Section 5 Review


Texas Topics

Section 5 - Maintaining Space

Objective: In this section, we will learn the value of keeping space around the vehicle front, back and sides. We will refer to these spaces as margins. Once this chapter is complete, your student will be able to effectively judge safe distances from the front, rear and sides of the vehicle. Keeping a safe margin between you and other vehicles or objects allows more space (time) in which to react, thereby greatly reducing the chance of being involved in a collision. This lesson will also address driver and passenger protection, side curtain airbags, child passenger restraints and restraining animals. After studying this section, students should be familiar with many different types of restraints and how to operate them properly.

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Vehicle Space Maintenance

Objective: The student will identify two margins of space around the vehicle and explain which is the most important for collision prevention. The student will explain the three-second rule and why it is used. The student will describe collision prevention strategies for driving in "less than optimum" conditions.

Margin to the Front

Probably the most important margin affecting your safety is the margin to the front. This is also the margin that you have most control over. Most frontal crashes result from lack of adequate margins to the front.

Have you ever wondered why a dozen or more cars rear end each other at one time? It is simple-they were following too close to each other. How close is too close?

A lot of drivers still use the rule of one car-length per 10 miles per hour. Traffic safety folks have since decided that this is too ambiguous. After all, what is a car length? Is it the length of a Cadillac or a Volkswagen?

The easiest, most effective way to determine a proper following distance is by using the Three-Second Rule. The Three-Second Rule gives you adequate distance to stop under most driving conditions.

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Margin to the Front (Continued)

Practicing the Three-Second Rule is simple. When the car you are following reaches the shadow of a bridge or pole, or passes an object on the side of the road, begin counting, one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three. If you reach the same shadow or object before you get to one thousand three, you are following too closely. Drop back until you are at a proper distance. On highways or interstates at speeds over 40 miles per hour, increase your following distance to one second for every 10 miles per hour. At 50 miles per hour you would have a 5 second space cushion.

When you do drop back, sometimes other cars will pull into that space. Parents, teach your teen to let the other car in. With traffic congestion so severe, the effect on your time is negligible and certainly not worth the risk of a collision.

The real difficulty here is that in many cities the majority of drivers do not follow this rule. DO NOT GET LULLED INTO A FALSE SENSE OF SECURITY! Just because other drivers are not using the rule does not mean they are driving safely. They generally won't recognize the error of their ways until they are standing in the street discussing their insurance policy with another driver.

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Margin to the Front (Continued)

A new driver must also maintain a good front margin when stopped at a stop sign or light. Foremost, this will protect the vehicle if it is hit from behind. Many drivers do not consider the front margin when they are stopped. Remember, a vehicle with a standard transmission may roll back before moving forward from a stop. This is especially important on steep hills.

Margin to the Rear

In addition to helping you avoid rear-ending someone, the Three-Second Rule also helps you avoid being rear-ended. Most rear-end collisions happen when there are sudden interruptions in traffic flow. When you allow enough following distance so that you don't have to make a sudden stop, then the vehicles behind are less likely to hit you. In fact, if another vehicle is following too closely, leave an even greater margin to the front.

Texas Topics

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Less than Optimum Conditions

Remember that the Three-Second Rule is based upon the best reaction time, brakes and road conditions for stopping. What happens if you are feeling ill, or your brakes (or the road) are not in the best condition? The vehicle in front of you is probably equipped with an Anti-lock Brake System (ABS enables a car to stop in shorter distances than regular brakes). 

If your car does not have ABS, you need a larger margin. These are the conditions when the Three-Second Rule may not be enough. Teach your teen to allow an even greater margin.

The best thing to do when you are feeling ill is to not drive until you feel better. Of course, there will be times when you have to drive anyway. During these times, leave a greater margin to the front. Figured into the Three-Second Rule is your reaction time; that is, the time you will take to recognize a hazard and then get your foot on the brake. You must allow more time to react when ill or fatigued.

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Less than Optimum Conditions (Continued)

It is foolish to tailgate; it is especially foolish to tailgate during inclement weather. Fog, rain, snow or icy road conditions also require greater stopping distances. Stopping distances may be doubled or tripled during snowy and icy conditions. Even during rainy conditions, stopping distances can be dramatically increased.

Young drivers need to develop enough mental strength to not let other drivers dictate how he drives. Parents, even during inclement weather, some drivers will not allow proper following distances. Their mistakes should not become your teen's problem. Your student should continue to travel at a safe distance, regardless of what others may do.

A vehicle with anti-lock brakes can stop a lot faster than one without. Motorcycles can also stop faster than cars. Remind your teen of this as you follow other vehicles. You cannot tell whether another driver has anti-lock brakes or not, but you can tell when it is a motorcycle. The best thing to do is to allow a little more than three seconds whenever driving. One can easily do this by counting a little slower.

Now print out and complete the Braking Activity Sheet.

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

Explain in paragraph form why you chose your answer and describe how that method works.

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Margin to the Sides

Objective: The student will explain how management of side margins can reduce the risk of collisions. The student will determine time and space needs for passing and explain strategies for safely being passed.

The front and rear are not the only margins you should be concerned about. There are others. How about the margins to the sides? To have more options, set yourself apart from others. Make the effort to not drive in crowds.

When cars travel in dense packs, evasive maneuvers become nearly impossible to safely negotiate. A driver in a crowd with cars in front and on both sides should adjust speed and position until no longer surrounded.

Perhaps moving to the left would provide a greater margin and increase options. As your teen drives, he needs to continually scan the driving environment for possible hazards. As he scans,have him predict what might happen. Be ready to make an evasive maneuver if necessary.

As stated earlier, whenever there are children near the roadside, the first thing to do is slow down. Slowing will prevent the front margin from diminishing too rapidly. Parked cars, shrubbery, trees, etc., are all objects that can hide children or pets who can enter your path without warning.

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Blind Spots

We talked earlier about blind spots. Remember, to allow a great enough margin to stay out of another driver's blind spot. IF YOU CANNOT SEE THE OTHER DRIVER'S FACE IN HIS REARVIEW MIRROR, HE CAN'T SEE YOU!

Texas Topic - Passing. The student will synthesize information and apply critical thinking, decision-making, and problem-solving skills to select and safely execute speed and position adjustments for passing another vehicle.



Before making any passing maneuver, drivers should ask if the pass is necessary. Many drivers pass just because they hate to have anyone in front of them. They are the same drivers who pass you at a high rate of speed, only to be passed by you at the next intersection. As a driver, first ask yourself, " Is this pass necessary? "Second, ask yourself, "is this pass legal and safe?" Passing should only be attempted when road markings allow and then only when it is safe to do so. Passing is not allowed when approaching the crest of a hill or where the view is obstructed, such as a sharp curve.

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Blind Spots (Continued)

If you answer yes to the first two questions, the third question you must ask yourself is, "Do I have enough time to pass safely?" When attempting to pass on a two-lane road, drop back to see oncoming traffic clearly. Estimate the time you need to pass before executing the maneuver. The formula for determining the time it will take to pass is: T=d/t where T is the time to pass, d is the distance traveled to complete the pass, and t is the difference in distance traveled per second by each vehicle.

Special Situations when passing

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Special Situations when passing (Continued)

Example:You are driving on a rural highway with a speed limit of 40 mph. The car in front of you is only traveling 30 mph. You want to pass this car. How much time will it take?

Given that: The other driver is traveling 30 mph or 45 feet per second (fps). At 40 mph, you travel approximately 60 fps. The difference in distance traveled per second is 15 fps.To cover your three second following distance of 180 feet, the other car's car length of 15 feet (average) and gain a one second lead of 60 feet, you will need to travel a total distance of 255 feet to complete the pass.

Thus: Using our formula, T=d/t: Time to pass = 255 feet / 15 feet per second = 17 seconds. Your total distance to pass is 17 seconds x 60 fps or 1200 feet.

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Special Situations when passing (Continued)

You only want you to pass when it is absolutely necessary. If you must exceed the speed limit to pass the other vehicle, the pass is probably not necessary. When another vehicle is approaching you in the lane you must use to pass, you can effectively double your passing distance requirement because, over the required 23 seconds (in this example), the oncoming vehicle traveling 65 mph will also travel 2242.5 feet.

You must complete the pass before that vehicle reaches the point where you will change back to your lane. With an oncoming vehicle, your passing distance requirement at 65 mph is 4485 feet or about 4 fifths of a mile.

Passing is one more situation in which the use of headlights during daylight hours is critical. The combined distance traveled by the passing and oncoming vehicle at 60 mph is 38 seconds, or 3,344 feet. Without headlights on, an approaching vehicle may not become visible until it is within 2,200 to 2,500 feet. This is in contrast to about 4,500 feet with headlights or daytime running lights illuminated. The difference in enhanced visibility can be critical.

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Special Situations when passing (Continued)

When you pass, use the lane change process outlined in Section 3. Do not return to your lane until you can see the front end of the car you are passing in your rearview mirror. This will allow a safe distance between your vehicle and the vehicle you just passed (The side view mirror reflects a distorted image). It is better not to pass at all than to attempt to pass without enough time.

Among truck drivers, the signal for intending to pass is to blink one's headlights. Turning the headlights off then on quickly will alert another driver of the intent to pass. Normally, the driver will move right to provide extra space. Often, when the passing vehicle has cleared the truck and it is safe to return to the right lane, the truck driver will blink his or her headlights to alert the passing driver to come on over.

Being Passed

Some drivers resent being passed. Some resent being passed so much that they speed up to prevent the passing driver from getting in front of them. This is a dangerous move and it is specifically prohibited by the law.

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Being Passed (Continued)

When being passed, decrease speed slightly to allow the passing driver the opportunity to complete the maneuver as quickly as possible. Assume a right lane position to give the other driver a little more room. Be ready to adjust your following distance once passed.

Parked Cars

Drivers should avoid driving close to parked cars. This is also an area where a margin of safety is important. Many drivers do not check traffic, as they should, before opening their car doors or stepping out of a vehicle. Allow more room by using your left lane position or try to drive in the left lane when parked cars are along the street.

Keep in mind though; the left lane is reserved for faster traffic. If only one lane is available, try to move as far to the left as safely possible and use scanning techniques to pick up any movement to the right side of the road. All the while, be ready to stop.

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

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Another Way to Manage Space Maintenance

Objective: The student will analyze the zone system of space maintenance. The student will discuss three strategies for collision avoidance. The student will list three passenger protection technologies and describe how they are used.

In the previous section, we described vehicle space maintenance in terms of four margins; your most important margin being the margin to the front. Space maintenance can also be described in terms of 6 zones. Some schools of thought name the zones in terms of colors, some use numbers. For the sake of simplicity, we will refer to the zones by their spatial relationship to the car. We will call our vehicle the "Central" position. The zones are then referred to as Front, Left Front, Right Front, Left Rear, Right Rear, and Rear.

As you drive, you can integrate these zones in the SEE-iT process we talked about in Section 3. Your search pattern should include these six areas. Look out your windshield to the Front, Left Front, and Right Front as you drive along and check your mirrors for your Left Rear, Right Rear, and Rear.

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Another Way to Manage Space Maintenance (Continued)

As you drive, you can integrate these zones in the SEE-iT process we talked about in Section 3. Your search pattern should include these six areas. Look out your windshield to the Front, Left Front, and Right Front as you drive along and check your mirrors for your Left Rear, Right Rear, and Rear.

Identify whether each of these zones is open, closed, or changing. An open zone is an area that has no restrictions to your line of sight (visibility) or your path of travel (physical obstacles). An open front zone could be a flat roadway with no vehicles in front of you.

closed zone is not available to your path of travel or has an obstruction to your vision. For instance, you may drive up to an intersection in your neighborhood where the corner house on the right side has a six foot wooden privacy fence around the yard. Your right front zone as you approach the fence is a closed zone because the fence obstructs your view. A tailgater provides us with another example of a closed zone; the rear zone.

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Another Way to Manage Space Maintenance (Continued)

changing zone is an open zone that is becoming a closed zone or a closed zone that is developing additional obstacles or obstructions. One simple example of a changing zone occurs when another car passes you. As the car travels up your left side, your Left Rear and Left Front zones will change from open to closed zones. If the car pulls into your lane, your Front zone will close.

Road construction provides another good example of changing zones. If a lane is closed off because of construction, as you approach that lane, it will change from open to closed. As other vehicles move from the closing lane to your lane, your front zone may change. If there is a lane available for you to change to, you may want to do so to keep your Front zone open.

As you determine the proper lane and lane position to be in, check all six zones. You may desire to change to a lane on your left and the left front zone may be open, but if another vehicle is in your left rear zone, you can not safely change lanes. Remember to use SEE-iT and check for hazards all around your vehicle.

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Collision Avoidance

Proper vehicle space maintenance is the first step in avoiding collisions. Vehicle collisions, however, may involve multiple parties and a driver has to be prepared to maneuver out of the path of a potential collision. The three operator inputs (steering, braking, and acceleration) can be used to avoid potential collisions with other drivers when one can not control them with adequate margins.


To avoid or minimize damage from a side impact, do not brake and stay in the vehicle path. Instead, accelerate to move out of the way of the oncoming vehicle or move the point of impact back behind the passengers and towards the trunk. Accelerating will not help with frontal or near frontal impacts and may not be appropriate for imminent rear-end collisions because of other traffic.


When one is unable to steer to the side or accelerate to avoid a collision, braking may be the best option. At speeds under 25mph, it takes less time / space to stop than to steer out of trouble. One should stop fast but not in a way to cause wheel lockup. Vehicles with older braking systems require a technique called threshold braking to stop quickly without wheel lockup.

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Braking (Continued)

Threshold braking requires the driver to sense how the brakes are working through his/her foot. The driver should keep the right heel on the floor and use the ball of the right foot to brake. Squeeze the brake pedal with firm steady pressure until the "threshold" of lockup (just before the wheels lock). If the brakes lock, the driver should ease off the pedal two or three degrees and squeeze down again, firmly but more gently. This process is continued until the desired speed is reached.

"Pumping the brakes" is the sloppy version of threshold braking; where the driver does not seek the threshold of lockup and apply the brakes to that point. Rather, in pumping the brakes, the driver firmly applies and releases the brakes repeatedly until the desired speed is reached. While threshold braking or pumping the brakes, the driver should not steer. Steering in conjunction with either of these techniques could cause a loss of vehicle control that results in a collision instead of avoiding one.

Most vehicles built today are equipped with an Anti-lock Brake System (ABS). The ABS is a computerized system that monitors the wheels for lockup and applies and releases brake pressure as necessary. To stop quickly with ABS brakes, simply apply firm steady pressure to the brake pedal. A secondary function of ABS is that it Allows Braking and Steering. The driver of a vehicle with ABS may safely steer out of danger while braking.

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When one does not have time to stop before a hazard and accelerating will not help (i.e. the hazard is to the front), he/she will have to steer out of the path of danger. Steering to the left to avoid a hazard will throw the driver into oncoming traffic. Steer to the right if possible and follow these steps:

Locations to watch for trouble

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Protecting Your Passengers

Risk of injury in a collision is determined by the force of impact. Force of impact is driven by three factors:

Speed of the Vehicle - Obviously, the faster the vehicle is traveling, the greater the potential for injury in a collision. Many drivers do not realize that the force of impact does not directly correspond to the increase in speed; rather it corresponds exponentially to the increase in speed. For instance the force of impact at 20 miles per hour is 4 times the force of impact at 10 mph. Double the speed equals 4 times the force of impact; similarly, triple the speed equals 9 times the force of impact.

The Weight of the Vehicle - Heavier vehicles hit harder. The heavier vehicle has a greater momentum, and therefore, must release a greater amount of kinetic energy in a sudden stop or in an impact.

Impact Distance - This is the distance between the first impact with an object and place where the vehicle completely stops. A longer impact distance will result in less damage because the vehicle's kinetic energy is spent over a larger surface area. Conversely, a shorter impact distance results in a greater force of impact because all the kinetic energy is spent at once.

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Protecting Your Passengers (Continued)

A driver facing an imminent collision cannot affect the weight of the vehicle in any practical way. To reduce the force of impact, and therefore the potential for damage, the driver must try to reduce the speed of impact or increase the impact distance.

A driver can utilize brake technology such as ABS to reduce the speed of impact. Steering away from immovable objects toward softer objects such as shrubbery will increase the impact distance.

The government also looks for ways to reduce impact forces in the Highway Transportation System. One measure is to use sand canisters in front of concrete barriers on highways. At impact, the sand canister breaks apart and absorbs some of the vehicles' momentum. This reduces the speed of the vehicle and increases the impact distance.

Vehicles are also built with features that increase the impact distance by absorbing energy. These features include crumple zones (areas in the car frame designed to give or crumple on impact), padded dashboards, and passenger protection technologies such as head restraints, airbags, and safety belts.

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Protecting Your Passengers (Continued)

After reading Section 2, you should have a complete understanding of how beneficial seatbelts are. Each year, seatbelt use saves thousands of lives and prevents millions of injuries. The seatbelt is supposed to minimize the impact of the "second collision" or "human collision" in a crash (The first collision is that of the vehicle and an outside force. The second collision is that of the occupant with the vehicle, or the body in motion).

The seatbelt holds the occupant in the car, preventing ejection, and slows the occupant down by distributing the force of collision across durable parts of the body, the chest and pelvis. The seatbelt webbing is made of a flexible material that will stretch slightly with the force of a heavy impact. The distribution of pressure and slight stretching allow the seatbelt to restrain occupants with minimal injury. Most seatbelt related injuries amount to bruising or friction burns. Injuries related to not using a seatbelt are severe and often fatal.

Be sure you understand the importance of buckling properly. Make sure the lap belt is taut across the occupant's lap. The shoulder strap should reach over the shoulder, cross the chest (passing over the sternum) and into the lap buckle. Keep your seatback in an upright position to avoid a "submarine effect" in the event of a crash. 

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Protecting Your Passengers (Continued)

Ninety degrees reflects a straight back perpendicular to the seat-not always a comfortable position. One hundred to 115 degrees offers optimal comfort and safety. Drivers who recline their seatbacks beyond 115 degrees have slid through the seatbelt in a crash and suffered severe injuries.

As you drive or ride, periodically check your safety belt and adjust it to keep a snug fit. In the event of sudden movement by the car, the belts will lock in place to prevent the occupants from ejecting from the vehicle or crashing into the seat or dash in front of them.

Most seatbelts have a retractor mechanism that allows an occupant to extend the belt to move about in the seat. Leaning forward pulls on the belt and (generally) causes a spring to unwind. When the occupant leans back in the seat, the belt automatically retracts, or pulls back; to take up slack as the spring winds up to it's normal state. The retractor will also have a locking mechanism to hold the seatbelt in place in case of sudden changes in the vehicle velocity (speed and direction of travel).

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Protecting Your Passengers (Continued)

There are two types of locking mechanisms commonly used today. The first includes systems that are triggered by car movement. The second includes systems triggered by the belt's movement. The kind that depend on car movement usually have a weighted pendulum.

In the case of a sudden stop, the pendulum swings forward. A pawl on the other end of the pendulum moves up and catches hold of a ratchet gear attached to the end of the belt spool. When the gear is caught on the pawl, the spool can not rotate counter-clockwise and the belt can not extend.

The second system, triggered by belt movement, locks the belt if the spool rotates faster than a certain speed. In this model, a centrifugal clutch is designed to pivot a lever when something yanks the seatbelt webbing. The extended lever pushes a cam piece on the retractor housing. As the cam shifts, it pulls a pawl into the spinning ratchet gear attached to the belt spool and locks the gear teeth, preventing counter rotation.

The latest generation of seatbelt systems uses a pretensioner to tighten the belt webbing. The pretensioner mechanism tightens up slack in the belt webbing by pulling on the belt in the event of a collision.

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Protecting Your Passengers (Continued)

The pulling action places the seat occupant in the optimal seat position for a crash. Pretensioners work in concert with conventional locking systems and are typically wired to the same control that activates the air bags. Some pretensioners operate off of electric motors but most use pyrotechnics to pull the belt webbing. One example of a pyrotechnic pretensioner is the ball pretensioner.

When the vehicle senses a collision, the pretensioner is activated by an electric current in a combustible gas chamber. The gas ignites and expands forcing metal balls down a chute into a reservoir. As the balls move down the chute, they turn a gear wheel attached to the seat belt reel. As the real turns, the seat belt is pulled back and the occupant is positioned more safely for the crash.

Vehicle seats with head restraints should be adjusted properly also. The head restraint should be positioned directly behind the occupants head. If it is too low, it can cause neck injury and contribute to whiplash. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety studied head restraint use in September, 2003.

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Protecting Your Passengers (Continued)

Their subsequent article stated:

A well-designed restraint, in concert with the seatback, can reduce the risk of whiplash injury by reducing the differential motion of an occupant's head and torso in a rear-end crash. The necessary first step toward accomplishing this is a head restraint that's positioned high and as close to the back of the head as possible. Head restraints with poor geometry cannot be positioned this way for many occupants, so they cannot begin to prevent whiplash injuries.

Occupants need to adjust head restraints: Even as automakers improve head restraint geometry, many motorists aren't reaping the full benefits. The restraints in about four of every five passenger vehicles have to be manually adjusted upward to protect many occupants. But such restraints often aren't adjusted. They're left in the lowest position, where they cannot provide many occupants with any protection against whiplash in rear-end crashes.

Institute researchers observed the positions of driver head restraints in more than 7,000 passenger vehicles at intersections in the Washington, D.C., and Charlottesville, Virginia, areas. When the restraints were positioned at or above drivers' ears, they were assumed to be high enough to protect the neck from whiplash in rear impacts. Across both locations, 60 percent of the observed head restraints of all types were high enough to provide protection. Among the adjustable designs that had been left in the unadjusted (lowest) position, fewer than half (48 percent) reached drivers' ears.

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Driver and Passenger Airbags

Airbags were introduced in the 1980's for testing purposes. As they proved their effectiveness and passed rigorous testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, vehicle manufacturers and government officials acknowledged their efficiency.

Since their introduction, an estimated 1,800,000 airbags have deployed saving a minimum of 2,620 people from fatal injuries. In 1994, the government declared driver-side airbags mandatory. Passenger-side airbags followed suit in 1998, also becoming mandatory.

Airbags are often referred to as supplemental restraint systems (SRS) because they are supposed to be used in combination with safety belts. They must be rapidly deployed to be effective, so they release with incredible force. Airbags installed by the vehicle manufacturer deploy at speeds as high as 200 mph.

Because airbags must provide a cushion of air immediately before impact, they are often placed in the steering wheel column or the dashboard. It is important to be wearing a seatbelt when an airbag deploys. Seatbelts will not only keep you in your seat and help restrain you, but they also keep you at a safe distance from the airbag's deployment force.

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Driver and Passenger Airbags (Continued)

It is recommended that drivers and front seat passengers be seated at least 10 inches from the airbag. Leaning forward, resting your legs on the dashboard, or using laptop computers are severe safety hazards.

Remember, this type of airbag only deploys during moderate to severe frontal crashes. Side and rear impact crashes and vehicle rollover crashes do not encourage the airbag to release. "Depowered" airbags reduce the risk of injury to passengers out of the proper safety position because they inflate less forcefully.

Reading your vehicle's owner manual will inform you as to which type of airbag your vehicle has. Also, on the window visors you will find warnings about proper airbag use. If a vehicle has no rear seat, as in a pickup, an on/off switch will be provided for the passenger side airbag. With children under twelve and infants, this option should be off.

Some people may be concerned that airbags are more hindering than helpful. Since their development, airbags have killed 87 people, 49 of which were children. Remember, the 49 children killed should not have been placed near the airbag. The number of adults killed by airbags is minimal compared to those saved by them.

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Driver and Passenger Airbags (Continued)

On their website, the National Safety council offers this tool to remember airbag safety.


There are several things you can do to keep your passengers and yourself safe regarding airbags. Following these guidelines will minimize your risk of injury from a deploying airbag.

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Driver and Passenger Airbags (Continued)

Side Airbags

It has been proven that driver and passenger airbags are quite effective. However, technology is constantly being improved to increase our in-vehicle safety. Two types of side airbags (also known as SIPS) have been developed to protect passengers during side collisions. Typical side airbags are most often located in the outboard edge of the seat back or the door.

Some types protect the chest, whereas others focus on the head. Other specialty side airbags include the inflatable tubular structures and inflatable curtains. These side airbags deploy from the edge of the inside roof downward toward the head area.

Curtain and tubular side airbags are extremely effective with reducing the injury to the head and helping to keep passengers in the vehicle during a rollover crash. Several tests have been performed to verify the effectiveness of such airbags. In an experiment involving Ford's Escape, the vehicle received a "poor" on the moderate to severe side impact crashes. When the Escape was tested with a side airbag in place, it received a score of "good".

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Side Airbags (Continued)

The effectiveness of side airbags is already being detected. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that side airbags that have head protection are reducing the amount of fatalities by 45 percent! As of 2003, 40 percent of all passenger vehicles offered head-protecting side airbags, however they were not required or tested by the NHTSA.

Advanced Frontal Airbags

Because airbag technology constantly improves to meet the needs of vehicle passengers, new airbags are currently being developed. Advanced frontal airbags have the technology to determine if the airbags are necessary to deploy and with what force. This determination is based on the occupant's size and weight, seat position, seat belt usage, and the severity of the crash.

These airbags, which are currently available, are more effective than the current airbag system. The NHTSA fully accepts advanced frontal airbags and demands that all vehicles manufactured after September 2006 have the airbags. You can determine if your vehicle has advanced frontal airbags by checking your owner's manual.

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

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Child Safety Restraints

Objective: The student will discuss the use of child safety restraints. The student will explain the advantages offered by the LATCH system.

One cannot stress the importance of child safety restraints. Child safety restraints, or "car seats", save thousand of lives each year. With over 80% of child safety restraints not being installed properly, it is essential to understand how your system works and how to install it properly.

Child safety restraints are required to come with installation directions and use guidelines. When positioning the system into your vehicle, follow the system directions as well as your vehicle owner's manual. Be sure to use proper anchors and tethers that most vehicles have.

The following table will help you determine what kind of child passenger restraint you may need.

Proper Child Safety Seat Use Chart 
Buckle Everyone!





  • Birth to 1 year at least 20-22 lbs.
  • Over 1 year and over 20 lbs.-40 lbs.
  • Over 40 lbs. Ages 4-8, unless 4'9''.


  • Infant only or rear-facing convertible .
  • Convertible / Forward-facing
  • Belt positioning booster seat


  • Rear-facing only
  • Forward-facing
  • Forward-facing


  • Children to one year and at least 20 lbs. in rear-facing seats.
  • Harness straps at or below shoulder level.
  • Harness straps should be at or above shoulders.
  • Most seats require top slot for forward-facing.
  • Belt positioning booster seats must be used with both lap and shoulder belt.
  • Make sure the lap belt fits low and tight across the lap/upper thigh area and the shoulder belt fits snug crossing the chest and shoulder to avoid abdominal injuries.


  • All children age 12 and under should ride in the back seat

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Child Safety Restraints (Continued)

There is a lot you can learn about child safety restraints. Let's go over the basic rules. A child safety seat may not protect your child in a crash if it isn't used correctly and installed properly in your vehicle. Before you drive, take a minute to check the following


Do You Understand the Restraint System Instructions?


Does Your Child Ride in the Correct Safety Seat? 

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Does Your Child Ride in the Correct Safety Seat? 


Latch System

The Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) System is designed to make installation of child safety seats easier by requiring child safety seats to be installed without using the vehicle's seat belt system. All modern forward facing child safety seats built (not including booster seats) have to meet a strict head protection requirement, which calls for a top tether strap.

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Latch System (Continued)

This adjustable strap is attached to the back of a child safety seat. It has a hook for securing the seat to a tether anchor found either on the rear shelf area of the vehicle or, in the case of minivans and station wagons, on the rear floor or the on the back of the rear seat of the vehicle. All new cars, minivans, and light trucks built after 2000 will have this tether anchor.

Cars, minivans and light trucks built after 2002 are equipped with lower child safety seat anchorage points located between a vehicle's seat cushion and seat back for two rear seating positions. All modern child safety seats have two attachments which connect to the vehicle's lower anchorage attachment points.  Together, the lower anchors and upper tethers make up the LATCH system.

All children who have outgrown child safety seats should be properly restrained in booster seats until they are at least 8 years old, unless they are 4'9" tall. 

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Latch System (Continued)

If only a lap belt is available in the rear seating positions, an option may be to contact the vehicle dealer to see if retrofit shoulder belts can be installed. Another option may be to install products which can be used with a lap belt only such as a specially-made harness or vest. Contact the Auto Safety Hotline at (888) 327-4236 for additional information.

Researching Child Safety Restraints

You may obtain the most current information by logging onto the website: to read about child safety restraints. Note how to install seats properly, what systems are appropriate for what ages, and additional relevant information in the space below. You may also find additional information on: 1) Rear facing infant seats, 2) Convertible seats, 3) Forward facing only seats, 4) High back booster with 5-point harness, and 5) Belt positioning booster seats.

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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 - Preventing Road Rage. The student will understand the dangers of aggressive driving, avoiding aggressive driving, and will utilize strategies to respond appropriately to aggressive drivers.

Aggressive Driving

There are a number of safe driving techniques motorists can use to avoid confrontations with aggressive drivers and to reduce the likelihood of provoking road rage in others. These techniques include:

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Aggresive Driving (Continued)

These simple acts of courtesy can help prevent road rage in other drivers, but you must be conscious of your own emotions to prevent yourself from engaging in acts of road rage. When you are feeling strong emotions, even positive ones, do not drive until you can get them under control.

The most obvious link between emotions and aggressive driving or road rage is anger. Don't "miss the mark" because you are angry; you alone are responsible for managing and controlling your anger.

Part of anger management is a rational process. Think about the fact that everybody makes mistakes. In most cases, a driving error was not made intentionally to harm you or throw you off schedule. Forgive the other driver and put some distance between your vehicles.

Be thankful that no real harm was done. Do not try to harm the other driver. You may find it helpful to imagine that the other driver, in such a hurry, is rushing a pregnant woman to the hospital to give birth. It is hard to be mad at a driver in that situation.

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Aggressive Driving (Continued)

Part of anger management is an emotional process. Emotions come and go quickly and, like toddlers, they are easily distracted. In one second a very good day can become a very bad day or vice versa. You can diffuse your anger by turning on soothing, positive music.

You can also direct your thoughts to more joyful circumstances or think about something you are hoping for. Some people memorize a favorite verse, poem, or quote and mentally chew on it until the anger has subsided. Others think about a respected friend and what that person would do.

There are many simple relaxation techniques you can learn to diffuse anger. One such technique can be done anywhere and only takes 5 minutes. Close your eyes and take deep slow breaths. Imagine you are at a beach where tide is coming in. Every time the water comes up a little farther; covering your feet, then calves, knees, etc. Every time the water goes out, it takes some of your stress with it. By the time the waves make it over your head, you should be pretty relaxed. A note of caution, this technique is inappropriate while actually driving.

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Aggressive Driving (Continued)

The last component of anger management is a perspective on justice. It is important to remember that it is not your job to enforce the law or execute judgment on an offensive driver. Leave vengeance to a higher authority.

Common Courtesy is a Key to Safety. The following are a few things to remember when it comes to proper roadway etiquette.

1.) The Roadway is shared by all drivers. Everyone needs to go somewhere. It is important to remember that all drivers on the road share the same road. Safely sharing the roadway with other drivers and pedestrians is essential for avoiding accidents.

2.) Courtesy makes order out of chaos. If you make a conscious effort to be courteous, you can help avoid serious accidents and help keep traffic moving in a smooth fashion.

3.) Treat other drivers the way you want to be treated. You should drive responsibly, obey traffic laws, and never, under any circumstances, take unnecessary risks.

Road Rage

The level of Road Rage continues to grow each year in every state. The following are a few statistics regarding road rage and its effect on all of us.

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Road Rage (Continued)


Aggressive Driver Self-Test - Here are 20 items listed in escalating degrees of driver hostility, beginning with milder forms of aggression (step 1) and going all the way to ultimate violence (step 20). How far down the uncivilized road will you allow yourself to go when you are behind the wheel? Take this test and determine if you fit into a zone of aggressiveness.

  1. Mentally condemning other drivers.

  2. Verbally denigrating other drivers to a passenger in your vehicle.

  3. Closing ranks to deny someone entering your lane because you're frustrated or upset.

  4. Giving another driver the "stink eye" to show your disapproval.

  5. Speeding past another car or revving up the engine as a sign of protest.

  6. Preventing another driver from passing because you're mad.

  7. Tailgating to pressure a driver to go faster or get out of the way.

  8. Fantasizing physical violence against another driver.

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Aggressive Driver Self-Test (Continued)

9. Honking or yelling at someone through the window to indicate displeasure.

10. Making a visible obscene gesture at another driver.

11. Using your car to retaliate by making sudden, threatening maneuvers.

12. Pursuing another car in chase because of a provocation or insult.

13. Getting out of the car and engaging in a verbal dispute, on a street or parking lot.

14. Carrying a weapon in the car in case you decide to use it in a driving incident.

15. Deliberately bumping or ramming another car in anger.

16. Trying to run another car off the road to punish the driver.

17. Getting out of the car and beating or battering someone as a result of a road exchange.

18. Trying to run someone down whose actions angered you.

19. Shooting at another car.

20. Killing someone.


Which zone are you in?


If you need help getting out of your zone, visit these websites: Network of Employers for Traffic Safety at National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at

This test is provided by Dr. Leon James, Professor of Psychology at the University of Hawaii.

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

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Special Maneuvers

Texas Topic - Turnabouts. The student will synthesize information and apply critical thinking, decision-making, and problem-solving skills to select and safely execute a turnabout.


In most states, U-turns are legal unless a sign prohibits it. In many urban areas, U-turns are only allowed at intersections. U-turns should never be made on expressways. To make a U-turn, give a left turn signal, stop, check for approaching traffic, then proceed into the outside (right most) lane in the opposite direction. When making a U-turn, many new drivers fail to realize that they have to turn the steering wheel back more quickly than normal to come out of the U-turn. It may also be difficult to gauge how much acceleration is needed to make the turn smoothly.

U-turns should be practiced repeatedly by permitted drivers in a "safe zone" such as a parking lot or private property. Additionally, when a car to the driver's left is making a right turn on a red, they are normally not expecting a car to be making a U-turn. The student must be aware of potential hazards when making U-turns.

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Special Maneuvers (Continued)

Other Turn Abouts

The Three Point U-turn (also called a "Y" turn) is a useful maneuver when you need to turn around on a two lane rural road and there are no outlets available. This maneuver is dangerous and should only be used in roadways with an open field of vision (not on hills or curves). When executing a 3-point U-turn, begin by slowing down and searching for oncoming traffic in-front of and behind you.

It may be helpful to turn on your hazard lights. Turn your wheels hard to the left and drive to the edge of the road way. Next, turn your wheels hard to the right and back to the other edge of the road. Finally, turn your wheels hard to the left and drive forward along the road in the appropriate lane for your direction of travel.

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When you get behind the wheel after Section 5, you should focus on each point below and master them before proceeding to the next section:

The Student Driver:

  • Repeats, in moderate risk environments, the elements of behind-the-wheel and in-car observation covered in Sections 3 and 4.

  • Utilizes space management techniques to synthesize information; establish position and following distances; set speed; communicate; identify conflicts; manage open, closed or changing sightline, path or travel; and target line references in low to moderate risk environments.

  • Applies risk reduction principles.

  • Accomplishes speed adjustment maneuvers and land changes to the left and right based on legal postings and limitations of the driver, vehicle, roadway, other roadway users including tailgaters or aggressive drivers, and environmental factors.

  • Establishes arrival to a specific position in seconds and determines path of travel for self and other vehicles.

  • Visualizes and evaluates immediate and further target zone, 0-20 seconds surrounding current position to select intended path of travel and analyze or resolve traffic conflicts.

  • Identifies when the travel path is open, closed, or changing and makes appropriate speed or lane position adjustments.

  • Utilizes proper procedures within legal boundaries to complete gradual and sharp turn parking maneuvers including angle and perpendicular parking, left, right and U-turns at major intersections and mid-block and turnabouts including 2-point and 3-point or Y-turnabouts.

  • Participates in commentary driving while being evaluated and is provided a verbal and written evaluation on behind the wheel and observation elements of Sections 3-5.

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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 5 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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