Chapter 11

Lights and Horns

A. Lights - It is said that the eyes are a human being's window to the world. Similarly, the lights on a vehicle are its eyes and are essential to the safe operation of a motor vehicle. The following laws and requirements should be acknowledged:

1. The law requires you to use headlights from half an hour after sunset to half an hour before sunrise. Additionally, headlights must be used at any time it rains or you cannot see at least 500 ft. ahead.

2. Headlights must be on low beam when within 500 ft. of an approaching vehicle or 200 ft. of the vehicle ahead (the vehicle you are immediately following).

3. High beams may be used only when there is no direct negative impact on any other drivers.

B. Horns - Unfortunately, use of the horn has become a spark plug for road rage situations. Use of the horn, however, should not be feared, but used as a means to save lives. As a warning mechanism, there is nothing more effective in your vehicle. The horn should be used to warn other drivers simply as a communication tool.

C. Brake Lights - Brake lights must be functional and properly maintained as they are an essential part of safe driving. The driver(s) immediately following your car needs to have ample warning of an impending stop in order to adequately slow their vehicle. Missing or inoperable brake lights often lead to rear-end collisions as the drivers behind are unaware that the vehicle ahead is slowing. Tailgating is a major problem on the roads today, and inoperable brake lights only add to the danger. It is nearly impossible to judge whether a vehicle is slowing without the brakes or warning lights functioning. A simple periodic check of the vehicle's brake lights will prevent this problem from occurring. NOTE: Backing or back up lights should be maintained and properly working as they increase visibility for your vehicle and alert other motorists and pedestrians of your intention to back up. These lights are typically white when illuminated.

D. Signaling/Turn Signals - Always signal to let other drivers know of your intention to turn or change lanes. Watch for other drivers' signals at all times. Turn signals are located next to the headlights on the front and next to the brake lights on the rear of the vehicle. Turn signals allow other drivers to see your intention to turn. To signal, simply move the lever (which is connected to the steering wheel) up for a right signal or down for a left signal. Some important tips to remember include:

Emergency Vehicles

A. You must yield the right-of-way to all emergency vehicles, including police cars, ambulances, fire engines, and any other vehicles using a siren and red light. When an emergency vehicle approaches, your vehicle should never stop in the middle of the intersection, but instead pull over to the right side of the road as soon as possible.

B. Emergency vehicles travel quite rapidly, often moving into opposing lanes of traffic, and they alert other vehicles with horns or speakers that they are approaching. You should never follow within 300 feet of an emergency vehicle traveling in an emergency situation.

C. When approaching a stopped emergency vehicle displaying its emergency lights (yellow, amber, white, red or blue), you must proceed with caution and change into a lane that is not adjacent to that vehicle, if safe for existing conditions. If it is not possible to change lanes legally or safely, you must slow down to a safe speed that is reasonable and proper for the conditions and less than the posted speed limit, and be prepared to stop if required. Note: This also applies when approaching a stopped towing, recovery or highway maintenance vehicle displaying flashing yellow, amber or red lights.

Emergency vehicles exist for the safety of everyone. They need to be respected. Special Note...Stereo headphones should not be worn while driving and can contribute to accidents. You will be unable to hear emergency vehicles around you and other vehicles. Driving with headphones on is illegal and quite dangerous.

Speed Limits

Controlling your vehicle's speed is the best way to prevent loss of control and accidents. You need to be aware of legal and safe speeds at all times. Approximately 31% of all traffic fatalities in the United States are speed-related.

A. Residential District - The speed limit in a residential district is 25 mph, unless otherwise posted. Narrow streets, vehicular congestion, and pedestrians all require a reduction in speed.

B. Business District - Unless posted, the speed limit in a business district is also 25 mph. High traffic flow and vehicles exiting and entering driveways, combined with pedestrian traffic, all require slower speeds.

C. School Zone - A school zone with children present has a maximum speed limit of 25 mph. Children at play or crossing streets without looking all call for a dramatic reduction in vehicular speed. School zones have prominent street signs and markings calling for extreme caution and reduced speeds.

D. Blind Intersection - A blind intersection is where you cannot see for at least 100 ft. in either direction during the last 100 ft. before crossing. All blind intersections have 15 mph speed limits.

E. Highways/Freeways - Maximum speeds on freeways are posted, but are usually 65 mph. Two-lane undivided highways have a maximum speed of 55 mph, unless otherwise posted.

F. Railroad - The speed limit is 15 mph when a vehicle is within 100 ft. of a railroad crossing and cannot see the tracks for at least 400 ft. in both directions. NOTE: Special maximum speed limits sometimes apply. Be aware that certain road conditions or factors will call for a reduction in speed often below posted limits.

G. Alleys - When driving down an alley, the speed limit is always 15 mph whether or not signs are posted or visible.

H. Non-rural Interstate Streets - The speed limit is 55 mph on interstate highways in areas not designated as rural. On public roads and streets which are not part of the interstate or primary system, the maximum speed is 55 mph.

Don't get caught speeding with the flow of traffic. Drive at your chosen speed - not someone else's.

Driving Too Fast for Highway and Traffic Conditions

The economic cost to society of speeding-related crashes is estimated by the NHTSA to be $40.4 billion per year.

A. The basic speed law demands that you never operate a motor vehicle at a speed that is unsafe for the road or too fast for conditions. You are required to use discretion and common sense while driving and not drive at unsafe speeds. Driving 35 mph, for example, in a 35 mph zone during a severe rain storm may be a violation of the basic speed law. A determination of a safe driving speed must be made by all drivers at all times, and not just awareness of the maximum speeds allowed by law. Underlying factors that may contribute to driving conditions must be considered when assessing a safe speed. This law exists to slow down drivers in adverse conditions, not to allow them to exceed safe speeds.

B. Minimum speed laws are important to ensure safe traffic flow on roadways. If you block the normal and reasonable flow of traffic by driving too slowly, you may receive a ticket. More importantly, you may be a danger on the road to vehicles traveling at higher speeds and also risk the possibility of a rear-end collision. When driving at slow speeds, you should travel in the lane furthest to the right. Additionally, if vehicles approach and appear to want to pass, you should again signal and change lanes, proceeding to the right. Awareness of safe driving procedures when traveling at slow speeds does not only reduce the risk of a traffic collision, it also helps to avoid drivers possessed by road rage. NOTE: Always be aware of slow-moving vehicles you may be approaching.