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2.5 – Communicating

2.5.1 – Signal Your Intentions

Other drivers cannot know what you are going to do until you communicate your intentions. Signaling what you intend to do is important for safety. Here are some general rules for signaling.

Turns. There are three rules for using turn signals:

  • Signal early. Signal well before you turn. It is the best way to keep others from trying to pass you.
  • Signal continuously. You need both hands on the wheel to turn safely. Do not cancel the signal until you have completed the turn.
  • Cancel your signal. Do not forget to turn off your turn signal after you have turned (if you do not have self-canceling signals).

Lane Changes. Put your turn signal on before changing lanes. Change lanes slowly and smoothly. A driver you did not see may have a chance to honk his/her horn or avoid your vehicle.

Slowing Down. Warn drivers behind you when you need to slow down. A few light taps on the brake pedal — enough to flash the brake lights — should warn following drivers. Use the four-way emergency flashers for times when you are driving very slowly or are stopped.

Warn other drivers in any of the following situations:

  • Trouble Ahead. The size of your vehicle may make it hard for drivers behind you to see hazards ahead. If you see a hazard that will require slowing down, warn the drivers behind by flashing your brake lights.
  • Tight Turns. Most car drivers do not know how slowly you have to go to make a tight turn in a large vehicle. Give drivers behind you warning by braking early and slowing gradually.
  • Stopping on the Road. Truck and bus drivers sometimes stop in the roadway to unload cargo or passengers, or to stop at a railroad crossing. Warn following drivers by flashing your brake lights. Do not stop suddenly.
  • Driving Slowly. Drivers often do not realize how fast they are catching up to a slow vehicle until they are very close. If you must drive slowly, alert following drivers by turning on your emergency flashers if it is legal. (Laws regarding the use of flashers differ from one state to another. Check the laws of the states where you will drive.)

Do Not Direct Traffic. Some drivers try to help out others by signaling when it is safe to pass. You should not do this. You could cause an accident. You could be blamed and it could cost you many thousands of dollars.

2.5.2 – Communicating Your Presence

Other drivers may not notice your vehicle even when it is in plain sight. To help prevent accidents, let them know you are there.

When Passing. Whenever you are about to pass a vehicle, pedestrian or bicyclist, assume that they do not see you. They could suddenly move in front of you. When it is legal, tap the horn lightly or, at night, flash your lights from low- to high beams and back. Drive carefully enough to avoid a crash even if they do not see or hear you.

When It Is Hard to See. At dawn, dusk, in rain or snow, you need to make yourself easier to see. If you are having trouble seeing other vehicles, other drivers will have trouble seeing you. Turn on your lights. Use the headlights, not just the identification or clearance lights. Use the low beams; high beams can bother people in the daytime as well as at night.

When Parked at the Side of the Road. When you pull off the road and stop, be sure to turn on the four-way emergency flashers. This is important at night. Do not trust the taillights to give a warning. Drivers have crashed into the rear of a parked vehicle because they thought it was moving normally. Place your warning devices at the following locations:

  • If you must stop on a road or the shoulder of any road, you must put out your emergency warning devices within 10 minutes.
  • If you must stop on or by a one-way or divided highway, place warning devices 10 feet, 100 feet and 200 feet toward the approaching traffic.
  • If you stop on a two-lane road carrying traffic in both directions or on an undivided highway, place warning devices within 10 feet of the front or rear corners to mark the location of the vehicle and 100 feet behind and ahead of the vehicle, on the shoulder or in the lane you stopped in.
  • Back beyond any hill, curve or other obstruction that prevents other drivers from seeing the vehicle within 500 feet. If line of sight view is obstructed due to hill or curve, move the rear-most triangle to a point back down the road so warning is provided.

When putting out the triangles, hold them between yourself and the oncoming traffic for your own safety. (So other drivers can see you.)

Use Your Horn When Needed. Your horn can let others know you are there. It can help to avoid a crash. Use your horn when needed; however, it can startle others and could be dangerous when used unnecessarily.

Multiple-Choice Questions:

Question #75 (1 of 9)

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Which of the following is true about using your horn?

  • It can startle others and could be dangerous when used unnecessarily.
  • All of these are correct
  • It can help to avoid a crash
  • Your horn can let others know you are there.
Use Your Horn When Needed. Your horn can let others know you are there. It can help to avoid a crash. Use your horn when needed; however, it can startle others and could be dangerous when used unnecessarily.
Be very careful about startling people with your horn. Everyone considers tractor-trailer air horns to be an imminent warning of impending doom! You will have a "city horn" to go along with your air horn. The city horn sounds just like a car horn. Use that if you can get the job done with it, otherwise use the air horn.
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Question #68 (2 of 9)

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Some drivers try to help others by signaling when it is safe to pass. Should you do this, and why?

  • Yes, you should. Giving others the ok to make a move on the highway always improves safety and won't cause any issues.
  • Yes, you should. If someone runs into you because you didn't signal them, it's your fault.
  • No, you should not because you could cause an accident. You could also be blamed and it could cost you many thousands of dollars.
  • It's up to the driver. There are no consequences if you signal another vehicle to pass, regardless of what happens.
Do Not Direct Traffic. Some drivers try to help out others by signaling when it is safe to pass. You should not do this. You could cause an accident. You could be blamed and it could cost you many thousands of dollars.
Truck drivers on the Interstate will often blink their headlights to let another truck know they've made the pass, and it's ok to come back to the right-hand lane. This is legal, and it's considered a kind gesture, but it might get you in legal trouble if there's an accident and they blame you. So be very careful about signaling anything to other drivers.
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Question #72 (3 of 9)

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If you must stop on a road or the shoulder of any road, you must put out your emergency warning devices within how many minutes?

  • 60
  • 90
  • 30
  • 10
If you must stop on a road or the shoulder of any road, you must put out your emergency warning devices within 10 minutes.
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Question #71 (4 of 9)

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When parked on the side of the road, what should you do immediately, and why?

  • Turn on the four-way emergency flashers to give a warning to other vehicles.
  • Contact dispatch to let them know you're not parked at a customer
  • Keep your lights off so no one accidentally believes you're moving
  • Contact the local police so they can position themselves behind you
When Parked at the Side of the Road. When you pull off the road and stop, be sure to turn on the four-way emergency flashers. This is important at night. Do not trust the taillights to give a warning. Drivers have crashed into the rear of a parked vehicle because they thought it was moving normally.
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Question #73 (5 of 9)

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If you must stop on or near a one-way or divided highway, you should place warning devices in what locations?

  • 100 feet toward approaching traffic and 500 feet toward oncoming traffic
  • 100 feet, 200 feet, and 1000 feet toward the approaching traffic.
  • 10 feet, 100 feet, and 200 feet toward the approaching traffic.
  • 10 feet and 100 feet toward the approaching traffic and one in the middle of the closest lane
If you must stop on or by a one-way or divided highway, place warning devices 10 feet, 100 feet, and 200 feet toward the approaching traffic.
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Question #70 (6 of 9)

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At dawn, dusk, in rain or snow, you need to make yourself easier to see. What is the best way to do this?

  • Hitting the horn anytime you're near someone will alert them to your presence
  • Use your high beams so the bright light cuts through the darkness or fog
  • Turn on your headlights, not just the identification or clearance lights, and use the low beams
  • Do not turn on your headlights, but use the identification lights or clearance lights instead.

When It Is Hard to See. At dawn, dusk, in rain or snow, you need to make yourself easier to see. If you are having trouble seeing other vehicles, other drivers will have trouble seeing you. Turn on your lights. Use the headlights, not just the identification or clearance lights. Use the low beams; high beams can bother people in the daytime as well as at night.

In heavy fog or tough conditions, you're often driving considerably under the speed limit. It's common for drivers to run with their four-way flashers on to let people know they're moving slowly.
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Question #76 (7 of 9)

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There are three rules for using turn signals:

  • Signal your intentions, signal what's coming, cancel your signal
  • Signal early, signal continuously, cancel your signal.
  • None of these are true
  • Signal when necessary only, signal more at night, signal others

Turns. There are three rules for using turn signals:

  • Signal early. Signal well before you turn. It is the best way to keep others from trying to pass you.
  • Signal continuously. You need both hands on the wheel to turn safely. Do not cancel the signal until you have completed the turn.
  • Cancel your signal. Do not forget to turn off your turn signal after you have turned (if you do not have self-canceling signals).
This is very important advice. Letting others know your intentions is critical for avoiding accidents.
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Question #74 (8 of 9)

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If you stop on a two-lane road carrying traffic in both directions or on an undivided highway, where should you place warning devices?

  • 20 feet behind the vehicle and 50 feet to the side
  • 10 feet, 100 feet, and 200 feet toward the approaching traffic.
  • Within 10 feet of the front or rear corners to mark the location of the vehicle and 100 feet behind and ahead of the vehicle, on the shoulder or in the lane you stopped in.
  • Put all three alongside the tractor, but not alongside the trailer
If you stop on a two-lane road carrying traffic in both directions or on an undivided highway, place warning devices within 10 feet of the front or rear corners to mark the location of the vehicle and 100 feet behind and ahead of the vehicle, on the shoulder or in the lane you stopped in.
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Question #69 (9 of 9)

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How can you warn drivers behind you when you need to slow down or if you're driving slowly?

  • Move to the shoulder of the road and drive on the shoulder to prevent anyone from running into you
  • Never try to warn anyone behind you that you're slowing down or driving slowly
  • Make a few light taps on the brake pedal or use the four-way emergency flashers.
  • If you move the steering wheel slightly back and forth, the tail end of the trailer will "wag its tail" like a dog, signaling to people behind you to slow down.

Slowing Down. Warn drivers behind you when you need to slow down. A few light taps on the brake pedal — enough to flash the brake lights — should warn following drivers. Use the four-way emergency flashers for times when you are driving very slowly or are stopped. Warn other drivers in any of the following situations:

It's extremely important to be aware of any vehicles behind you. It could determine the safest way to handle an emergency up ahead.
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