Pedestrians must obey traffic laws, just like any other user of the road. When walking, you must not stand in the road, leave a place of safety (such as a crosswalk or sidewalk) suddenly or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close that it is impossible for its driver to yield (by stopping for you). If there is a sidewalk on the road where you are walking, you must use it rather than walking on or along the roadway. You are required by law to cross a road at an intersection or a crosswalk when:

  • You are in a business district.
  • You are between two intersections with traffic lights.

Crossing the road in these instances without utilizing the crosswalk (also known as jaywalking) is both illegal and unsafe. Otherwise, you may legally cross a street in the middle of the block without a crosswalk. However, you are required to yield the right-of-way to all traffic.

An image of a walk and don't walk signal

Pedestrian signals help pedestrians determine right-of-way.

Pedestrian Signals: A green light or a "walk" signal that is facing you gives you the right-of-way. As always, you should never assume that drivers will give you the right-of-way. You probably already know this, but you should be sure to look both ways before crossing the street. Before you step out onto the road, make sure all drivers see you and stop for you. A red light or a "don't walk" signal that is facing you tells you not to begin to cross the street. If the "don't walk" signal begins to flash while you are crossing the street, you may finish crossing.

Safety Tips: When walking on the roadway, you should do so on the shoulder and against oncoming traffic. This allows you to safely observe traffic. If you walk with traffic, you won't be able to get out of the way of a vehicle you can't see, which means you could be hit from behind. Always yield to vehicles on the roadway and do not stop or delay traffic unnecessarily even while in a marked or unmarked crosswalk.

Driver Responsibilities

An image of a child running in front of a car

Never assume pedestrians see you or will stop for you.

When driving around pedestrians, you must exercise due care to avoid running over anyone. If necessary and appropriate, you should use your horn to prevent a collision with a pedestrian. You must always yield the right-of-way to all pedestrians in an intersection, even if you are facing a green light. Never assume pedestrians see you or will stop for you. This means slowing down when you approach a crosswalk and yielding the right-of-way when necessary to ensure the safety of that pedestrian. Yield to any pedestrian crossing at crosswalks or corners by stopping before the limit line. If a vehicle ahead of you has stopped at an intersection or crosswalk (marked or unmarked), you must stop also if that driver stopped for a pedestrian crossing the road.

As pedestrians have the right-of-way at crosswalks, you must not block a crosswalk, whether it is marked or unmarked. Be especially alert for children and the elderly. Give them more time and space if you see them crossing or preparing to cross the road. Also watch out for joggers, rollerbladers, skateboarders and people walking their dogs because they may not see or hear you.

Blind Pedestrians: Nevada law requires you to stop for pedestrians who are visually impaired. A visually impaired pedestrian typically carries a cane or walking stick that is white (often with a red tip), and may be walking with a guide dog. If you approach an intersection or crosswalk where a visually impaired person is crossing or attempting to cross the roadway, you must make a complete stop and wait until that person is safely out of the way. This is one situation where you must not use your horn because the noise will only confuse or frighten the pedestrian.

Pedestrian Safety

When in doubt, always yield to pedestrians. In fact, even if they cross illegally, you must yield to them if not doing so will put them in physical danger. Don't forget - if you collide with a pedestrian, that person will be injured or killed. As a driver, you have thousands of pounds of metal protecting you, while pedestrians have nothing. It is for this reason that you must do everything you can to avoid hitting a pedestrian.

Watch Out for Child Pedestrians

An image of children running in the street

Young children are at the most risk as pedestrians.

The pedestrians that are at the most risk are young children, particularly those between 5 and 9 years of age. Each year, more than 50,000 child pedestrians in the United States are injured. So what makes them so vulnerable? There are three important factors that increase their risk:

  1. They are impulsive;
  2. They have little understanding of danger; and
  3. They have difficulty judging the speed and distance of approaching vehicles.

Although they may have been taught to look both ways before crossing, young children cannot make sound safety judgments until they are about 9 years of age. For that reason you should slow down when:

  • Driving by parks, recreational areas.
  • Driving on residential streets.
  • When you see children about to cross the street.
  • When you are approaching school zones.
  • Driving by any other areas where children gather.

Remember - Nevada law requires you to slow down in posted school zones.

An image of pedestrians crossing a street

You can be a role model for younger children by following safety rules.

Safety Tips: Whether you are a parent or have younger siblings, always practice safety rules with them and act as role models. Some tips to follow:

  • Walk on sidewalks and cross the street only at designated crosswalks.
  • Do not run into the street. Never come out into the street between parked cars.
  • If walking at night, do not walk alone. Wear bright or reflective clothing.
  • Look left, right, and then left again before crossing the street. Always stop at the curb first before crossing.
  • Teach your kids the traffic signs and signals, and help them to develop their safety skills.

When behind the wheel, always be extra cautious and drive slowly in all residential, school and park areas. This way, you won't be caught by surprise when children run into the street. Don't expect young children to rely on drivers to follow the law. They must learn how to be safe pedestrians themselves.

Pedestrian Statistics

Traffic crashes kill nearly 5,000 pedestrians nationwide every year. Here are some 2007 statistics from NHTSA:

  • About 70,000 pedestrians were injured in collisions with motor vehicles.
  • 4,654 pedestrians were killed across the country.
  • Most of the pedestrians who died were killed under these conditions:
    • In urban areas (73%).
    • At non-intersection locations (77%).
    • In normal weather conditions (90%).
    • At night (67%).

Also consider these statistics from 2007 regarding children under 15:

  • 306 of the pedestrians who were killed were children ages 14 and under.
  • 80% of the young pedestrian fatalities occurred at non-intersection locations.

Sharing the Road with Bicycles

An image of a bicyclist

A bicycle can legally ride in a traffic lane on the road if it can keep up with traffic.

A bicycle is a vehicle that can legally ride in a traffic lane on the road, as long as it can keep up with the flow of regular vehicular traffic. Bicycles typically ride near the curb or bicycle lanes, if they are provided, although riders may move into a traffic lane to pass another bicycle or avoid a hazard. They may also use the left turn lane.

Bicyclists are required to follow the same rules as motorists, such as stopping at red lights and stop signs, and they are not allowed to drink and ride. Bicycles have the right to share the roadway with motor vehicles, so please keep that in mind when driving around them and respect them.

Driver Responsibilities

You can cross into a bicycle lane only when entering or leaving an alley, driveway or highway, when directed to do so by a police officer, or in an emergency situation. You must yield the right-of-way to bicyclists traveling in bicycle lanes. Additionally, you may overtake and pass a bicycle only if you can do it safely without putting the bicyclist at risk. Bicycles typically ride near the right curb of the road, but may move into the lane to the left to pass another bicycle or vehicle or to avoid hitting another object. Special care and extra space needs should be observed when driving near a bicycle.

Common Bicycle-Motor Vehicle Crashes

A collision between a bicycle and motor vehicle is dangerous to the BICYCLIST. The driver of a car rarely gets injured, though the vehicle may sustain some damage. Below are three common types of crashes between a bicycle and motor vehicle, along with some tips adapted from BicycleSafe.com.

Driver Turns Right into Bicycle Proceeding Straight

An image of a bicyclist

This driver is turning right into the path of a bicycle traveling straight ahead.

This type of crash often occurs in these situations:

  • A driver passes a bicycle and then makes a right turn, wrongly assuming he or she can pass the bicycle because it is moving slowly.
  • A bicyclist passes a vehicle and its driver then makes an unexpected right turn.
  • A bicyclist enters a crosswalk from the sidewalk.

Driver tips: Look behind you before you turn right. Never pass a bicycle to make a right turn; wait behind until you can make the turn without endangering the bicyclist.

Bicyclist tips: Don't pass on the right. If you are riding on the sidewalk or crosswalk, drivers won't be expecting you. In that case, you need to make eye contact with the driver turning right before you cross the street.

Driver Turns Left into Bicycle Proceeding Straight

An image of a bicyclist

This driver is turning left into the path of a bicycle traveling straight ahead.

This type of crash is often the result of a driver failing to yield the right-of-way, though it also occurs when the driver simply cannot see the bicyclist.

Driver tips: Look ahead to make sure the intersection is clear before you turn left. You must give a bicyclist the right-of-way in this situation.

Bicyclist tips: Attempt to make eye contact with the driver. If you cannot, you need to slow down and be ready to stop if the vehicle continues to cross in front of you. Also don't pass a slow-moving vehicle on the right because it will make you invisible to the driver turning left.

Driver Rear-Ends Bicycle

This type of crash occurs when a driver follows a bicycle too closely. It can also occur when a bicyclist moves to the left to avoid a hazard or parked car. A rear-end crash is one of the most difficult for bicyclists to avoid because they don't often look behind.

An image of a bicyclist

This driver is about to rear-end the bicycle.

Driver tips: If following a bicycle, you must slow down and maintain a safe following distance. When passing a bicycle, be sure to give the rider a wide berth (at least three feet).

Bicyclist tips: If possible, use side streets where traffic moves along more slowly. Use a bicycle lane if one is available. Install a mirror so you can see traffic behind you.

Bicycle Safety

Each year, about 67 million bicyclists ride approximately 15 billion hours in the United States. Over 70% of crashes involving cars with bicycles occur in driveways or intersections. More than half a million people are injured each year in bicycle-related crashes, while over 90% of the deaths from bicycle-related injuries are caused by collisions with motor vehicles. An injury to the head is the greatest risk faced by bicyclists, comprising one-third of the emergency room visits, two-thirds of hospital admissions, and three-fourths of the deaths. Children tend to be at the greatest risk on bicycles because they often do not practice safe riding techniques or wear a bicycle helmet. Because of this, about one-seventh of bicyclist deaths occur in the 5 to 15 year old age group. The following are some statistics from 2007:

  • About 2% of all deaths from traffic crashes are bicyclists.
  • 698 bicyclists were killed in collisions with motor vehicles.
  • 29% of the bicyclists injured in motor vehicle crashes were under 16 years old.
  • 91 bicyclists who were killed were children under the age of 15.

Safety Tips When Driving Near Bicycles

Always give a bicycle plenty of space to the side (at least three feet), and do not follow too closely. Look for bicyclists before opening your door next to traffic lanes and before turning right. At night, switch to low beams when approaching a bicyclist, just as you would for a car or truck. The following tips will help you share the road safely with bicyclists:

An image of a bicyclist

Watch for children on bicycles, as they can be unpredictable.

  1. Drive cautiously
    • Slow down when encountering bicyclists.
    • In poor weather conditions, give bicyclists extra trailing and passing room.
    • Recognize situations that may be potentially dangerous to bicyclists (such as potholes or other hazards in the road) and give them space.
  2. Yield to cyclists
    • Bicycles are considered vehicles and should be given the appropriate right-of-way.
    • Bicyclists may take the entire lane when hazards, road width or traffic speed dictate.
    • Give bicyclists extra time to cross intersections.
  3. Be considerate
    • Scan for bicyclists in traffic and at intersections.
    • Do not blast your horn in close proximity to bicyclists.
    • Check for bicyclists when opening doors.
  4. Pass with care
    • Leave at least three feet of space between your car and a bicyclist when passing.
    • Wait until road and traffic conditions allow you to pass safely.
    • Check over your shoulder after passing a bicyclist before moving back in the lane.
  5. Watch for children
    • Children on bicycles are often unpredictable - expect the unexpected and slow down.
    • Most children don't have adequate knowledge of traffic laws.
    • Children are harder to see because they are smaller than the typical adult.

Safety Tips for Bicyclists

  • Learn and obey all the same rules of the road you would practice if driving a motor vehicle.
  • Be alert and always look out for obstacles and vehicles.
  • Whenever possible, avoid riding a bike at night. If you must ride at night, have lights for the front and rear to ensure that drivers can see you.
  • Be aware of your position on the road and traffic around you.
  • Always check your brakes before riding, and keep your bicycle in proper working order.
  • Bike with the flow of traffic - not against it.
  • Always protect your head by wearing a helmet. Bicycle helmets can reduce head injuries by 85%.
  • Have a presence on the road - ensure that you are seen by other drivers.

Required Equipment for Bicycles and Mopeds

An image of a bike's light

You need a white light on the front of your bicycle if you plan to ride when it is dark.

Bicycles and mopeds are required to have certain equipment such as brakes that are able to stop you within 25 feet when traveling 10 mph. In addition, you must have the following lights and reflectors if you plan on riding your bicycle from 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise:

  • A white light, located on the front of your bicycle so other drivers can see you from 500 feet.
  • A rear red reflector or red light, which must be a two inch square. Drivers should be able to see the reflector when the low beam headlights of their vehicle hit it from 600 feet.
  • Reflective material or lights on the pedals, crank arms, shoes, or lower legs that drivers can see when reflected by their vehicle's low beam headlights at 200 feet.
  • Reflective material or lights on both sides of a bicycle that drivers can see when reflected by their vehicle's low beam headlights at 300 feet.

Sharing the Road with Motorcyclists

An image of a motorcyclist doing a stunt

Motorcyclists must wear protective clothing and be vigilant to ensure their safety on the road.

Motorcycle operators have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers of cars. This means, for example, that motorcyclists:

  • May occupy an entire lane.
  • Must yield the right-of-way (or be yielded to) when the situation calls for it.
  • Must obey all speed limits.
  • Must signal for all turns and lane changes.

Every traffic law that applies to the driver of a car also applies to a motorcyclist. Because of their quickness and maneuverability, it can be difficult to anticipate when you will see a motorcycle. However, all motorists must actively look for motorcycles, particularly when turning or changing lanes.

Why is it important for you to watch out for motorcycles? The simple answer would be their smaller size. You can easily lose sight of them in your blind spots. They are easily hidden by other vehicles or fences, buildings and trees. Their speed can be difficult to gauge. It can also be difficult to judge just how close they are when you see them in your rear-view mirrors. But there is more to it than just the size of the vehicle. What about the rider?

Motorcyclists do not wear safety belts. They are not protected by airbags. They must wear protective clothing and be hyper-vigilant to ensure their safety on the road. In short, motorcycle riders are in constant jeopardy. By contrast, those of us who drive cars are protected by a sturdy frame of metal and enclosed in a comfortable passenger compartment, protected from the environment.

Motorcycle Crash Study

A professor at the University of Southern California named Harry Hurt conducted a study on the underlying causes of 900 different motorcycle crashes in the Los Angeles Area. He then released his findings in a report called "Motorcycle Accident Cause Factors and Identification of Countermeasures." Hurt found the following:

An image of a downed motorcycle

A study showed that in most crashes involving another vehicle, the other driver was at fault.

  • Approximately three-fourths of the motorcycle crashes involved a collision with another vehicle.
  • Approximately one-fourth of the motorcycle crashes involved a collision with the roadway or a fixed object in the environment.
  • Two percent of the crashes involved some sort of roadway defect (potholes, cracks, pavement ridges, etc.).
  • One percent of the crashes involved an animal.
  • In two-thirds of the crashes that involved another vehicle, the driver of the other vehicle was at fault by violating the motorcycle's right-of-way.
  • Weather conditions were only a factor in about two percent of the motorcycle crashes.
  • 92% of the motorcycle crashes studied involved motorcycle riders that were self-taught or learned from family or friends.
  • Injury severity increases with speed, alcohol involvement, and motorcycle size.
  • In the motorcycle crashes studied, less than ten percent of the riders had insurance to cover medical care or to replace property.

This study is, in part, the reason many states, including Nevada, require motorcycle riders to wear helmets.

Motorcycle Safety

Safety Tips When Driving Near Motorcycles

You must keep in mind that motorcycles are to be treated differently because they are easily overlooked as most of the vehicles you expect to see on the road are cars and trucks. Due to their size, you can easily lose sight of motorcycles in your blind spots. When you are being passed by a motorcycle, maintain your lane position and speed until the rider completes the maneuver. Be cautious when passing a motorcycle. You must be able to see it at all times during the maneuver. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggests the following additional safe driving tips to safely share the road with motorcycles:

  • Respect the motorcyclist: Remember, motorcycles are vehicles with all the privileges of any vehicle on the road. Never enter a lane that is occupied by a motorcycle; the motorcyclist is entitled to the entire width of the lane.
  • Look out: Watch for motorcycles on the highway, at intersections, and when they make left turns or lane changes.
  • Anticipate a motorcyclist's maneuver. Obstructions that you may ignore, such as debris or potholes, can be deadly for a motorcyclist. Anticipate evasive actions taken by motorcyclists.
  • Allow plenty of space: Don't follow a motorcycle too closely. Allow enough room for motorcyclists to take evasive actions.

REMEMBER... Motorcycles operate differently in adverse conditions. For example, while you can drive over potholes (though that is still not recommended), motorcycles must go around them. They may slow down in situations where you would not. Give motorcycles even more space to operate when conditions are poor.

Safety Tips When Riding A Motorcycle

If you ride a motorcycle, never assume that drivers see you or are actively looking for you. Always observe traffic rules and remember to make yourself visible to other drivers. Nevada requires motorcycle riders to wear helmets. If your motorcycle does not have a windshield or screen, either make sure your helmet has a protective face shield or wear goggles. The following are tips from NHTSA if you ride a motorcycle:

An image of two people riding on a motorcycle

Every motorcycle rider in Nevada must wear a helmet.

  • Wear protective clothing: The most important factor in reducing injury is personal protection. Leather jackets, gloves, long pants, proper footwear, eye protection, and helmets provide this personal protection.
  • Ride where you can be seen: Make sure you can be seen by drivers around you. Never ride in another driver's blind spot.
  • Ride defensively: Always watch out for others around you.
  • Leave a buffer zone: Give yourself extra space in your lane for emergency braking situations or other avoidance maneuvers.
  • Single lanes: Never share a lane with a car. A driver may not expect you to be there and may not be aware of your presence. Most drivers are looking for vehicles, not motorcycles.
  • Use signals: Always clearly signal your intentions to other drivers. Signal before changing lanes, make your lane move gradually, and never weave between lanes.
  • Maintain your motorcycle: Make sure your motorcycle is in good condition. Have your motorcycle inspected to ensure good mechanical condition.
  • Light-colored clothing: Wear fluorescent or light colors during the day and reflective materials in the evening and at night.

Motorcycle training classes are available through the Nevada State Highway Patrol.

Sharing the Road with Large Trucks

An image of a truck on a freeway

Large trucks are a danger to you if you do not respect them.

When we talk about "large trucks," we are talking about commercial trucks, big rigs, garbage and recycling trucks, moving vans, construction vehicles, recreational vehicles (RVs), buses and other large vehicles. These BIG vehicles create a hazard for YOU as a driver if you do not respect them. They are much larger and heavier, require vastly more room to start or stop, and need more space to make turns than passenger vehicles. Many drivers still think it's okay to cut in front, tailgate, or pass to the right of these vehicles. While these actions are unsafe with passenger vehicles, they are even more so with large trucks. If you cut right in front of a commercial driver, don't be surprised if his/her vehicle just runs right over you!

Buses present an added challenge for two reasons:

  • They make several stops; and
  • There are people waiting to board them, running to catch them, or stepping off them.

Statistics

About 5,000 people are killed in collisions involving large trucks and passenger vehicles each year. Consider these statistics from 2007:

  • About 413,000 large trucks were involved in traffic crashes.
  • 4,584 large trucks were involved in fatal collisions that killed 4,808 people.
  • Of the vehicles involved in all fatal collisions, 8% were large trucks even though they accounted for only 4% of all registered vehicles in the U.S.
  • About 75% of fatalities involving large trucks were occupants of the other vehicle.
  • About 8% of fatalities were nonoccupants (pedestrians or bicyclists).
  • About 17% of fatalities were occupants of the large truck.
  • In fatal two-vehicle crashes involving both a large truck and a passenger vehicle, 98% of the deaths were to those in the passenger vehicle.

So who is to blame? Statistics reveal that about 75% of these fatal crashes involving a large truck are caused by drivers of the other vehicle. That is not to say that truck drivers themselves bear no responsibility. For example, some are fatigued because they do not follow hours-of-service rules, which are supposed to ensure they sleep enough. They also make many of the same mistakes made by drivers of passenger vehicles, such as judgmental errors and not properly maintaining their vehicles. Since you can blame most of these crashes on drivers of passenger vehicles, it is important to understand the role of driver error. Some common mistakes include passing to the right (where there is a large blind spot), failing to give trucks the right-of-way, and tailgating.

Safety Tips When Driving Around Large Trucks

Some typical problems involving trucks include:

  • Large trucks are not allowed to travel over 70 mph, which means 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 that it requires.
  • Large trucks hauling a trailer or towing another vehicle must maintain a following distance of at least 300 feet.
  • Slow trucks often carry full loads of cargo and lack the power to keep up with the flow of traffic. As a result you should never tailgate a large truck; simply change lanes when it is safe to do so.

The No-Zones

Large trucks require a lot of space in which to operate. In addition to these space requirements, drivers of large trucks and buses have large blind spots, or "No-Zones." While these vehicles may be equipped with multiple mirrors, drivers are "blind" to anything they cannot see in their mirrors, and this is particularly true for the sides. If you follow a large truck and cannot see the side mirrors, its driver probably cannot see you!

An image of a truck's No-Zones!

The illustration shows blind spots to the sides, rear (usually about 30 feet, depending on length of truck), and immediately in front of a big rig. Never drive alongside or tailgate a truck for any length of time. Their drivers will be unaware of your presence in these "No-Zones," which may cause you all sorts of problems. Driving too closely will increase your chances of being involved in a rear-end crash.

Watch for Wide Turns

SMART RULE: If you cannot clearly see a truck's side view mirrors, the truck driver probably cannot see you!

An image of a truck turning

Large vehicles must make wide right turns.

Due to their size, large vehicles turning right must make wide turns. This often means there will be space between a large truck and the curb or center line. Do not cut into this space because the driver will most likely be unable to see you. Look at the size of the blind spot on the right in the illustration. If you attempt to pass on the right when it attempts to turn right, you may collide with the truck. Similarly, when a large truck is backing up, its driver will not be able to see you if you decide to cut behind it. In these situations, you must wait and allow the truck to complete its maneuver if you see it signaling.

Maneuvering Around Large Trucks

When passing a large truck or bus, you should pass only to the left. Signal well in advance to let its driver know you are passing. Make sure you can see both headlights in your rearview mirror before you return to the lane. Do not cut right in front of the truck unless you want to be run over. Do not linger in the passing lane but complete the pass quickly. Failing to pull ahead quickly will make it difficult for the truck to take evasive action in case of an emergency. Its driver may also be unable to see you, which would expose you to danger. If you are the one being passed, do not speed up to prevent the maneuver, but let the truck get ahead of you. The driver will not expect it if you try to close the gap and may not be able to see you due to the blind spot on the right. Be patient when driving around trucks.

Truck Under-Ride Guards

An image of a truck on a freeway

The bar extending down from the trailer is an under-ride guard that keeps cars from traveling beneath the truck in a collision.

When you rear-end a large truck, particularly one with a trailer, you face a number of dangers because of the size differential. A rear-end collision with a large truck can be deadly because these vehicles are much higher, which can cause the top of a smaller vehicle to be sheared off. Fortunately large trucks are required to be equipped with a special bar (usually red and white in color) affixed to the rear that extends down from the trailer. This bar, or under-ride guard, keeps cars from going under them and losing their tops during a rear-end crash. Unfortunately there is still no requirement for a similar under-ride guard on the sides. Always be careful and stay back if a large truck is turning.

Crash Incompatibility

An image of a car crushed between two trucks

Large vehicles will always win in any collision with a passenger vehicle.

The crumple zone is a great safety feature that protects you in a collision, but it is most effective when you collide with a vehicle that is of a size comparable to yours. Unfortunately, we share the road with some vehicles that are much larger, like big rigs and buses. Bigger vehicles can cause much more damage simply because they are bigger and heavier. The force of impact increases with a vehicle's speed; it also increases with the vehicle's weight.

Additional Tips

When driving around a bus, increase your following distance or move into another lane because this vehicle will be making several stops. You also need to slow down when approaching a stopped bus as it will obstruct your view of pedestrians running to catch up with it or stepping out. These are also reasons you should not cut in front of a bus that has stopped, whether to secure a parking space or make a right turn.

These tips also apply when driving around RVs and passenger cars towing a trailer, although you should give these vehicles more room as they may not recognize the dangers they pose to others.

SUV Dangers

SUVs also can cause more damage, though to a lesser extent because differences in size are not as great. Due to their growing popularity, we are seeing more and more SUVs on the road. More than a quarter (28%) of all new registered passenger vehicles in 2006 in the United States were SUVs, according to the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. Compare that to only 7% in 1993! What's more, about 52% of new passenger vehicles in 2006 were light trucks (including SUVs). Only 47% of all new passenger vehicles were cars, down from 68% in 1993.

An image of an SUV

SUVs are larger and heavier than the typical passenger car.

A person riding a regular passenger car has a slightly higher chance of dying from a crash with an SUV in a frontal crash than if the crash was with another car. That's because the SUV is larger and heavier than the car. But the story is different when that car is broadsided by an SUV - the odds of dying are about two times greater than in a frontal crash. This is because the SUV is higher off the ground and has a stiffer front end since it is designed primarily for off-road use.

That, of course, does not mean that your only danger is with larger vehicles. Would you rather be hit by a big rig at 5 mph or a sports car at 55 mph?

Funeral Processions

If you are part of an organized funeral procession, you should drive as close as practical and safe to the vehicle in front of you. You must keep your emergency hazard lights on while in the procession. Regardless of any traffic control device, an organized funeral procession has the right-of-way at all intersections. A funeral procession escorted by law enforcement has the right-of-way on any street or highway through which it may pass. The following rules apply to drivers not in a funeral procession:

  • Do not drive in between vehicles that are part of the procession.
  • Do not join a funeral procession for the purpose of gaining the right-of-way.
  • Do not attempt to pass any vehicle in the procession, unless a passing lane has been specifically provided.
  • Do not enter an intersection that a procession is going through, unless you are able to do it without crossing the path of the funeral procession.

Video: "Sharing the Road"

Do you know what to do when you encounter a pedestrian? A truck? A motorcycle? The following video will help you understand the special concerns and dangers faced by pedestrians, truck drivers, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and ambulance drivers.

Video: "Sharing the Road"
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Always remember that you are sharing the road with others when you get behind the wheel, and that you can communicate your intentions with them. This will help you avoid most collisions and allow you to have a better experience while driving.



Journal Question

WHAT DO YOU THINK? This module discusses different groups of people that you have to share the road with daily. Examine the route you think you will take most often and list the areas where you think you will encounter pedestrians and bicyclists. Use the route(s) you are currently taking as a passenger if you are not sure.

[ CLICK HERE to add an entry to your Journal ]