Section 3 Review

Section 3- Visibility is the Key to Safe Driving 

Texas Topic - Vision and Perception. The student will understand basic components of vision, and visually synthesize information from the driving environment; will apply critical thinking, decision-making, and problem-solving skills to the driving task.

Failure to detect an impending collision in time to avoid is one of the primary reasons for vehicle mishaps. Most angle, frontal and even rear-end crashes can often be avoided (even by the person considered "not at fault"). How? By better use of the eyes. Our objective for this section is to explain and practice effective use of eyes with regard to driving. The purpose of this section is to help the student driver understand when and where to look for hazards. Additionally, we discuss the many ways in which drivers can decrease their crash risk by ensuring they are SEEN.


Objective: In this segment, the student will define key terms regarding visibility and defensive driving. The student will explain the 3 components of the SEE-IT process and the 5 components of the Smith System. The student will describe how SEE-IT and the Smith System are similar and how they are different.

The key to avoiding collisions is good visibility. Without good visibility you cannot maintain a constant awareness of the driving environment. Drivers who are not aware are drivers who crash. What is visibility? Put simply, visibility is seeing and being seen.

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Visibility (Continued)


Seeing begins with looking out the windshield. If this point seems obvious, consider how many cars are on the roads with the windows covered with dirt, snow or ice. Lights, as well as windows, should be completely cleaned and defrosted before driving.

Texas Topic - Controlling High Risk Situations. The student applies space management system to search and evaluate the traffic environment and respond appropriately. How Do You SEE-IT?

Looking in the right place at the right time can save you from an impending collision. A process called SEE-IT has been developed to help drivers do just that. SEE-IT stands for Search, Evaluate, Execute, In Texas. Search and awareness processes such as SEE-IT and the Smith System, will help the new driver develop and master Guidance and Navigation Performance Skills. The new driver should think through these processes both while driving and riding as a passenger.


This is the process of looking at all the different events in the driving environment. Some of these events or objects might be located in your path of travel, have potential to be in your path of travel, or may even be behind you.

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Visibility (Continued)


New drivers will usually fixate on one thing too long. They also tend to be more nervous, and as a result, they either drive too fast or too slow. In either case, they tend to fixate on the speedometer. We must stress that new drivers need extra emphasis on searching.

Short, quick glances are necessary to see the total driving environment. When searching the area behind the vehicle, a driver must use quick glances in the mirrors. An accurate assessment of what's happening behind can be captured in one short glanceBe sure to check the roadway ahead before looking in another mirror or at the instrument panel.


Evaluating the roadway means you have to identify potential hazards, predict how they might cause a collision, and decide how to avoid that collision. Let's consider each of those points individually:

 What do you see while you drive? Can you identify things that might enter your path of travel? Parents, when your teen is driving, ask her/him to identify potential hazards. The key is to know what to look for - small children playing along the roadside, a ball rolling or bouncing into the street, a car moving up too quickly at an intersection, or a car getting ready to move into your lane. As a driver, you want to identify hazards BEFORE they enter your path of travel.

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Visibility (Continued)


After searching the roadway and identifying a potential hazard, a driver needs to predict what might happenPredicting is the most effective and least used skill in avoiding a mishap. For example, while driving down a neighborhood street, when a ball suddenly bounces into the road - What is your prediction? What does your teen predict? Most likely a child will run into the road behind the ball.

The process of predicting gets more accurate with experience. In the meantime, however, parents will have to help the student by pointing out the things that require greater attention. Get in the habit of discussing possible scenarios with your student ahead of time.

Once you predict that something might enter your path, what are you going to do about it?Deciding is something that is done BEFORE THE CRISIS. In other words, as you drive,consider what options are available. Think about what evasive action to take as the different escape routes develop.

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Visibility (Continued)


You have 6 basic options to avoid a collision, they are: Stop, Slow Down, Change Lane Position (Move slightly left or right), Change Direction (Turn or Turn Around), Get Attention (use your Horn or Lights), and Speed Up. Some of these can be used together, for example, in many cases you may avoid a collision by slowing down and moving slightly to the left or right (changing your lane positio)n. This is probably your most frequently used method of avoiding an impact. However, some of the options are clearly incompatible; you can not stop and speed up at the same time.

Since the driving environment is constantly changing as you move down the road, your predictions and decisions on what to do about them are also constantly changing. Experience, and parental guidance will help the student driver develop the skill of quick decision making with good judgment.


Do it! All the searching and evaluating in the world will not help unless the driver is ready and willing to make the proper maneuver when needed. If the driver is ready and willing, executing is the easiest part of all. Parents, remind your young driver to continually think through this process while driving. It will certainly reduce the possibility of being involved in a mishap.

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Visibility (Continued)

Pay Attention

Effective use of the eyes begins and ends with paying attention. Taking your eyes off the road for only a moment can be disastrous. Accidents can happen fast in the traffic environment. This is not the time to be combing hair, reading a map, eating a sandwich, or talking on a cell phone. 

Parents, if these things must be done in the car, teach your student to pull over and stop. Also teach your teen to avoid daydreaming while driving. The price to pay for one momentary indiscretion can be high and permanent.

Look 12 to 30 seconds ahead. New drivers must learn to extend their view beyond the immediate surroundings. Accidents happen because of interruptions in traffic flow. The goal of good driving is to help smooth out traffic flow and keep interruptions to a minimum.

Looking well down the road helps accomplish this. For example a driver looking twelve to thirty seconds ahead will spot road construction in time to make an early adjustment. Looking well ahead also helps in avoiding accidents. If an accident occurs ahead of you, looking well ahead gives more time to avoid becoming part of the problem. Keeping traffic moving smoothly reduces frustration and can also benefit your pocket­book (reducing the number of starts and stops results in better gas mileage).

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Visibility (Continued)

The Smith System

Similar to the SEE-IT process, the Smith System uses five guidelines to improve your awareness of the driving environment. The two methods are not exclusive, they can be incorporated together. The driving situation will determine which method is most beneficial. Where the SEE-IT method addresses potential hazards one at a time, the Smith System gives a broad overview of the driving environment. The five principles of the Smith System are:

Aim High In Steering

Consider that your teen has heard "keep your eyes on the road" for at least 15 years. The inexperienced driver interprets that to mean "look at the road directly in front of the vehicle." Parents, as you drive with your teen, ask him what he sees 20 to 30 seconds ahead.

Get the Big Picture

Similar to the Evaluate step of the SEE-IT process, you need to assimilate everything you see into one big picture. Look for pedestrians, road construction, and changes in the traffic flow. Note anything that might block your vision or otherwise increase your risk.

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Visibility (Continued)

The Smith System

Keep Your Eyes Moving

Rather than blankly staring straight ahead, the driver needs to survey the entire driving environment. Glance left and right. Check the side and rear view mirrors every 20 to 30 seconds. Note what other drivers are doing.

Leave Yourself a Way Out

As you drive, continuously position your vehicle so that you keep a margin of space around it. You have the greatest control over the space to the front of your vehicle. Keeping a good, safe margin to the front will help you avoid a collision in most situations. We will discuss margins more in-depth in Section 5.

Make Sure Others See You

Communicate with other drivers. Make eye contact if appropriate. Use daytime running lights or low-beams to increase your visibility. Use turn signals effectively by applying the signal at least 3 seconds before your maneuver and leave the signal on until you complete the maneuver.

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Discussion questions - Jot down answers to the following questions and keep these notes for your records:

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Visibility (Continued)

Texas Topic - Intersections, Curves, and Hills. The student will utilize basic space and management concepts to adjust speed or the path of travel when approaching controlled and uncontrolled intersections, curves, and hills with line of sight or path of travel limitations.



Objective: The student will describe the aspects of intersections that increase the risk of collision. The student will list the proper procedures for left and right turns. The student will explain why additional caution is required when sharing the road with pedestrians and two wheeled vehicles and list the appropriate steps to take when showing extra caution. The student will explain how to search into a curve and why it is necessary.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Division, twice as many crashes occur at intersections with traffic control devices than at intersections without them. The primary reason is driver error. As a matter of fact, a report published by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety indicates that most collisions at controlled intersections occur after a complete stop because the driver fails to look both ways before proceeding through the intersection. The other driver fails to rec­ognize a stop or yield sign, resulting in a collision. This is where the use of SEE-IT is most beneficial.

Communicate with other drivers. Make eye contact if appropriate. Use daytime running lights or low-beams to increase your visibility. Use turn signals effectively by applying the signal at least 3 seconds before your maneuver and leave the signal on until you complete the maneuver.

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Visibility (Continued)


Drivers must always assume that side traffic will not stop or yield, even if they have the "right of way." The best thing a driver can do to avoid being involved in a collision at an intersection is to look both ways before entering. In fact, look and look again. A quick glance left, right and left will help a driver be prepared for another vehicle that may not yield.

As stated earlier, if you are using SEE-IT, you should be ready to make an evasive move if necessary. Incidentally, the law really never gives anyone the right-of-way; rather, it tells who must yield.

Limited Visibility

When approaching areas of limited line of sight the prudent driver will exercise increased caution and take special care to prevent collisions. Whenever you are unsure of what may lie ahead of you on the road, practice what we call Smart Braking or "covering your brake." Smart Braking is when you take your foot off of the accelerator and position it over the brake pedal. While in this anticipatory position you do not press on the brake pedal, just be prepared in case you see a hazard. Although you will slow down slightly, the value in Smart Braking is the reduction in reaction time to take your foot from the gas pedal to the brake pedal.

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Visibility (Continued)

Limited Visibility

You may also want to flash your lights or honk your horn as you approach a sharp curve in the road that you can not see around. If you are following a large vehicle, increase your following distance to improve your visibility and to allow you more time to react to emergencies. Once you have passed the low visibility area, step on the gas pedal and maintain an appropriate speed.

Left Turns

When making a left turn from a turn lane, drivers should wait at the stop line until there is an opening in traffic; then pull forward and complete the turn. Many drivers perform this maneuver incorrectly by pulling into the middle of the intersection. It is unsafe to wait in the middle of the intersection with the front wheels turned towards the left, as many do. This is the number one cause of vehicle fatalities. There are several reasons why this is dangerous. First, accidents involving left turns usually happen when drivers limit their visibility of oncoming traffic. When a driver pulls forward, visibility of oncoming traffic is partially blocked by vehicles on the opposite side of the intersection.


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Left Turns (Continued)

Second, when a vehicle is caught in the middle of the intersection and the traffic light changes, the driver typically assumes that oncoming traffic will stop. If the assumption is incorrect, a collision occurs. Third, it is unwise to wait at an intersection with the front wheels turned towards the left because if the vehicle is rear-ended, it will be propelled into oncoming traffic.

With the wheels facing straight ahead, there may be time to turn away from oncoming traffic or maybe even to pull out of the lane towards the right, before being rear-ended. Regardless, drivers must never turn the front wheels towards the left while waiting to make a left turn.

Turning Into the Proper Lane

When completing a turn onto a multiple lane road, drivers must select the closest lane to them. When turning onto a street with more than one turning lane, drivers must turn into the first available lane nearest them.

Pets, Playgrounds and Pedestrians

One of the greatest dangers of driving is the unexpected. This is especially true on neighborhood streets. More pedestrians are struck by moving vehicles in neighborhood areas than any other place. Extra caution is needed on the driver's part.

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Pets, Playgrounds and Pedestrians (Continued)

This is another place where SEE-IT is critical. Since pets, children, and even adults are more familiar with their home surroundings, they are more likely to enter the roadway without adequately checking for traffic. Most people simply walk directly across the street to get to a neighbor's house. Most pedestrians are not struck at intersections in rural areas but in front of their homes.

Sometimes a park or playground is across the street from a school. When entering a school zone, pay attention to both sides of the street. Slow down and do not pass another vehicle in the school zone. 

Parents, your job is to teach your teen to scan the road and be prepared to stop at a moment's notice. Always yield right of way to pedestrians, regardless of who's right. Watch for pedestrians near crosswalks, schools, busses, schoolhouses, and parked cars. Always stop behind limit line (don't block crosswalks). Use special care when backing a vehicle. Don't drive in bike lanes, except where permitted.

Did you know that pedestrian/bicycle accidents are the #1 cause of death for ages 8-14? As a pedestrian, you should be constantly aware of your surroundings.

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Pets, Playgrounds and Pedestrians (Continued)

Obey all traffic signals that indicate when you should walk or when you should wait. Always check for vehicles failing to stop. Never forcibly claim the right of way. Cross ONLY at intersections (dont jaywalk) and make sure you are seen by drivers before crossing. Don't assume others will stop when one car has stopped. Always walk on the side of the road that you can face the traffic. Wear bright and/or reflective clothing. Don't wear headphones. Don't walk on railroad tracks.

Two-Wheel Vehicles

Two wheeled vehicles include bicycles, scooters, mopeds, and motorcycles. The biggest complaint of motorized and non-motorized two wheel vehicle riders is that car drivers do not see them. Train your driver to look for more than just cars at intersections.

Many cyclists are injured each year simply because drivers are looking for a car. The cyclist is there, but the image the driver is looking for has four wheels. Anything less simply does not register on the driver's brain. Be alert for movement and for a partial profile of a rider. Look for helmets, wheels, a head or an arm. Train your ears to listen for the sound of the motorcycle engine, which is often louder than a car engine.

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Two-Wheel Vehicles (Continued)


Motorcycles accelerate and brake faster than four wheeled vehicles but the operator is not nearly so well protected. A car-cycle collision will almost always result in the death or serious injury of the cyclist. Motorcycle collisions most often occur when a car is making a left turn in front of a motorcycle.

Motorcyclists are also in a high risk situation when they ride in a vehicle's blind spot. While it is the cyclists responsibility to avoid the driver's "No Zone," it is the driver's responsibility to check the mirror blind spot before the maneuver. In the event of a collision, the motor vehicle operator is almost always at fault.

Bicycles, scooters, and mopeds typically accelerate slower than 4 wheel vehicles, but they stop much faster. Other high risk situations for cyclists include hazardous road conditions such as potholes, railroad tracks, or tree limbs. Weather conditions like rain, snow, or fog and strong winds which may move the cycle out of its lane.

When sharing the road with two wheeled vehicles, car and truck operators must diligently look for two wheeled vehicles and then afford them extra space to stop or maneuver. If you intend to pass the two wheeled vehicle, you must be at least two feet to the left of the vehicle and you must pass at a reasonable speed.

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Two-Wheel Vehicles (Continued)


There are several safety measures you need to take before attempting to ride a motorcycle. Make sure to wear proper, lightly colored riding apparel, including a helmet that fits, heavy jacket (preferably leather), gloves, and leather boots that cover the ankles.

Tires should have good tread and not be dried out and/or cracked. Rims and spokes should be in good condition. Check brakes, clutch and associated controls and cables. Check for gas or oil leaks which can blow onto the back tire and cause a skid. The bike chain should have about one inch of play and be properly lubricated. The horn, headlight, and turn signals should all be checked and working properly.

Ride Defensively

Don't expect to be seen. You should ALWAYS be aware of the road surface, especially when making a turn. Use the front and rear brakes for everything but leisurely stops. When you are in traffic, you should try to follow the path of the left rear wheel of the car in front of you. Consider the balance of the cycle when carrying a passenger.

Should you be lucky enough to ride as a passenger on the back of your friends' motorcycle, there are also certain measures that you need to take before climbing aboard. Do not agree to ride without a helmet that fits your head. If possible, you should wear the same apparel as the driver. It is important to lean with the driver when making turns. This allows the driver better control of the overall situation. ALWAYS keep your feet on the passenger pegs.

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Searching into a Curve

Pay special attention to curves as you approach them. Carefully observing your path of travel, speed, and surroundings will give you more time to test the braking capabilities of your vehicle and determine the most efficient lane position. 

As you approach red lights, reduce speed, pay attention to signs and vehicles around you, and ease off the gas. Coasting, rather than immediately braking will save gas by using the car's weight and momentum to slow you down. When the brake becomes necessary, brake lightly with an even pressure. Take special care in observing the severity of the curve. Watch for and obey all traffic signs indicating a curve ahead and the speed of that curve.

A driver's line of sight is reduced by hills and curves. When your line of sight is limited, so is your path of travel. When preparing for a curve, look ahead towards the end of the curve, so you will know if your path of travel is available. When looking ahead, note any changes that may affect your path of travel. By always searching a curve and looking ahead of it you can constantly evaluate and update your line of sight and path of travel.

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Searching into a Curve (Continued)

Steps to follow before and while driving through a curve:

Always reduce your speed accordingly to the sharpness of the curve. The foot should evenly apply the brake on entry and let up the brake through the central part of curve. When you come out of the curve accelerate to maintain your previous speed. Excessive speed, braking, and swerving are all the major reasons for loss of traction.

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Searching into a Curve (Continued)

Steps to follow before and while driving through a curve:

By positioning your vehicle appropriately within the lane, one can better assess the situation to determine proper speed. As you increase your vehicle's speed, you lose traction. A sharp curve requires more traction, which is why it is necessary to slow during curves.

When approaching a hillcrest, where you can not see the other side, it is recommended that you approach the crest in the right most lane. Check your rearview mirror to make sure that traffic behind you is braking accordingly. Follow the same rules for curves when approaching a hill crest.

It is extremely important to control the vehicle's speed when driving down long, steep grades. Using a lower gear as you descend the hill engages the engine and transmission in speed control and reduces the likelihood of brake failure from overheating. Both automatic and manual transmissions have low gear settings for this purpose. Be sure to check your rear view approximately every six seconds. If you spot a rapidly approaching large vehicle you can assume that they cannot stop. Move out of their way as safely as possible.

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Searching into a Curve (Continued)

Search through the curve

Search 12 seconds ahead for new line of sight and path of travel changes. Maximize your reaction time by looking far into the curve. The further ahead you look, the easier the turn will be. Parents, when evaluating a curve have your teen ask these questions:

Usually problems do not arise in a curve, which results in drivers relaxing their guard. Be sure to always follow the above steps and pay attention, no matter how safe the curve may appear.

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Discussion questions - Jot down answers to the following questions and keep these notes for your records:

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Helping Other Drivers to See You

Objective: The student will list four ways to be better seen by other drivers. The student will list four steps to a proper lane change.

Drivers with good driving habits make it a point not only to see others but also to ensure that others see them. In this section we will discuss strategies to improve your chances of being seen.

Headlights are Not Just for Nights

The single-most effective way to improve your visibility to other drivers is to activate your headlights every time you drive. Many cars now feature daytime running lights or "always-on" headlights. These daytime lighting features reduce your risk in a crash by doubling your visibility to other drivers. They are so effective that many insurance companies will give a discount for vehicles that are equipped with them. If you do not have "always-on" lighting you need to know when your headlights are mandatory. The most obvious time is while night driving. At night the use of headlights is critical; not only to see but to be seen. What are some other times that headlights are important?

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Headlights are Not Just for Nights (Continued)

It is just as important to turn on your headlights while driving in rain or snow during daylight hours. Consider what a driver sees when looking through a car window partially covered with rain, snow, or fog. Drivers are required to pull into traffic (sometimes with less than a second to make their decision) and along comes a car without its lights on. The car may or may not be detected in time. The point is, why take the chance?

The best way to ensure that other drivers will see you (and therefore will not pull out in front you) is to turn your headlights on whenever driving in bad weather or reduced visibility conditions. Most states require drivers to turn their lights on when visibility is below 1000 feet. The number of drivers who do not do this is alarming.

Driving in fog is another situation when an extra effort is needed to ensure other drivers see you. Remember to use low beams in fog or heavy snow. The use of high beams under these conditions results in what is called white-out. White-out is created when the high beams reflect off the fog or snow. It is nearly impossible to see when there is a blanket of white reflection in front of you.

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Headlights are Not Just for Nights (Continued)

Dawn and dusk are also times when headlights are critical. At dawn, some drivers turn their headlights off at the first sign of sunlight. Conversely, these same drivers usually do not turn the headlights on until long after the sun goes down. This is a mistake. Long shadows cast from houses, hills and other structures can make it very difficult for drivers to see a vehicle. This can happen even when the sun has not yet set.

The color of a vehicle can also affect how well it is seen. White, gray or light blue vehicles are more difficult to see when the sun is cresting the horizon. Earth-tone colors, such as brown, tan, and green, are not easily visible when it is overcast at dawn or dusk. Remember, drivers often have less than a second to make a decision.

Without headlights, the decision may be GO, when it should be WAIT. Additionally, if the sun is just on the horizon behind you, other drivers looking in your direction will have a difficult time seeing you. Help them out by turning your lights on.

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Turn Signals

Your lights and turn signals are your best way of communicating with other drivers. Many drivers signal just prior to (and sometimes during) a turn. Is this right or wrong? When should a person signal?

The basic rule for using turn signals is to SIGNAL EARLY. Most states require drivers to signal at least 100 feet before making a turn. If you are traveling over 40 mph, signal at least 200 feet before the turn. 

Parents, since it is difficult to judge exactly how far 100 or 200 feet is, teach your teen this simple rule: signal early enough to allow the person behind you adequate time to recognize your turn signal BEFORE he sees your brake lights. In other words, the driver behind you needs to know you intend to slow down. Signaling three to five seconds before you take an action gives him time to recognize that you are going to put on brakes.

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Turn Signals (Continued)

Can you signal too early? As a matter of fact, you can. Pay attention to the roadway and the available exits. If you signal too early, you may give the impression that you are going to turn on an earlier exit than you intend.

If your turn closely follows another street, driveway, or parking lot entrance, you may want to wait until you are just upon or past the first turn before signaling your turn. You want to avoid communicating that you are turning at the earlier opportunity if you are not actually doing so.

The signal early principle applies to changing lanes as well. Parents, remind your student that as he drives other drivers are trying to predict what he is going to do, just as he is trying to predict what they are going to do.

Early signaling helps eliminate confusion and gives the student driver adequate time to respond. Make sure your teen remembers to cancel the signal after completing a turn or lane change. Giving a false signal can be as much a problem for other motorists as not signaling at all.

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Texas Topic - Lane Changes. The student will utilize basic space management concepts when changing the path of travel and turning the vehicle.

Steps for making a proper lane change:

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Hand Signals

Electronic signals are our primary means of communication while driving. Failure to signal is a ticketable offense. If the electronic signals of a vehicle don't work, or when driving a vehicle without electronic signals (like a bicycle), a driver must use hand signals to communicate intent. Hand signals are accomplished with the driver's left arm out the driver's window. To signal for a right turn or lane change, place your left arm out the window with your elbow bent to point your hand up. A left turn is signaled by placing the left arm out the window pointing to the left. The driver may signal that he or she is stopping or slowing down by placing the left arm out the window and bending the elbow to point the hand down. If you must use hand signals, signal before your turn or maneuver, then use both hands on the steering wheel to execute the maneuver.


Sounding the horn is another way of being seen. Unfortunately, drivers use their horns more often to tell people to get out of the way, rather than to alert others of danger. Parents, teach your teen to be comfortable giving a blast on the horn, if necessary. Remind him to use it to warn, not bulldoze.

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Blind Spots

We talked earlier about checking blind spots. How about avoiding driving in another vehicle's blind spot? It is so important to avoid another driver's blind spot that, for certain vehicles, the mirror blind spot is called a "No Zone." The rule of thumb to stay out of another driver's blind spot is: if you can't see the other driver's face in the left side mirror, then he can't see you, either. If a driver finds himself in this position, he must either speed up or drop back to ensure he is seen. Large trucks and vans have the most difficulty with blind spots.

These blind spots are such a significant problem that they are identified in most states as "No Zones." It is acceptable to give a toot on the horn if they start to drift into your lane. The most important thing to remind your student is, IF YOU CAN'T SEE THE DRIVER'S FACE IN HIS LEFT SIDE MIRROR, ASSUME HE CAN'T SEE YOU.

It is important to understand that the No Zones will move in relation to the truck when the truck makes a right turn. Tractor trailers now carry signs that warn of wide right tuns. The truck driver will signal right and then move to a left or far left lane position before turning to the right. The driver of a passenger vehicle must pay attention to the turn signal and not drive up the right side of the turning truck. As the truck driver turns, the right rear No Zone rotates with the cab of the truck so that it lies along the side of the trailer. A car that encroaches in this No Zone is guaranteed to be forced off the road or collide with the trailer as it turns.

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Discussion questions - Jot down answers to the following questions and keep these notes for your records:

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Texas Topic - Trip Planning. The student will plan, determine routes, predict personal and vehicular needs, and calculate costs for an extended trip.

Planning an Extended Trip - While certain checks should always be made before driving, preparing for an extended trip of several days, some of which will likely be over high speed highways, requires extra preparation.

Preparing the Vehicle:

Loading Considerations:

Basic Equipment:

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Emergency Equipment (Depending On Weather):

Personal Preparation:

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Personal Preparation (Continued):


Planning the Cost of the Trip

The basic costs to be anticipated for any trip include fuel, lodging, meals, and in many cases tolls. By making motel/hotel reservations in advance those expenses can be predetermined, as can tolls, by checking the information provided on state maps or checking with an automobile club.

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Planning the Cost of the Trip (Continued)

Fuel costs can be estimated by determining as closely as possible the number of miles you will be driving to and from your vacation site and then adding 50 to 100 miles to cover local travel and side trips. The miles to and from your destination can be determined by checking the map’s mileage chart, or if that is not provided, adding up the mileage indicated by the miles between points indicated in red and/or black on the map. Having calculated the number of miles to be traveled, divide that number by the average miles per gallon (mpg) the vehicle usually gets.

In addition to these costs there are others such as admission to theme or recreation parks or shows etc. that are planned. While figuring these costs in advance may seem like a lot of trouble, failure to do so can turn a happy trip into a very stressful experience.

Finding Your Way Around

Objective: The student will recognize the common features of maps. The student will learn to use a map or mapping software to plan a trip from one location to the next.

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Finding Your Way Around (Continued)

Maps are available from state and city offices, motor clubs, bookstores, and many service stations. Whether planning a trip out of state or trying to locate an address in a nearby city or your own home town, using a map in advance to determine the best way to get there can make driving less stressful. The sudden braking and/or change of lanes when a driver realizes that he is about to miss his turn has caused many crashes. Unfortunately, many persons either do not take the time or do not know how to use a map.

Map Features

Maps typically contain a chart or legend that explains the markings and symbols.

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Finding Your Way Around (Continued)

State maps have town and city indexes with number/letter coordinates. City maps have street and major points of interest indexes with number/letter coordinates (On both city and state maps, the letters and numbers correspond to the letters and numbers located on the top/bottom and sides of the map).

The internet has made trip planning easier than ever. Online services such as, or Trip Maker allow you to enter a starting and ending destination to generate a map with driving directions. Very often the directions include turn-by-turn diagrams, approximate length of the trip, and an estimate time in transit. Some services can even tell you if a road you have chosen is currently under construction or maintenance.

Other services available use satellite Global Positioning Systems (GPS) to determine your location and give directions to your destination as you drive. These services, such as Onstar, are available with many new cars and rental cars. In spite of these technologies, it is always a good idea to keep a map or atlas in your car which covers the area you will be driving.

To help you learn to read a map, complete the map reading exercises.

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Texas Topic - Right of Way Concepts. The student will know and understand the rules and regulations that determine right of way on Texas roadways and assesses the consequences of not obeying the right of way rules and regulations.

Failure to yield is the number one listed cause of crashes in Texas. These situations include:


Situation 1 - Intersections controlled by signs and signals. When signs and signals control traffic at an intersection, obey them. Know the meaning of these signs and signals, some of which are explained in Chapter 5 of the Texas Drivers Handbook.

Situation 2 - Single or two-lane road intersecting with multiple-lane road. When driving on a single or two-lane road you must yield to: (1) vehicles traveling on a divided street or roadway, or (2) vehicles traveling on a roadway with three or more lanes.

Situation 3 - Unpaved road intersection with a paved road. If you are driving on an unpaved road, which intersects with a paved road, you must yield the right-of-way to vehicles traveling on the paved road.

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Intersections (Continued)

Situation 4 - Intersections not controlled by signs and signals, multiple lanes, or pavement. When approaching an intersection of this type, you should yield the right-of-way to any vehicle which has entered the intersection on your right or is approaching the intersection on your right. If the road to your right is clear, or if approaching vehicles are far enough from the intersection to make your crossing safe, you may proceed. Since there are no traffic controls at this intersection, make sure that there are no approaching vehicles from the left. You may legally have the right-of-way, but you should be sure the other driver yields to you before you proceed.

Situation 5 - Turning left. When turning left you must yield the right-of-way to any vehicles coming straight through from the other direction.

Situation 6 - Private roads and driveways. When entering or crossing a road, street, or highway from a private road, alley, building, or driveway after stopping prior to the sidewalk, you shall yield the rightof- way of all approaching vehicles and pedestrians.

Situation 7 - T-Intersections. When approaching an intersection of a through street that ends at the intersection, first you must stop and then yield the right-of-way to the vehicles on the through street.

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Intersections (Continued)

Situation 8 - Entering or leaving controlled-access highway. The driver of a vehicle proceeding on an access or feeder road (frontage road) of a controlled-access highway shall yield the right-of-way to a vehicle entering or about to enter the road from the highway or leaving or about to leave the road to enter the highway.

Situation 9 - Driving on multiple-lane roadways.—On a roadway divided into three (3) or more lanes providing for one-way movement, a vehicle entering a lane of traffic from a lane to the right shall yield the right-of-way to a vehicle entering the same lane of traffic from a lane to the left.

Situation 10 - Railroad grade crossings. Texas law requires obedience to a signal indicating approach of a train. Whenever any person driving a vehicle approaches a railroad grade crossing, the driver of such vehicle shall stop within fifty (50) feet but not less than fifteen (15) feet from the nearest rail of such railroad.

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Special Situations

Situation A - Give the Right-of-Way to Emergency Vehicles. You must yield the right-of-way to police cars, fire trucks, ambulances, and other emergency vehicles which are sounding a siren or bell or flashing a red light by pulling to the right edge of the roadway and stopping. In the event traffic is so congested as to prevent you from safely doing so, slow down and leave a clear path for the emergency vehicle.

Situation B - Give the Right-of-Way to School Busses. Drive with care when you are near a school bus. If you approach a school bus from either direction and the bus is displaying alternately flashing red lights, you must stop and not pass until (1) the school bus has resumed motion, or (2) you are signaled by the driver to proceed, or (3) the red lights are no longer flashing.

Situation C - Yield the Right-of-Way to Pedestrians. Don’t make your car into a deadly weapon. You should always be on the lookout for people on foot whether or not they have the right-of-way. Drivers must stop.

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Right of Way

Objective: The student will define right-of-way and list nine common rules of right-of-way.

Having established visibility principals and basic map use, now we will begin discussion of the rules of the road and the driver's Right of Way. Certainly we would all like the idea that we own the road and all traffic should defer to us; but that is just not reasonable. There are times when a driver will be forced to yield access to the roadway to fellow motorists. There are several instances when you, the driver, will have the right-of-way and other times, you must yield (defer right of way to the other driver). Let's look at a few situations and discuss what action is to be taken.

Controlled Intersections (intersections with signals or signs). Signals and signs must always be obeyed.

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Controlled Intersections (intersections with signals or signs) (Continued)

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Controlled Intersections (intersections with signals or signs) (Continued)

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Discussion questions - Jot down answers to the following questions and keep these notes for your records:

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Railroad Safety

Objective: The student will list two kinds of passive railroad warnings and two active railroad warnings. The student will describe the dangers inherent in ignoring rail warnings or misusing railroad tracks.

Intersections or Crossings that Require Special Stops

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Intersections or Crossings that Require Special Stops (Continued)

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Operation Lifesaver-Train Safety

Operation Lifesaver, Inc., is a nationwide, nonprofit public information and education organization dedicated to eliminating collisions, injuries, and fatalities at highway-rail grade crossings and trespassing on railroad rights-of-way.  All 49 continental United States and the District of Columbia have ongoing, statewide Operation Lifesaver programs.  These programs have contributed significantly to a more than 60 percent reduction in crashes and casualties since 1972, despite a nationwide increase in train and vehicle traffic. We have teamed up with Operation Lifesaver to spread the word on railroad safety.

Every driver needs to understand the dangers associated with railroad tracks and crossings. Here are some facts:

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Operation Lifesaver-Train Safety (Continued)

Passive signs like these are placed in advance of the railroad crossing to warn drivers before they arrive at the crossing.

Passive signs such as the railroad crossbuck and stop signs are found at the railroad crossing. Passive warnings also include stop lines and painted railroad crossing lane markings.

Active signs (and signals) will flash lights or lower a gate to prevent collisions. A crossing with an active sign might look like the figure below.

How can you interact safely with rail vehicles? Follow these tips from Operation Lifesaver:

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Operation Lifesaver-Train Safety

More tips from Operation Lifesaver:

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Distracted Driving

Objective: The student will list five major causes of distracted driving. The student will describe strategies to reduce driving distractions.

Today we see a lot of emphasis on multi-tasking. At school or in the office, this can be a big plus. When driving, however, it is a deadly mistake. Multi-tasking ends when the driver sits behind the wheel of the car because driving is a task that cannot be shared.

There are so many pieces to the task of driving that you cannot afford to spare any of your attention to reading, shaving, make-up, or eating. Below, we address the more common tasks that interfere with your ability to focus on driving.

One distraction that most people overlook is caused by passengers. Children especially can be a source of distraction. Small children may not understand that the driver must focus on the task of driving. They may become bored or restless and want the driver to give them more attention than he or she safely can. A small child may ask for help with a dropped toy, complain of hunger or thirst, or just want to be held.

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Distracted Driving (Continued)

Older children may fight with one another or try to take their seatbelts off. Teenagers have been know to roughhouse, sing loudly, dance in the car, hang out of windows, or even deliberately annoy the driver. Did you know that new teen drivers are twice as likely to be in a collision if they have one teen passenger? The statistics are worse for multiple teen passengers.

Establish rules for riding in the car before moving the vehicle. Enforce seat belt rules when you drive. Every passenger should know he/she is required to wear a seatbelt or safety restraint at all times while riding in the vehicle. No passenger is allowed to obscure or hinder the driver's ability to see and hear the surrounding roadway and traffic. The radio should be activated and adjusted at the driver's discretion only.

Keep the radio volume low enough to hear sirens from approaching emergency vehicles. Do not let conversation with passengers, passenger needs, or other passenger actions compromise the safety of your vehicle. If it means pulling off the road to handle a passenger need, then do so. A driver who makes clear rules for his/her car is not being rude; he is being safe and responsible.

Provide safe, quiet distractions for passengers and they will be less likely to distract the driver. Books, audio tapes, portable movie players, and quiet games are great ways to engage young and old passengers alike. Frequent stops will also help passengers stay comfortable during a trip.

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Distracted Driving (Continued)

Technology and Texting

Technology has become a major distraction for today's drivers. Cell phones, pagers, PDA's, texting devices, laptop computers and even portable DVD players are contributing to as many collisions as alcohol use.

Drivers must develop the self discipline to turn off portable electronic devices and resist talking on the phone or texting while driving. Even voice activated and hands free devices create a mental distraction that interferes with the driver's ability to identify hazards, predict collisions, decide on collision avoidance strategies and execute precision maneuvers and anything that takes your mind off of the SEE-IT process creates a greater risk for collisions. We strongly recommend that drivers always silence their phones and pagers to reduce the temptation to answer the phone or respond to a text message.

One distraction in particular is so common that many states have enacted laws to prevent it-cell phone use (to include text messaging). These laws prohibit the use of cell phones, even if they are considered to be hands-free, and the ban on cell-phone usage while driving is considered a secondary violation, similar to safety belt laws.

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Distracted Driving (Continued)

Technology and Texting (Continued)

Portable game systems, E-book readers, DVD players, navigation systems, and electronic organizers are also on the growing list of electronic devices which, like cell phones, are not compatible with driving. Even voice operated and hands free devices take the driver's attention from road, weather, and traffic conditions-although not to the same extent. Nevertheless, they are illegal for use by teenage drivers and should be strictly limited in their use by more experienced drivers. If a driver must use a portable electronic device, such as a cell phone, the driver should pull over and stop the car or have a passenger use the device.

Texting while driving is deadly. There is no argument over this statement. Don't text and Drive. It could cost you your life.

Other Distractors

Drowsiness has also been found to cause as many crashes as alcohol use.  The gentle vibration of the moving vehicle is often all that is needed to make a drowsy person fall asleep.  A driver who falls asleep behind the wheel is a hazard to himself and everyone else in the driving environment.  He may slow down and he will most likely drift out of his lane (this is why modern highway construction includes rumble strips on the right shoulder).

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Distracted Driving (Continued)

Other Distractors (Continued)

The only sure way to solve the problem of drowsiness is to get adequate sleep.  Caffeine can increase a driver’s alertness for about 30 minutes, but the driver risks being even more tired when the caffeine wears off.  Frequent stops to stand and stretch can also increase a driver’s alertness, but the body will continue to demand sleep until it gets sleep.   

To prevent drowsy driving, avoid driving between midnight and 5 am and avoid long trips after a long, stressful day.  Try to get a full night’s rest before any day that will require more than 2 hours in the car.  Adequate sleep is essential before a family vacation or road trip (be sure to also plan the trip and include directions and a map or GPS device).

Some safety experts think that vehicle in-dash controls may be the most dangerous distractions of all.  As the driver gains familiarity with the radio, air conditioning, lighting, and other comfort setting controls, he or she is more likely to make adjustments to these systems while driving.

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Distracted Driving (Continued)

Other Distractors (Continued)

These kinds of adjustments are best made before beginning a trip or while the vehicle is stopped. Portable music players now give drivers the ability to customize their own driving “soundtrack” and resist the urge to change radio stations while driving.  While this is good, the driver must resist the urge to change music while the vehicle is moving.

When driving a rental car or other unfamiliar vehicle, the driver should take time to learn where the in-dash controls are and what they do.  If an adjustment is absolutely necessary, the driver must be able to make the adjustment without taking his or her eyes from the road.  Still, the safest alternative is to make adjustments when the vehicle is not moving.

Pets are another distraction that can usually be safely and easily managed. Many pet specialty stores have customized harnesses that buckle the pet into the vehicle. At a minimum, one should transport a pet in a pet cage or carrying cage. A small animal allowed to roam freely in the car can jump on the driver, obscure the driver's view or crawl to the driver's feet and interfere with the use of the accelerator and brake pedals.

Perhaps the most compelling reason to harness or cage a pet in a vehicle comes from collision data. In a collision, an unsecured pet dog or cat becomes a missile. The animal almost never survives impact with the car interior or being thrown from the vehicle. There are documented cases of animal claws or teeth becoming imbedded in the back or side of an occupants head as it flew through the car, panicking and struggling to survive. While it may seem mean to lock a dog or cat in a carrying cage, it is meaner still to leave it loose in a moving vehicle.

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Discussion questions - Jot down answers to the following questions and keep these notes for your records:

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Portable Technology Devices (Continued)

Vehicle Accessories

Modern features and technology in vehicles are more of a distraction when the driver is unfamiliar with the vehicle. Adjusting accessories such as radios, CD players, MP3 players, and portable navigation systems will take your attention away from your path of travel.

When driving a particular car for the first time, adjust and familiarize yourself with vehicle accessories while parked. Seat and mirror positions must be adjusted before moving the vehicle to establish a safe, comfortable driving position with optimum visibility. Refrain from making adjustments to vehicle accessories while the vehicle is moving. It is a good idea to prohibit the use of luxury or entertainment accessories for the first few hours driving an unfamiliar vehicle.

Portable Technology Devices

One distraction in particular is so common that many states have enacted laws to prevent it-cell phone use (to include text messaging). These laws prohibit the use of cell phones, even if they are considered to be hands-free, and the ban on cell-phone usage while driving is considered a secondary violation, similar to safety belt laws.

Portable game systems, E-book readers, DVD players, navigation systems, and electronic organizers are also on the growing list of electronic devices which, like cell phones, are not compatible with driving. Even voice operated and hands free devices take the driver's attention from road, weather, and traffic conditions-although not to the same extent.

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Portable Technology Devices (Continued)

Nevertheless, they are illegal for use by teenage drivers and should be strictly limited in their use by more experienced drivers. Cell Phone use is prohibited in Texas for minors except for an emergency. If a driver must use a portable electronic device, such as a cell phone, the driver should pull over and stop the car or have a passenger use the device.

Insects and Animals

Most of the time, wildlife will not interfere with driving; however, on the rare occasions when wildlife causes a distraction, you must still drive safely and keep your attention on your path of travel. Animals outside your vehicle may distract you in a variety of ways. Animals in the road are not just a distraction; they may well be a hazard to be avoided. Animals on the side of the road are a concern in as much as you do not want them to enter your path of travel. Show the same care and concern as you would for a parked car or any other road-side hazard by reducing speed and giving extra space on the side of your lane with the animal.

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Insects and Animals (Continued)

Bugs and insects distract drivers typically in one of two ways: causing fear or obstructing visibility. An insect inside the vehicle may evoke fear from the driver. Instead of panicking, the driver should pull over to the side of the road before attempting to release or kill the bug.

Opening a window while the vehicle is moving may seem like a good idea, but it could result in the insect flying into a person's mouth, hair, or clothing and heightening the fear or anxiety in the car.

Bugs and insects may distract a driver by obstructing his or her visibility when they impact the vehicle's windshield. The splattered creature may provide an array of interesting colors and textures on the windshield, but the driver should not be concerned with the residue except for its removal with wiper fluid and the windshield wipers.

In extreme cases, the driver may pass through a swarm of insects and the wipers may not be much help. An example of this situation is the annual love-bug migration across Florida highways.

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Driver Behaviors

Experienced drivers become comfortable drivers and comfortable drivers often overestimate their ability to share their attention between driving and other tasks. The road demands all of a driver's attention. A safe driver can not afford to devote any mental resources to non-driving activities such as eating, shaving, applying make-up, styling hair, reading a book, or smoking.

Perhaps you are wondering how such routine activities can be a significant distraction. While the act of placing food in your mouth and chewing do not directly impact driving, the possibility of spilling food or drink and the possibility of choking are enough to seriously impact one's ability to drive.

Grooming actions, like applying make-up or shaving, clearly demonstrate a driver who is more concerned with him or her self than sharing the road with other traffic. Smoking, aside from proven detrimental health effects, takes a driver's hand off the steering wheel, produces coughing, reduces visibility, and presents the additional hazard of hot ashes. Driver's who have one hand on a cigarette, one hand on a cell phone, and steer the wheel with their knees are a fast paced collision waiting to happen.

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DISTRACTED DRIVING PROJECT (optional) - Click here to print out an optional distracted driving project.

DRIVING BEHAVIORS WORKSHEET Click here to print out the driving behaviors worksheet.

Parents, activities help your teen to retain knowledge. Consider the following activities and choose some for your student to complete. Activities marked by a double asterisk (**) are preferred for your teens course completion.

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When you get behind the wheel after Section 3, you should focus on each point below and master them before proceeding to the next section:

The Student Driver:

  • Possesses a valid Texas driver license or instruction permit.

  • Performs routine vehicle checks and adjustments to alert symbols, warning symbols and vehicle control and safety devices.

  • Locates, identifies and responds appropriately to alter symbols, warning symbols and vehicle control and safety devices.

  • Performs starting and securing procedures.

  • Steers the vehicle within given spaces utilizing proper steering techniques and hand positioning.

  • Pulls to and from the curb line.

  • Backs the car straight, left, and right utilizing correct hand position and steering techniques.

  • Demonstrates the ability to position the front side and rear of the vehicle within given distances or a fixed location.

  • Recognizes and manages hidden spaces and limitations to the front, rear and sides of the vehicle by establishing sightline, path or travel and target line references.

  • Establishes placement while moving or stopped and executes turning or parking maneuvers by utilizing vehicular visual reference points.

  • Determines appropriate line position, gap selection and speed.

  • Explores mirror use and space management areas.

  • Describes and utilizes vehicle balance, techniques when braking, accelerating and steering.

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Behind the wheel and Supervised Practice:

PARENTS, Print out the Guidelines for Behind-the-Wheel Instruction. This will be used while conducting the drivers evaluation on the student.

Please print out and use The Driver Evaluation document to examine your students progress while behind-the-wheel training. While the student is completing driving hours, they must be recorded in the Drive Time Log Sheet for this level. Print out the Instructions for entering information in the Drive Time Log Sheet.

Are you ready for your Section 3 test? After you have passed your test, you may move on to the next section. You may not continue until you have passed your test with a 70% or above. Good luck!

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