Section 6 Review

Section 6 - Choosing the Right Speed for the Conditions

Texas Topic - Controlling Traffic Flow. The student will know laws and procedures required to control traffic flow and establish appropriate car positions in the driving environment.

Objective: The student will identify environmental conditions which require lower speeds and extra caution. The student will be able to explain how to prepare a winter emergency kit. The student will explain how to enter, travel on, and exit an expressway.

In this section, we will focus on the important aspects of safe speed and introduce driving on high speed roadways such as highways and interstates. We will also focus on speed zones and adjusting speed for conditions.

Determining Appropriate Speed

Objective: The student will explain why people speed and the leading causes of collisions. The student will identify three types of traction. The student will identify conditions under which a driver should travel below the speed limit.

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Why People Speed

Police officers throughout the nation attest that the number one excuse for speeding is, "I am late." When people are late for work or an appointment, they often take many more chances with their driving than they otherwise would. Strong emotional upset is another significant factor in explaining why a lot of experienced motorists drive excessively fast.

When you think about it, these two factors are closely linked. Relax and leave early. " Never get in a hurry behind the wheel " is the best advice for reducing the potential for a speeding citation.

Why Collisions Happen

Many drivers do not realize driving risk may be reduced by traveling at the prevailing speed of traffic. Collisions happen when there are interruptions in traffic flow. When vehicles travel in the same direction at the same speed, they do not normally run into each other. The problem is that all traffic does not travel at the same speed.

Some cars are slowing, others are accelerating and still others are changing lanes. With all this taking place, it becomes clear that there are several factors which influence how fast we can safely travel. Driving excessively fast or slow in comparison to traffic puts oneself, ones passengers, and other travelers at undue risk.

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Why Collisions Happen (Continued)

Some cars are slowing, others are accelerating and still others are changing lanes. With all this taking place, it becomes clear that there are several factors which influence how fast we can safely travel. Driving excessively fast or slow in comparison to traffic puts oneself, ones passengers, and other travelers at undue risk.

Teenagers and Speeding 

There has been an avalanche of new sport coupes and sport sedans introduced onto our highways in recent years. In fact, studies show that there are more sport-type (versus standard family-type) cars on our roads today than in any time in our driving history. What do sport car advertisements encourage drivers to do? The answer is obvious: they encourage drivers to speed.

Let's face it; speeding is fun. In fact, for a lot of teenagers, anything that borders on danger is fun. While driving, have your teen consider what could happen if a curb were taken too fast, or if a car pulled out at an intersection while you were racing down the road. It is critical that all drivers understand that SPEEDING REDUCES OPTIONS.

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Changing Traction Conditions

Traction refers to the grip between the tires and the road surface. It is also called adhesion. There are three types of traction: static, rolling (dynamic), and sliding.

Static traction has the greatest grip but least efficiency of motion. An example of a vehicle in static traction is a parked car on a flat surface.

Rolling traction has less grip than static traction but it allows you to accelerate, brake, and steer the vehicle. This is the physical state you want your car in while in motion.

Sliding traction affords you the least control in a car but the greatest efficiency of motion. Sliding traction is desirable if you are skiing but it must be avoided in a car.

Traction is governed by two main factors: road conditions and tire conditions.

Road Surface Conditions

Most discussions of traction, friction, and the physics of driving assume a clean, dry road surface. Most wet conditions will reduce your traction. In some cases, such as deep mud or snow, the road conditions will increase your traction to the point that you can not drive.

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Road Surface Conditions (Continued)

You should always show extra caution when driving in ice, snow, frost, wet surfaces (especially in the first few minutes of a rain storm when the water mixes with oil from the road surface), standing water, mud, wet leaves, sand, gravel, uneven surfaces, and curves.

Tire Conditions 

The tread wear on a tire is the main factor to consider regarding traction. A tire with worn or bald tread has very little adhesion to the road surface. Good adhesion for slippery conditions is typically lost after the first 20,000 miles even on high grade tires. When you shop for tires it is important to ask about the treadwear rating. Tires can be rated 20,000 miles, 30,000 miles, 50,000 miles or higher.

Every tire has raised ridges periodically spaced between the treads. When your tread wears down to these ridges, it is time to replace your tires. Another way to gauge your tires wear is to use the penny test. Just place a Lincoln penny headfirst into a tread groove. If part of Abe's head is covered by tread, your tire has tread life. If you can see all of Lincoln's head, replace those tires. Having worn or smooth tires more than doubles the risk of skidding on wet surfaces.

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Road Construction

Orange signs, barrels, flags, and vehicle markings all alert us to construction conditions on the road ahead. It is crucial to take extra care in construction zones and work zones for two reasons:

Traction -As stated above, sand or gravel on the road as well as uneven surfaces and the type of material use in the make of the road surface can all reduce your control of the automobile by affecting traction.

Traffic -Both vehicular and pedestrian traffic may be increased in construction zones. Your first concern is proper care and attention to the highway workers. Your second consideration is the compressed margins around your car.

Strategies for driving through construction: The most important action you can take is to slow down. A recommended speed limit will be posted in construction zones and you must not exceed it; even if you do not see any workers.

Most states have enacted laws to double fines for speeding in work zones. The second most important action you can take is to increase the frequency of your search pattern. Be on the lookout for vehicles and pedestrians well ahead in your intended path of travel. Your lower speed and increased awareness will enable you to take appropriate action to avoid collisions.

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Choosing The Right Speed for the Conditions

How fast is too fast? It depends on the conditions. Most would say that it depends on how many miles per hour over the speed limit a person is traveling. Speed limits are established on the basis of ideal road conditions. Inclement weather alters the road conditions, making it necessary to alter your driving pattern. Therefore, it is indeed possible to drive under the speed limit and still be driving too fast. 

The number one thing to remember about driving during inclement weather (rain, fog , snow, etc.) is to SLOW DOWNMany people cruise along at their normal speed, not realizing that rain or snow has doubled or tripled their stopping distance. During these conditions, more than a Three-Second following distance is needed. Unfortunately, this is often not recognized until it is too late.

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Choosing The Right Speed for the Conditions (Continued)

Do not be in a hurry. Slowing down reduces the chance of having to make sudden turns or stops. When driving on snow or ice, everything must be done gradually. Slow down, look well ahead (this will help avoid making last-minute adjustments) and maintain a good following distance.  

In cities where snow is uncommon, new fallen snow "causes" accidents. Several cars rear-end each other. Many cars end up in ditches; others plow into each other at intersections. Most of these drivers blame the road conditions when, in reality, the root problem is simple driver error. 

Almost all drivers see themselves as good drivers; therefore, many of them are not aware of their mistakes, the same mistakes they make every time they drive. When a collision occurs, the driver assumes it was due to the road conditions. The road conditions are certainly a factor, but the primary factor is years of ingrained errors that manifest themselves when road conditions are unfavorable.

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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 Topics

Winter Driving

Objective: The student will identify winter driving conditions and other environmental conditions that require extra caution while driving. The student will describe strategies for reducing risk while driving in these conditions. The student will identify components of a good winter emergency kit.

We cannot overemphasize; it is best to not put yourself in a situation where you have to make sudden stops. However, there are times when you might need to stop in a hurry. On snow or ice, this is not simple. Let's talk about how to safely perform this task.

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Winter Driving (Continued)

First of all, take note of when and where it is likely to be most slippery. Moisture will freeze sooner on a bridge or overpass than on other areas.

Shaded areas are places where the ice and snow do not have an opportunity to melt as quickly as in sunny areas. Always expect slippery conditions in shaded areas whenever driving in the winter.

Intersections with stop signs and traffic lights will also be more slippery during snowy and icy conditions. This is due to exhaust from tailpipes melting the top layer of snow. When cars drive away, the water freezes again, creating a layer of ice on top of the snow. Car tires will often spin on the ice and heat up, resulting in more glazed ice.

The first thing to understand about stopping on snow or ice is, "The brakes stop the wheel and the tires stop the vehicle." DO NOT JAM ON THE BRAKE AND THROW YOUR VEHICLE INTO A SKID. Use low gears to bring the vehicle to a safe speed before applying the brake.

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Winter Driving (Continued)

Most vehicles are equipped with an Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS). If you do not have ABS then press the brake gradually until the vehicle comes to a stop. If the tires begin to skid, let off the brake until traction and control are regained.

Press the brake again until it begins to lose traction again and then let up. This should be done in a pumping motion. However, if your vehicle has an Anti-Lock Braking System, apply firm pressure to the brake and the pumping occurs automatically.

Manual pumping motion is not recommended by the manufacturer. Stopping on patchy snow involves a little different process. Hard braking should only be accomplished on dry portions of the road. Let off the brake when driving over the ice or snow, and then press the brake again when over dry groundRemember, DO NOT PUMP ABS BRAKES. The ABS system will do this for you.

Always keep good tires on your vehicle. Again, the brakes stop the wheel and the tires stop the vehicle. Tires with new or like-new tread are much more effective when driving in inclement weather than tires that have been driven 30,000 miles or more.

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Winter Driving (Continued)

Remember that skids occur when your vehicle loses traction. Loss of traction is a result of too much input on one of your controls: steering, braking, or acceleration. Low speeds and measured application of these inputs is key to avoiding skids. Whenever traveling downhill on snow or ice, each time the brake pedal is pressed the chance exists for loss of car control due to skidding. The hazard is especially great if there is an intersection with a traffic light or stop sign at the bottom of the hill. 

SLOW DOWN AT THE TOP OF THE HILL AND SHIFT TO A LOWER GEAR. Slowing before the intersection is reached allows the car to stop in time to avoid skidding. Each time the brakes are applied to the point of skidding, steering control is lost. Each time the brakes are released, steering control is regained.

Many people believe that it is more slippery when the temperature is well below freezing. This is not true. Snow and ice are most slippery when they begin to melt.

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Winter Driving (Continued)

When extra caution is exercised on snow or ice, impatient drivers will sometimes either tail-gate or pass. Again, that is their problem. Other drivers will see your caution and mimic it.

The goal is to stay out of trouble and avoid accidents. Train your teen to drive independently and not yield to pressure from others. We will discuss more about skidding and how to control it in Section 7.

Winter Driving Equipment Checklist


  • Wool blankets
  • Candle
  • Waterproof matches or lighter
  • Map
  • Jumper cables
  • Roll of quarters
  • Snow boots
  • Flashlight w/extra batteries
  • Flares or bright red or orange cloth for signaling
  • Duct tape
  • Compass Bag of sand or rock salt
  • Tire chains
  • Whistle (3-inch diameter)
  • Metal mirror or reflective device
  • Swiss army knife
  • First aid kit
  • Ice scraper
  • Warm socks
  • Water resistant gloves
  • Small shovel
  • Cell phone
  • Gallon of water
  • Granola or trail mix
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Hat
  • Basic Tools
  • Large trash bag
  • Food
  • Window washer fluid
  • Warm Clothing

Analyze your winter trip and include these materials as needed. Check out the Winter Driving Worksheet


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Water (or Rain) Hazards

Water on the road can also create problems. Tires can actually lose contact with the road surface, causing the driver to lose control. This condition is called hydroplaning. When the car is hydroplaning, steering control is almost non-existent. The key, once again, is to SLOW DOWN. Always stay below dry road speed at a minimum, and decrease speed when entering a curve.

When rain first falls, the water mixes with oil on the road, making it very slippery. Continued rain washes most of the oil away. Remember: it is most slippery during the first few minutes of rain.

When approaching water, avoid splashing water into the engine compartment by proceeding slowly. Do not proceed if the water level reaches your vehicle or you are unsure how deep the water is. Most vehicles, including trucks and SUVs can be swept away in as little as two feet of water. The best thing to do is to simply not drive through any standing or moving water is to, as the National Weather Service Puts it, "Turn Around Don't Drown." 

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Water (or Rain) Hazards (Continued)

Here is a list of safety rules from the National Weather Service's Turn Around Don't Drown website:



Another condition where lower speeds are prudent, is fog. The number of vehicles passing at high rates of speed during foggy conditions is amazing. This is one reason forty or fifty cars end up in a pileup on the freeway. Drivers cruise along until they run into something they did not see in time to stop.

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Fog (Continued)

Though they may blame it on the fog, in reality, a citation for driving too fast for foggy conditions is probably in order.

To reduce the risks associated with driving in fog, reduce speed, increase following distance, listen for traffic you cannot see and drive with headlights or fog lights on. Do NOT use "Hi beam headlights" because they will produce glare on the fog and obstruct your vision. When fog is present, avoid (at all costs) crossing roadways or passing long lines of cars.

When your vehicle stalls in the fog, move off the roadway as quickly as possible, and move away from the vehicle. Restricted use of flashers or flares can be used.

Getting Unstuck (How to Rock Out) - Being stuck in the mud or snow is no fun. The following are just a few ways to free your vehicle from a 'sticky' situation.

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Hills and Curves

Accidents always happen when you least expect them. Parents, remind your teen of this rule whenever driving on a hill or curve. Blind hills and curves can hide something that could mean the difference between life and death.

As a minimum, they could hide something that can cost time and money. The best way to mentally prepare for what may be over the hill or around the curve is to anticipate potential problems and slow down.


Negotiating a curve smoothly requires deceleration at the entrance of the curve and acceleration while exiting the curve. Entering a curve too quickly limits the driver's control of the vehicle and causes a condition called "understeer" where the vehicle maintains a straight path instead of following the curve. If the driver tries to compensate with more steering, the result will likely be "oversteering" where the vehicle turns more than your path of travel. Either condition, understeer or oversteer, indicates the driver's loss of control over the vehicle and presents increased risk for collisions.

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Hills and Curves (Continued)


You may hear of a notable exception to the standard braking and cornering technique called Trail Braking . Trail braking is a difficult and subtle technique more often used on race tracks than public streets. The technique works like this: When approaching a bend, brake in the normal way. Instead of releasing the brake before steering, continue to brake during the turn in phase, and perhaps all the way to the apex of the curve.

While traveling through the bend, gradually blend out the braking and smoothly transition to the throttle. This will allow the driver to begin accelerating earlier which is more useful in a race than a daily commute.

This technique is not for beginning drivers . Trail braking is best taught by a qualified instructor on a track or proving ground. It should not be taught on public streets because a mistake in timing or brake pressure could result in a loss of vehicle control.

Now let's examine some specific strategies for driving on hills:


When traveling uphill, a prudent driver will position his or her vehicle to the right of the lane to compensate for limited visibility. 

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Hills and Curves (Continued)


If both directions of traffic position to the right of their lanes, chances of a collision in the middle of the road are eliminated. More importantly, if a "wide-load" vehicle is traveling up one lane, the opposing lane will have already compensated by giving extra space to the vehicle with the wide load.

On the incline, the vehicle will need more power to maintain the same speed. How the driver adjusts speed will depend on the kind of transmission the vehicle has.

Automatic -Automatic transmission vehicles have three vehicle control inputs: steering, braking, and acceleration. To increase your speed, increase your acceleration. Before your vehicle begins to lose speed by moving uphill, slowly apply pressure to the accelerator until you reach the desired speed and maintain that pressure until you reach the crest of the hill or if you need to slow down for any reason.

Manual -Manual transmissions offer you a fourth control, the gear shift. Many drivers prefer the manual transmission because of this extra control. When driving uphill, before your vehicle begins to lose power and speed, downshift to a lower gear to increase the engine's pulling power.

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Hills and Curves (Continued)


Driving downhill will facilitate gains in speed. To control your speed, you will want to decrease the engine power.

Automatic - In most situations you should be able to simply ease your foot from the accelerator and allow your vehicle to coast. If your speed increases too much, lightly press the brake pedal to slow down. Long steep stretches of road are easier to handle by moving your selector lever to a lower gear before starting down hill; doing so will provide better control of speed and steering, not to mention saving your brakes from harsh wear. If you must brake, brake lightly. Never "ride" your brakes or you could cause them to overheat and fail.

Manual - When traveling down a long steep hill, it is best to downshift before you start down the hill. Again, you have more control over your speed because the engine is helping you maintain your rate of travel. If you wait until you are picking up speed before you downshift, you will want to press the brakes lightly while shifting to the lower gear. If you find that your engines braking power is not enough to slow you down without applying the brakes, try shifting to a lower gear.

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Hills and Curves (Continued)


Never pass on a hill or curve. One never knows what may be on the other side. Additionally, this is another place where speed reduces avoidance options. When a vehicle is stopped in the road just over the hill, or if a pedestrian just out of sight is walking across the street , the greatest factor in collision avoidance will be the speed of the vehicle. Remember: SPEEDING LIMITS OPTIONS.

Speed Zones

Safety is the primary reason for speed zones in certain areas. Drivers often think that speeds are set too low. In reality, many fail to realize the myriad factors that go into setting speed limits in a town or city. Some factors are: how well intersecting traffic can see cross traffic, whether there are hills and curves, or the number of cars that interact at a given intersection.

Other considerations include the number of accidents that have happened on the road, the likelihood of pedestrians crossing, even the likelihood of wild animals crossing the road. Drivers who think speed limits are too low are generally the same drivers who are more interested in going as fast as they can with little regard for the hazards they present to other motorists.

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Speed Zones (Continued)

Aggressive drivers rarely gain anything in the way of time and distance that makes it worth the wear and tear on their cars, or the risks they create for others.

Looking Well Ahead

Remember SEE-IT? When traveling in excess of the speed limit, the SEE-IT process becomes more difficult to implement. Speeding limits the number of things a driver can concentrate on at one time. Drivers who get in the habit of looking well ahead are more likely to drive at a speed that fits the conditions. Good drivers do not wait until the car in front of them slams on brakes before they adjust their distance and speed.

Looking well down the road, one can usually notice conditions that will require traffic to slow or stop. For example, road construction, stopped vehicles, unloading trucks, etc., are all things that will slow or stop heavy traffic in a hurry. Train to concentrate not only on the car directly in front, but two or three cars ahead. If you see brake lights two or three cars ahead, immediately start slowing down. Be mindful, if traffic is stopping a few cars ahead, the car directly in front must eventually stop. Drivers must always be ready; looking well ahead helps to do that.

Fuel Efficiency

Speeding not only kills people, it kills gas mileage. Fast starts and stops reduce fuel efficiency. The best way to gain maximum gas mileage is to free your driving of abrupt starts and stops. Also, do not dart in and out of traffic. In short, doing the things we discussed in this chapter will result in better gas mileage.

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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 Topics -

The student will collect information, apply critical thinking, and utilize decision-making/problem-solving skills and risk reducing strategies to enter and exit traffic, steer, and establish speed and lane position, pass other vehicles, and travel on multiple lane roadways at speeds up to 70 miles per hour in complex risk environments including expressways.


Objective: The student will identify the characteristics of an expressway and discuss strategies for driving safely on high speed roadways. The student will explain how to enter, drive on, and exit expressways. The student will identify two kinds of access roads.

The expressway is a high speed roadway without intersections. An expressway may also be called a "freeway" or "interstate" highway. The expressway is a place where speed adjustment is crucial. Let's start by discussing proper techniques for getting onto the freeway. Acceleration lanes are designed to allow cars to smoothly enter the freeway.

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Expressways (Continued)

As motorists drive onto the acceleration lane, they must get up to the speed of traffic, signal, find an opening and then merge. Other cars will normally move over or adjust their speed to allow entrance. In fact, in many states, drivers are required to move over and allow vehicles to enter the freeway.

Never try to force your way into traffic. Some states have stop signs or signal lights near the end of the acceleration lane. These must always be obeyed. In the absence of such signs, never stop in the acceleration lane. Common mistakes made when using acceleration lane are sudden slowing or stopping, and merging at too slow a speed.

Many freeways now have timed entrance lights that monitor and control the entrance. These are used for an attempt to alleviate 'bottlenecking" and control the flow of traffic. Entrance light meters make drivers stop and wait for a set period of time before allowing them to enter the flow of traffic.

If you are already driving on the freeway, be courteous and move over when you see another car attempting to enter.

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Expressways (Continued)

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" is the golden rule for freeway driving too. Courtesy is contagious!

If you are re-entering the freeway from the side of the road, you must signal, accelerate on the shoulder, and enter into an adequate gap when available.

Interstates are constructed with at least two lanes traveling in each direction, normally with a barrier of some sort (wall, grassy median, etc) separating lanes in opposite directions. The rightmost lane is intended for use by vehicles entering and exiting the freeway system as well as heavy or slow moving vehicles. Under normal circumstances, the left lane should be used for passing. If one or more center lanes exist, these lanes should be used for traveling long distances and for passing slower moving vehicles in the right lane.

When passing other drivers on an expressway, you have to be aware of your path of travel and any obstructions in the passing lane. You also have to be aware of drivers merging into the passing lane from other lanes. Driving at greater speeds requires even more diligence as you search. Other drivers can move into your intended path in much less time. You will find that things happen very fast on the interstate.

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Expressways (Continued)

Your procedure for passing is the same:

  • Determine if the pass is necessary.

  • Check for an opening to the left.

  • Change one lane to the left.

  • Pass the slower vehicle.

  • Look for the vehicle's headlights in your rearview mirror.

  • Check your blind spot.

  • Return to your lane.

When changing lanes, always change one lane at a time. Never change over two or more lanes in a single maneuver. The procedure is the same as before, just search more extensively (for instance, look for vehicles further back and determine if your lane change is unsafe due to their greater speed). Signal for three to five seconds. Search ahead, behind, and to the side that you are changing to. Look for other vehicles trying to enter your intended lane at the same time as you. Smoothly steer into the new lane. Turn off your turn signal.

On expressways with three or more lanes, if another vehicle is trying to move into the same lane you are trying to change to, the driver of the vehicle to the right must yield right of way. This may not seem fair, but vehicles in lanes to the left are generally driving faster and have less time to react to unexpected threats. Similarly, if one of the vehicles is ahead of the other, the vehicle further back should yield to the vehicle ahead.

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Expressways (Continued)

Exiting the Freeway

When exiting the freeway, pay attention to the informational signs that tell you when your exit is approaching and what lane you must exit from. Most exit ramps are on the right side of the road. Occasionally, you will find an exit on the left side.

Enter the deceleration lane and slow to the posted speed limit on the exit ramp. You may have to come to a stop before entering a cross street or access road. Stay alert for troublesome interchanges such as "weave lanes," sharply curving exit ramps with short deceleration lanes, and exit ramps with very slow speeds.

A weave lane is a single lane that acts as both an entrance and an exit to the expressway. Traffic enters and exits the expressway at the same location. Exiting drivers are trying to maintain expressway speeds until they reach the deceleration lane and exit ramp; entering drivers are trying to match expressway speeds before they enter. If you are not exiting at the weave lane, try to move over one lane to the left to eliminate a potential traffic conflict.

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Expressways (Continued)

Exiting the Freeway

If you are exiting at a weave lane and perceive a possible conflict, be sure your signal is on and slow down slightly. This will give you a few extra seconds to react. Most drivers have been taught not to slow down when entering an interstate roadway so do not assume that the vehicle on the entrance ramp will yield to you.

Whether you are entering or exiting, you should be able to see if the other driver is speeding up or slowing down and if the driver acknowledges your intent. If both drivers see each other, communicate with the other driver through your lights, speed, and lane position to ensure that you both know who is yielding.

Access Roads

We learned in Section 4 that freeways are controlled access highways. Some of the entry and exit ramp styles were also illustrated in that section. Another way of gaining access is by access roads. These roads may be called service roads or frontage roads. The American Heritage Dictionary defines them as, "a local road that runs parallel to an expressway or interstate highway and that provides access to the property bordering it."

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Expressways (Continued)

Access Roads

Similar to frontage roads, the current trend is to construct backage roads. A backage road is a local street or road that generally runs parallel to an arterial or highway but is not adjacent to the highway right of way. Direct access for businesses or properties located between the highway and the backage road is provided by the backage road rather than the highway.

Research indicates backage roads provide more access to a greater number of businesses and can increase the value of adjacent land while reducing road construction costs for individual properties.

The difference between frontage and backage roads is that backage road run along the rear side of commercial properties, which are located between the backage road and the highway. It also provides access to any property, commercial or residential, on the far side of the backage road.

Depending on how they are constructed, driving on access roads may expose you to additional hazards that commercial or residential streets do not have. If the access road connects directly to the highway, traffic flowing into the access road is traveling at a higher rate of speed and generally has a high density.

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Expressways (Continued)

Access Roads

Driver's on the access road need to be mindful of traffic exiting the highway and entering the driver's lane. Intersections can be troublesome as well. Because of the greater traffic density on highways, the intersections controlling exit ramps will generally have a high flow of traffic and often, those exiting the highway will run stop signs and yellow lights.

Texas Topic - Basic Maneuvering. The student will utilize critical thinking skills to enter roadways, and perform maneuvers in reverse with competency.

Driving on Open Highways

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Expressways (Continued)

Driving on Open Highways

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Expressways (Continued)

Driving on Open Highways

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How Slow is Too Slow?

Driving under the speed limit (during optimum conditions) can also be hazardous to other motorists. When vehicles travel under the speed limit, other cars will usually pile up behind them and begin tailgating. Typically, they will then begin to pass.

Passing drivers have to divide their attention between the slow vehicle, oncoming traffic and vehicles behind them. The increase in accident potential is obvious. Many collisions happen because of interruptions in traffic flow. It is easy to understand why a slow moving vehicle can be a potential hazard.

Those who drive under the speed limit should never drive in the left lane on high-speed roads. The left lane should be viewed as an area reserved for passing vehicles and faster traffic. Watch for road signs that set minimum speed limits.


A tollway, also known as a toll road or turnpike, is a roadway that requires drivers to pay a fee. The fee normally pays for the maintenance of the roadway. The toll may be collected intermittently along the road at toll plazas or it may be collected at entry and exit points on the road at toll booths. Fees are most commonly paid in change.

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Tollways (Continued)

The driver will stop at the toll plaza or toll booth and submit the fee to an attendant or toss the appropriate change in an automated receptacle that counts the change and opens a toll gate.

Drivers must show caution at toll plazas because of the decrease in speed and the resulting increase in traffic density. Signs along the toll road will inform the driver of the required fee. If possible, this fee should be counted and prepared by a passenger before reaching the toll plaza. If the driver is alone in the vehicle, the fee should be counted out at the toll booth. The driver should not take his or her attention away from the road to count change while the vehicle is moving.

Normally, drivers are given plenty of notice ahead before approaching a tollway. Tollways will usually reserve a designated lane for special vehicles.

Special Freeway Problems

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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 - Parking. The student will utilize decision-making and problem-solving skills to safely execute parking procedures.


Objective: The student will list 7 steps to parallel park. The student will explain the difference between parking uphill and parking downhill, with and without a curb.

Parallel Parking

Drivers have more anxiety over parallel parking than any other single maneuver; one cannot simply pull forward and steer into the parallel parking space. Although this is a very valuable skill, it is not one that the teen driver may need to use very often. More and more metropolitan areas are arranging parking lots and parking garages. The steps to parallel parking are as follows:

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Parallel Parking (Continued)

Parking On A Hill

Parents, talk to your teen about safety considerations when parking on a hill. The guiding principle to parking on a hill is, "prevent your vehicle from rolling into traffic." Let's look at the figure below. When there is a curb present, notice that the wheels of a parked vehicle are turned in the direction that will cause the car to roll into the curb and stop.

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Parking On A Hill (Continued)

For vehicles parked in the downhill direction, notice that in both cases (with or without a curb) the front wheels are turned to the driver's right. If the vehicle were to roll on its own, it would roll off the road.

For vehicles parked in the uphill direction, the direction of the wheels depends on whether or not you have a curb. If there is a curb, the front wheels are turned to the drivers left. If the vehicle were to roll downhill, the front tires will roll into the curb and stop the car. If there is no curb, the wheels should be turned to the driver's right. If the vehicle were to roll downhill, the back end would roll off the road keeping the vehicle out of traffic.

Backing up Safely - Before attempting to back up, proper measures should be in place. The driver should...

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

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Objective: The student will explain how adding a trailer affects the driving task. The student will explain how to turn, stop, and reverse when towing a trailer.

Where driving is risky, towing is twice as risky. Adding a trailer to your vehicle will affect your driving in many ways. Considerations include:


What kind of trailer are you towing? What kind of load are you carrying? It is important to arrange your cargo safely and load it securely in your trailer. Generally speaking, when hauling cargo, arrange the largest and heaviest items on the bottom. If the trailer is open, you may want to cover your cargo with a waterproof tarp. When towing a camper, have all passengers ride in the car with you, not in the camper, especially if it is a collapsible camper.

Not just any car can tow. Is your back bumper mounted for towing? Do you have a tow bar or tow chains? Does your trailer have the necessary lights? What about the cables to connect the trailer lights to your vehicle lights?

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Due to a decrease in acceleration and an increase in maneuvering distance, start slowly and check your mirrors frequently. When driving on steep hills, be sure to use low gear.

Turning Left

Turning Right


If possible, use a trailer with brakes that connect to your vehicles brakes. Regardless of the trailers braking capability, you will need more time and space to stop. Give yourself a greater margin to the front to prevent a collision.


This maneuver requires practice. To prevent yourself from jackknifing the trailer, make sure you back slowly, do not turn the wheel too hard, and apply the following guidelines:

In Traffic

Remember that extra time and extra space are the keys to safe driving while towing. If you plan to pass a vehicle, you will need much more time and space to clear the vehicle and safely return to your lane.

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When you get behind the wheel after Section 6, you should focus on each point below and master them before proceeding to the next section:

The Student Driver:

  • Repeats, in complex risk environments, the elements of behind-the-wheel and in-car observation covered in Sections 4 and 5.

  • Applies information processing principles and space management techniques to enter and exit curves, hills and merge areas, to perform passing maneuvers and advanced intersections entry and exit at controlled and uncontrolled intersections including railroad grade crossing and negotiate multiple lane roadways and heavy traffic.

  • Utilizes space management techniques to synthesize information, establish position and following distances, set speed, communicate, identify conflicts and manage open, closed or changing sightline, path of travel and target line references in complex risk environments including freeways and multiple lane roadway.

  • Demonstrates proper procedures and space management techniques for entering, exiting and traveling on rural highways, multiple lane roadways both city and rural, freeways.

  • Performs no-risk, simulated or real passing maneuvers using proper procedures.

  • Traverses frontage roads, weave lanes, metered ramps, and freeway interchanges such as cloverleaves, diamonds or trumpets.

  • Demonstrates vehicle and speed control and maintains lane positioning while perform multiple tasks in the vehicle at speeds exceeding 40 mph and up to 70 mpg.

  • Participates in commentary driving while being evaluated and is provided a verbal and written evaluation on behind the wheel and observation elements of Section 6.

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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 6 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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