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2.8 – Seeing Hazards

2.8.1 Importance Of Seeing Hazards

What is a hazard?

A hazard is any road condition or other road user (driver, bicyclist, pedestrian) that is a possible danger. For example, a car in front of you is headed toward the freeway exit, but its brake lights come on and the driver begins braking hard. This could mean that the driver is uncertain about taking the off-ramp and might suddenly return to the highway. This car is a hazard. If the driver of the car cuts in front of you, it is no longer just a hazard — it is an emergency.

Seeing Hazards Lets You Be Prepared. You will have more time to act if you see hazards before they become emergencies. In the example above, you might make a lane change or slow down to prevent a crash if the car suddenly cuts in front of you. Seeing this hazard gives you time to check your mirrors and signal a lane change. Being prepared reduces the danger. Drivers who do not see the hazard until the slow car pulled back on the highway in front of them would have to do something very suddenly. Sudden braking or a quick lane change is more likely to lead to a crash.

Learning to See Hazards. There are often clues that will help you see hazards. The more you drive, the better you can learn to see hazards. This section will talk about hazards that you should be aware of.

2.8.2 – Hazardous Roads

Slow down and be very careful if you see any of the following road hazards:

Work Zones. When people are working on the road, it is a hazard. There may be narrower lanes, sharp turns or uneven surfaces. Other drivers are often distracted and drive unsafely. Workers and construction vehicles may get in the way. Drive slowly and carefully near work zones. Use your four-way flashers or brake lights to warn drivers behind you.

Drop Offs. Sometimes the pavement drops off sharply near the edge of the road. Driving too near the edge can tilt your vehicle toward the side of the road. This can cause the top of your vehicle to hit roadside objects (signs, tree limbs). Also, it can be hard to steer as you cross the drop-off, whether going off the road or coming back on.

Foreign Objects. Things that have fallen on the road can be hazards. They can be a danger to your tires and wheel rims. They can damage electrical and brake lines. They can be caught between dual tires and cause severe damage. Some obstacles that appear to be harmless can be very dangerous. For example, cardboard boxes may be empty, but they may also contain some solid or heavy material capable of causing damage. The same is true of paper and cloth sacks. It is important to remain alert for objects of all sorts so you can see them early enough to avoid them without making sudden, unsafe moves.

Off-Ramps/On-Ramps. Freeway and turnpike exits can be particularly dangerous for commercial vehicles. Off-ramps and on-ramps often have speed limit signs posted. Remember: These speeds may be safe for automobiles but may not be safe for larger vehicles or heavily loaded vehicles. Exits that go downhill and turn at the same time can be especially dangerous. The downgrade makes it difficult to reduce speed. Braking and turning at the same time can be a dangerous practice. Make sure you are going slowly enough before you get on the curved part of an off-ramp or on-ramp.

2.8.3 – Drivers Who Are Hazards

In order to protect yourself and others, you must know when other drivers may do something hazardous. Some clues to this type of hazard are discussed below.

Blocked Vision. People who cannot see others are a very dangerous hazard. Be alert for drivers whose vision is blocked. Vans, loaded station wagons and cars with the rear window blocked are examples. Rental trucks should be watched carefully. Their drivers are often not used to the limited vision they have to the sides and rear of the truck. In winter, vehicles with frosted, ice-covered or snow-covered windows are hazards. Vehicles may be partly hidden by blind intersections or alleys. If you only can see the rear or front end of a vehicle but not the driver, then he/she cannot see you. Be alert because the driver may back out or enter into your lane. Always be prepared to stop.

Delivery Trucks Can Present a Hazard. Packages or vehicle doors often block the driver’s vision. Drivers of step vans, postal vehicles and local delivery vehicles often are in a hurry and may suddenly step out of their vehicle or drive into the traffic lane. Parked Vehicles Can Be Hazards. Parked vehicles can become hazards when people start to get out of them. Or they may suddenly start up and drive into your way. Watch for movement inside the vehicle or movement of the vehicle itself that shows people are inside. Watch for brake lights or backup lights, exhaust and other clues that a driver is about to move.

Be careful of a stopped bus. Passengers may cross in front of or behind the bus, and they often cannot see you.

Multiple-Choice Questions:

Question #106 (1 of 1)

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Off-ramps that go downhill and turn at the same time can be especially dangerous. Why?

  • Off-ramps often have speed limit signs posted that may be safe for automobiles but may not be safe for larger vehicles or heavily loaded vehicle
  • The downgrade makes it difficult to reduce speed
  • All three reasons are correct
  • Braking and turning at the same time can be a dangerous practice

Off-Ramps/On-Ramps. Freeway and turnpike exits can be particularly dangerous for commercial vehicles. Off-ramps and on-ramps often have speed limit signs posted. Remember: These speeds may be safe for automobiles but may not be safe for larger vehicles or heavily loaded vehicles. Exits that go downhill and turn at the same time can be especially dangerous. The downgrade makes it difficult to reduce speed. Braking and turning at the same time can be a dangerous practice. Make sure you are going slowly enough before you get on the curved part of an off-ramp or on-ramp.

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