Section 7 Review

Emergencies Within the Vehicle

Objective: The student will explain how to handle an emergency in the car. The student will also identify night driving strategies to reduce the risk of collision.

What would you do if suddenly a bee or a spider hit you in your face while you were driving? What if a cigarrette ember flew onto your lap? These are situations that will test anyone's ability not to panic. If a driver is going to be stung, burned or bitten, let that be the worst of it. Do not add a crash to it.

First, signal, then pull over and stop. Tell your teen to pull over far enough that when she jumps out of the car, she won't end up in traffic. Teach that the best time to deal with this emergency is while the car is stopped, not while it's moving.


Night Driving Hazards

Night driving has its own special characteristics and pitfalls. Your teen will have to learn to adjust to these. The most fatalities per capita occur at night.

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Night Driving Hazards (Continued)

At night, most DWI's occur, more drivers fall asleep behind the wheel, and there is less visibility. A survey of traffic accidents confirms this. Slightly more than one-third of all police-reported crashes are recorded from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Forty one percent of the severe or fatal injury crashes were reported during that same time frame. Since visibility is very poor at night, a wise strategy is to begin by adjusting speed for night driving.

In areas where street lighting is poor or non-existent, illumination will not extend beyond your headlights. Driving too fast under these conditions is known as "over-driving the headlights." For example, when driving at night, let's say that headlights will allow a driver to see clearly 250 feet ahead.

At 50 mph, an object in the roadway would be illuminated with enough distance still remaining to avoid striking it. However, at 65 mph, 260 feet is needed to stop. This would be over 10 feet beyond visible range. At that speed, it would be nearly impossible to stop in time to avoid a collision.

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Night Driving Hazards (Continued)

High beams are helpful in combating poor visibility at night, especially where street lighting is sparse. Headlights should be dimmed, however, when an approaching vehicle is within 500 feet.

When following another car, headlights should be dimmed within 200 feet of the car in front of you. Sometimes, other drivers will forget that their high beams are on. It is customary to flash the headlights (one time) from low to high and back to low to alert the other driver to dim his.

Tell your teen that if the other vehicle's lights are not dimmed, DO NOT RETALIATE BY LEAVING THE HIGH BEAMS ON. This will result in two drivers who cannot see the roadway.

When others do not switch to low beam, try looking at the right edge of the roadway. This will allow you to see the road markings or reflectors along the edge of the roadway. Using these markings as a guide will help keep the car safely on the right side of the roadway.

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Night Driving Hazards (Continued)

Night Driving Statistics:

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Texas Topic - Dealing with Driver Fatigue. The student will recognize the symptoms for fatigue and will develop strategies to avoid driving while fatigued.

Stay Alert

All of the above situations must be seen and identified before the driver can react. Driver fatigue prevents the driver's brain from processing what the eyes see. Tired drivers, bored drivers, distracted drivers, and confused drivers are not ready to react to emergencies. Now is a good time to discuss with your teen how reaction time is affected by sleep deprivation, illness, and chemical influences. While we would all agree that illegal drugs and driving do not mix, you should remind your teen that prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications can affect his reaction time. A safe, responsible driver will assess his suitability to drive in relation to the above factors.

Faulty Driver Performance is a major cause of many collisions. The following are examples of faulty driver performance:

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

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Vehicle Balance

Objective: The student will describe changes in vehicle balance and discuss strategies for reducing risk and regaining control during traction loss, off road recovery, and collision. The student will demonstrate proper response to a collision using an accident report worksheet.

When your vehicle is at rest, its suspension, geometry, and tire pressure keep it balanced. While in motion, a number of other concepts come into play. The rule of thumb is that loss of traction means loss of control. A vehicle out of control is a collision about to happen.

Vehicle in Motion

A sudden change to any one of your primary inputs, steering, braking, and acceleration, will change vehicle balance and traction dramatically. All of your control inputs should be smooth and gradual. Sudden hard steering will cause the center of mass to transfer to the opposite front tire (sudden hard steering to the right will cause the center of mass to shift to the left front tire). This transfer will cause a drop and tilt of the hood with a corresponding rise and tilt of the rear that the occupants can feel as they move forward to the corner of the vehicle.

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Vehicle in Motion (Continued)

In vehicles with a high center of gravity, this can cause a roll over. Changes in balance from side to side, therefore, are referred to as changes in the vehicle's "roll." Sudden braking creates a similar feel except that the center of mass transfers to the whole front of the vehicle instead of one of the corners.

Sudden hard acceleration creates the opposite feeling with the hood rising and occupants feeling a rearward movement often compared to the G's felt by pilots and astronauts. Changes in balance to the front and rear of the vehicle such as the examples above are referred to as changes in "pitch."

Recognizing Traction Loss - Traction loss generally occurs when there is an inappropriate steering, braking, or acceleration for the driving conditions. Initially, this traction loss will either be in the front or rear tires.

If the traction loss is to the front tires, Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) can help. In a car without ABS it is important to keep your foot off both gas and brake pedals as you steer toward your intended path of travel.

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Vehicle in Motion (Continued)

Recognizing Traction Loss - In a car with ABS, immediate application of the brakes will activate ABS and assist you in steering to your intended path. Vehicles with Traction Control System (TCS) have an advantage in rear wheel skids. By accelerating gently, the TCS will kick in and assist you in regaining steering.

In vehicles without TCS, it is best to remove both accelerating and braking inputs and allow gravity and steering to get you on the right path. These modern innovations allow you to use the physics of balance and the "smart" technology to regain control and be a safer driver.

The Force of Gravity - The force that pulls objects towards the center of the earth. Gravity plays a major roll on the movement of automobiles.

Inertia and Energy - Property in matter that, if at rest, causes it to remain at rest, or if in motion, causes it to remain in motion, unless it is acted upon by an outside force.

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Vehicle in Motion (Continued)

Inertia and Energy

The Force of Friction - The resistance to movement of one surface over another surface.

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Vehicle in Motion (Continued)

The Force of Friction - 

Centrifugal and Centripetal Force - The reaction to the centripetal force (force which keeps an object moving in a curved path) necessary to hold an object at a fixed point in a rotating frame.


Understeering & Oversteering

Front-Wheel Skid (Loss of Traction) - A front-wheel skid is also known as understeer. When this happens, your vehicle will slide straight ahead regardless of how you steer because your front tires control steering but they have lost traction. Typically, this happens on a slick surface when you are trying to steer through a curve.

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Understeering & Oversteering (Continued)

Front-Wheel Skid (Loss of Traction)

Often, the first sign of a front-wheel skid is visual because your vehicle is being propelled by the rear tires pushing straight ahead instead of rounding the intended curve. Your first reaction should be to release all braking or accelerating input and allow the vehicles weight to reform the tires from the sidewall to the tread. At the same time, ease off the steering.

A quick jab to the brake pedal will help shift weight to the front if your vehicle does not respond. To steer out of a front wheel skid, identify a visible target on your intended path of travel and turn your steering wheel toward it. You may have to make subtle readjustments as you go; this is called counter steering. Keep your steering movements slow and precise to avoid further skidding and steer only as much as you must to reestablish your path of travel.

Rear Wheel Skid

A rear wheel skid is known as oversteer. It is important to correct the skid quickly to avoid turning 180 degrees. You know you have lost traction when the front of your vehicle begins turning out of your path of travel.

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Understeering & Oversteering (Continued)

Rear-Wheel Skid (Loss of Traction)

Your rear wheels will begin to slide around to one side or the other. Changes of vehicle balance that result in such a spinning motion are referred to as changes in "yaw." Your course of action should be to keep your intended path of travel in view and ease off of the brake or accelerator.

Steer toward your targeted path and use light acceleration as the rear tires regain their grip. Steering and counter steering toward your desired path will help prevent a 180 or 360 spin. Light acceleration will transfer weight to help the rear tires regain traction.

Recovering From The Skid

As we discussed in the last chapter, a driver can expect to drive on slick pavement from time to time. Let's discuss what to do in case of a skid. First of all, there are different types of skids. There are power skids, braking skids and loss of traction skids. A power skid is the result of having too much power on the drive wheels for the traction of the road surface. Power skids are common on sand, snow, or ice. 

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Recovering From The Skid (Continued)

If a power skid happens on the rear wheels, the rear of the car will skid to the left or right. Generally, letting up off the accelerator will cause the car to straighten itself. The best way to avoid a power skid is to accelerate gradually. This is especially critical on slick surfaces. The same applies to front-wheel drive. Let up off the accelerator, and the car will straighten itself.

A braking skid occurs when braking is too great for the road surface. The best way to avoid a braking skid is to look well ahead. While driving on snow or ice, press your brakes gradually until the car begins to skid; then let up. While skidding, your steering is lost. To regain steering control, let up off the brake.

For ABS brakes, steering is possible while braking. To pull your vehicle out of the skid, traffic safety professionals will tell you to turn into the skid. Simply stated, turn the wheel in the direction you want the car to go.

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Recovering From The Skid (Continued)

A sudden loss of traction can occur when you are just cruising down a straight stretch of road. This generally happens during heavy rainfall, or when thin ice is on the road. Losing traction happens quickly and unexpectedly, however, it rarely happens without some sign that the condition might exist. One example is black ice, which is often not readily apparent on the road surface.

Remember: you cannot have ice unless the surface temperature is below freezing. Whenever the air temperature is below freezing, expect icy roads and slow down. Also, most hydroplaning occurs when it's raining. WHEN THESE CONDITIONS EXIST, SLOW DOWN AND BE ALERT. Slowing down greatly reduces the chance of skidding.

If a car suddenly goes into an unanticipated skid, the first thing to do is to let up off the accelerator. Next, turn your wheel in the direction of the skid. This is a confusing concept, especially when the skid is occurring at the rear wheels.

For that reason, we prefer to describe it as turning in the direction you want the car to go. STAY OFF THE BRAKE unless absolutely necessary. Slow the car gradually until it is under control; then accelerate to a safe speed. Remember: these skids are caused by inclement road conditions which may demand speeds lower than the speed limit.

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Wheels off the Pavement

You're cruising down the road and suddenly your right side tires drop off the paved surface. Would you know what to do? The greatest hazard (and most likely occurrence) is that drivers will panic and turn too quickly back onto the pavement. The car will often end up in the oncoming lane or roll over. To avoid this, use controlled off-road recovery. The steps for off-road recovery are as follows:

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Objects in the Road

When a driver cannot avoid running over an object in the roadway, proper technique will have to be used if he is to maintain control of the car. The first action to take is to slow down.

Whenever possible, center the vehicle over the object, so as not to drive over it with the tires. If it cannot be centered, press on the brake until the object is about to be driven over. Release the brake pedal and slowly drive over the object.


There are always two collisions in a crash. The first collision is the vehicles impact with an outside object. The second collision is the occupants impact with the vehicle. The worst kind of emergency is the crash and the worst possible crash is a head-on collision.

In a head-on collision, the force of the two vehicles is multiplied. Two vehicles traveling at 40 mph in a head-on collision is the same as striking a concrete wall at 80 mph. Whatever it takes, avoid a head-on collision.

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Collisions (Continued)

The next worst scenario is a frontal crash with a solid immobile object. Striking something with a glancing blow is much better than head-on. Anytime the force of an impact can be distributed widely, the potential for severe injuries will be reduced, as compared to a direct frontal strike.

If an accident is imminent, whenever possible, strike the object from an angle rather than head-on. This is called a near-frontal collision. Other kinds of collisions include broadside, rear-end, rollover, and sideswipe. If another vehicle is about to run head-on into the side of your vehicle, this is called a broadside collision.

Although all of the occupants of your vehicle can be seriously injured, the greatest injury will be to those occupants on the side of impact. To reduce the damage of a potential broadside collision, accelerate your vehicle to move the point of impact behind the passenger compartment. A lateral impact with the trunk of your car is a much better alternative to any impact directly on a passenger.

We already addressed rear-end collisions in Section 5. The most common injury related to a rear-end collision is neck injury such as whiplash. Be sure your head restraints are set properly to support your occupants.

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Collisions (Continued)

You may also reduce the risk of rear-end collisions by keeping a larger front margin. If you do not have to stop quickly, the vehicle behind you will not have to stop quickly either.

Roll over collisions not only have a high potential for damage, they are also extremely frightening. Risk of injury in a rollover is much worse if the vehicle occupants are not properly restrained with seatbelts or child safety restraints.

An unbelted passenger can be thrown from the automobile, or even find herself pinned under the vehicle. If your vehicle is already off balance in terms of roll (the vehicle load has shifted to one side or the other) you are more vulnerable to a rollover collision should another vehicle impact you at an angle. To reduce your vulnerability, remember to use smooth, controlled steering, braking, and acceleration.

Like the name suggests, a sideswipe collision refers to an impact that "swipes" along the "side" of your vehicle. This is typically the least damaging type of collision. To say that a sideswipe collision is not as severe as the other collisions is not to say that it is a pleasant experience. All collisions are to be avoided, but if you can angle your vehicle to avoid a frontal or near-frontal collision in favor of a sideswipe, you should do so. 

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Involvement in a Crash

The following is a brief synopsis of a driver's responsibility when in a collision that causes injury or death to another driver. Also included is a sample Accident Report Form

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Texas Good Samaritan Act

Encourages citizens to give emergency care without having to worry about being sued for negligence.

Liability for Emergency Care 

Unlicensed Medical Personnel

Persons not licensed in the healing arts who in good faith administer emergency care as emergency medical service personnel are not liable in civil damages for an act performed in administering the care unless the act is wilfully or wantonly negligent. This section applies without regard to whether the care is provided for or in expectation of remuneration.

Take a look at this Accident Reporting Worksheet

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

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Vehicle Stability Technologies

Objective: The student will identify four vehicle technologies that aid in vehicle stability and reduce the risk of collision.

To help reduce the risk of collisions and fatalities, new technologies have been developed. Having discussed collisions, collision avoidance, and reacting to collisions, let us turn our attention to the technologies that help us in the event of a driving emergency. Discussion of vehicle stability technologies logically begins with the brakes.

Brakes are designed to pinch your wheels, the wheels hold the tires, and the friction of the tires on the ground stops the vehicle. Most vehicles have two braking systems: hydraulic brakes that are applied through the brake pedal and a mechanical brake used in emergencies or for parking. Most brake systems have the following components:

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Duel Master Cylinder

Vehicle Stability Technologies (Continued)

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Electronic Stability Switch

Vehicle Stability Technologies (Continued)

Now let's address some of the modern innovations and technologies that may be included on your vehicle:

Technology for Protection

New vehicle technology aids the driver in maintaining balance control when performing avoidance maneuvers and increased protection should a crash occur. Enhanced control is provided through technologies such as the following:

Anti-lock brake systems (ABS) which are designed to allow steering and simultaneous braking without losing vehicle balance. Anti-lock brakes do not necessarily shorten stopping distance on dry pavement, but generally shorten stopping distances on wet surfaces where traction loss can be a serious problem.

Traction control systems (TCS) are designed to activate brake sensors, which do not allow the wheels to spin. The process is basically the reverse of anti-lock brakes. The device allows acceleration input without loss of vehicle balance.

Suspension control systems (SCS) adjust vehicle balance at struts or shock absorbers through adjustment of fluid or air pressure when too much weight is suddenly transferred to a given shock or strut.

Electronic Stability Program (ESP) compares where a driver is steering the vehicle with where the vehicle is actually going. When ESP senses a disparity between the two, it selectively applies any one of the vehicle's brakes to reduce the discrepancy and help the driver retain control and stability.

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Technology for Protection (Continued)

In Case of Oversteering when ESP detects oversteer, it applies the outside front brake.

In Case of Understeering when ESP detects understeer, it applies the inside rear brake to help the vehicle rotate faster.

Anti-Lock Braking Systems (ABS) - ABS is a computer-controlled system that determines if your wheels are about to lock up and then adjusts the brake torque to prevent locking. The front tires are controlled independently but the back tires may be controlled independently or as a pair. In most cases, vehicles with ABS have a better stopping distance than those without.

Vehicle stability is also improved because wheel lock is avoided. Another way to think of ABS is "Allows Braking and Steering". Improved stability and absence of wheel lock mean that you can swerve while you stop to avoid a collision.

Rear Wheel Anti-Lock (RWAL) - RWAL is very similar to ABS except that RWAL does not allow braking and steering.

Engine and Brake Traction Control Systems (EBTCS) - EBTCS is also a computer-based system. In this case, the computer has the ability to determine if a drive wheel is spinning and apply brake force individually to the wheels to limit the spin.

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Technology for Protection (Continued)

Engine and Brake Traction Control Systems (EBTCS) - In addition to using brake torque, EBTCS may also adjust engine torque. Vehicle mobility and acceleration are enhanced on road surfaces that do not have uniform traction such as a dry road with a patch of ice. By enlisting engine torque to help control the individual wheels, brake use is reduced and the brakes do not wear as fast.

Brake Traction Control System (BTCS) - Similar to EBTCS, BTCS accomplishes the same thing with limitations. Since BTCS cannot control engine torque it must be used for limited time periods, especially at higher speeds. If the brakes get too hot, BTCS will shut off.

Engine Only Traction Systems (ETS) - This type of traction control system also improves vehicle stability, steering, and acceleration but it is limited to using engine torque only. Since brakes are not involved in the traction control it cannot transfer torque from one wheel to another.

Active Yaw Control Systems (AYC) - AYC systems use a computer to limit understeer and oversteer through a closed loop algorithm. These systems monitor steering input and adjust the brakes to correct yaw torques to the vehicle and do not have high-speed limitations.

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Active Yaw Control Rate Sensor

Technology for Protection (Continued)

Active Yaw Control Systems (AYC) - Additionally, they work in concert with ABS and TCS. AYC can be divided into four categories:

All Active Yaw Control Systems are assumed to include ABS. The vehicles may also include other brake-related or stability enhancement features such as:

If any of these features are included on the vehicle, the Active Yaw Control System must be capable of coordinating their activities to aid the driver in maintaining control of the vehicle and to prevent undesirable interactions.

Active Yaw Control Systems use various sensors (typically wheel speed sensors, steering angle sensors, yaw rate sensors, and accelerometers) to monitor the dynamic state of the vehicle and the driver's commands. 

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Technology for Protection (Continued)

Active Yaw Control Systems (AYC) - They then apply the vehicle's brakes (and adjust engine torque) to make appropriate adjustments to the rotational movement about the vehicle's vertical axis and correct the path of the vehicle to the driver's intended path. These systems improve the vehicle's stability, the driver's control of the vehicle, and correct understeer and oversteer conditions that occur.

The type of Active Yaw Control used on a specific vehicle is the decision of the vehicle manufacturer. Factors affecting this decision may include handling characteristics of the vehicle, vehicle weight distribution, powertrain size and type, intended vehicle use, size, cost, and targeted customer.

Other Stability Enhancement Features

While the emphasis of today's Yaw Control Systems is placed on control of the brake forces, the broader objective of such systems is to control the forces between the tire and the road by any actuation mechanism. In addition to the brakes, other systems are capable of effecting the wheel forces and thereby influencing the vehicle's dynamic behavior. These systems include the suspension, steering, and drivetrain.

Controlled suspension systems have the ability to manage vertical wheel loads and thus influence the longitudinal and lateral force capability of each tire.

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Other Stability Enhancement Features (Continued)

Controlled steering systems have the ability to actively adjust the steered angle or the camber angle of any or all of the wheels to influence the longitudinal and lateral forces of the tire.

Drivetrain controls have the ability to adjust the engine torque applied to each of the wheels to influence the longitudinal and lateral forces of the tire. This may be accomplished by a combination of engine torque adjustment and control of differentials to manage the torque across axles.

Integrated Vehicle Systems

These systems combine vehicle stability features such as ABS, Traction Control, Electronic Brake Distribution (Dynamic Rear Proportioning), Active Yaw Control Systems, Suspension Controls, and Steering Controls on one vehicle. They are very helpful in avoiding or reacting to a skid.

The advent of the automotive microprocessor and sensor technologies has made possible an array of electronically controlled vehicle stability enhancement systems. These systems have the capability of applying or regulating the brake force at the wheels to influence the stability and/or steering and handling of the vehicle. In addition, many of the systems have interfaces with the powertrain, suspension, steering, and other vehicle systems to further enhance their control capability.

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Other Stability Enhancement Features (Continued)

Each system is designed to optimize the use of the friction at the tire/road interface. Since the friction between patches of tire and the road surface is the force which allows the vehicle to accelerate, decelerate, and turn, optimization of this force provides the opportunity to enhance vehicle stability and handling.

Some of these systems, such as ABS, have widespread application in the market and already are contributing to improved handling and control of vehicles. Others, such as Active Yaw Control, are beginning to penetrate the market and demonstrate their benefits in assisting driver control and making further contributions to vehicle safety.

As these systems have been developed, each manufacturer has included its own features and in many cases has marketed them under their own name. In some cases this has caused confusion in the industry. In some cases, different systems may have been called the same or very similar names, and in other cases, similar systems have been referred to by different names.

Some differentiation between manufacturers will continue to exist, and manufacturers will continue to market features or combinations of features under their own names. The definitions outlined here provide a baseline set of agreed-upon definitions to avoid confusion, to represent the current state of the art vehicle control technologies, and provide building blocks for further development.

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

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Consider the following activities and choose some to complete:

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When you get behind the wheel after Section 7, you should focus on each point below and master them before proceeding to the next section:

The Student Driver:

  • Repeats, in complex risk environment, the elements of behind-the-wheel and in-car observation covered in Section 3 - 6 if additional attention to master skills is required.

  • Practices communication and space management skills.

  • Demonstrates, in no-risk, simulated situations, appropriate responses and avoidance techniques to fatigued, impaired and aggressive driving and drivers.

  • Performs speed and position changes in traffic at high speeds.

  • Utilizes proper procedures to parallel park.

  • Demonstrates no-risk, simulated compensation techniques for limited visibility conditions such as darkness, glare, dirty windshields, fog and inclement weather.

  • Simulates recognition and no-risk avoidance techniques of low water crossing and roadway areas blocked by water.

  • Recognizes and explains purpose of specific highway safety design features such as shoulders, rumble strips, median barriers, traffic calming devices, breakaway support poses, guard rails, crash attenuators, turn bays, collector and distributors lands and message signs.

  • Uses low and high beam headlights appropriately.

  • Describes risk reduction techniques for controlling consequences of vehicular breakdowns, collisions, traction loss and skid.

  • Demonstrates in a no-risk, non-damaging, simulated situation, the recovery procedures for an off-road position lost.

  • Participates in commentary driving while being evaluated and is provided a verbal and written evaluation on behind-the-wheel and observation elements of Section 7.

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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 7 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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