Al-Jazirah Autoclub Magazine

مجلة نادي السيارات






Driving Tips



Driving is a privilege and a responsibility. A driver must obey all traffic laws and be prepared to react to other drivers and driving conditions.

Aggressive Driving
Aggressive driving is the operation of a motor vehicle in a manner that endangers or is likely to endanger persons or property. Persons doing any of the following may be committing acts of aggressive driving:


Running red lights and stop signs.


Passing on the shoulder of the road.

Cutting off another vehicle.

Slamming on brakes in front of a tailgater.

Improper hand or facial gestures at other drivers.


Repeatedly honking the horn.

Repeatedly flashing of headlights.

Aggressive driving is a serious problem that is responsible for many traffic accidents and fatalities. It is to your benefit to avoid aggressive drivers and potentially dangerous situations. If you encounter an angry or aggressive motorist:

Do not retaliate or in any way engage the other driver. Get out of the way.

Do not make eye contact.

Keep your doors locked and your windows up.

Keep enough space between you and the vehicle in front of you to pull out from behind.

Do not underestimate the other driver’s potential for aggression.

Anyone can become an aggressive driver. Do not let stress and frustration get the best of you while driving:

Be patient and courteous.

Do not drive when angry, overtired or upset.

Allow extra time to get to your destination.

When possible, change your schedule to avoid congestion.

Listen to relaxing music or books on tape.

Give other drivers the benefit of the doubt - all drivers make mistakes.

Avoid all conflict, even if you are right.

Alert Driving
A driver must concentrate on the road and drive defensively.

CONCENTRATION: Operating a vehicle safely demands that the driver concentrate on driving. The person should be rested, calm and not under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. One of the greatest hazards of roadway driving is drowsiness or "highway hypnosis". Lack of sleep or fatigue affects your ability to safely drive your vehicle. When taking a long trip, avoid drowsiness by stopping frequently to drink coffee, exercise or nap. Exercise your eyes by reading road signs or shifting the focus of your eyes to different parts of the roadway. Make sure you are properly rested.

DEFENSIVE DRIVING: Plan ahead for the unexpected. Always be prepared to react to the other driver. Do not expect the other driver to do what you think he or she should do. Do not think you know what he or she is going to do. If you cannot avoid a crash, remain calm and try to choose the least dangerous situation. For example, running into a ditch is less dangerous than a head-on collision. Also, your chances of survival are greater if your vehicle is in good mechanical condition.

Vehicle Following Distances

TWO-SECOND RULE: Following a vehicle too closely is called "tailgating". Use the two-second rule to determine a safe following distance. Select a fixed object on the road ahead such as a sign, tree or overpass. When the vehicle ahead of you passes the object, count "one-thousand-one, one-thousand-two". You should not reach the object before you count to one-thousand-two. If you do, you are following too closely. Most rear-end collisions are caused by the vehicle in back following too closely.

Two Second Rule

The two-second rule also applies to your speed when you are on a good road and during good weather conditions. If the road and/or weather conditions are not good, increase your distance to a four- or five-second count. If you are being tailgated, move to another lane or slowly pull off the road and allow the vehicle to pass.

Vehicle Speed
MINIMUM AND MAXIMUM SPEEDS: Driving too fast or too slowly may create a dangerous situation. Regardless of the posted speed limit, weather and traffic conditions may make it necessary to drive more slowly. However, driving too slowly also can be dangerous. Your speed should be adjusted for the conditions and match the flow of traffic, as long as it does not surpass the maximum posted speed.

STOPPING: The ability to stop your car safely should be considered when deciding your speed. Consider the following:

How quickly you can react physically and mentally.

The type and condition of the roadway. It will be more difficult and take longer to stop on wet asphalt.

The kind of tires you are using and the condition of the tread. Large, wide tires with good tread will stop a vehicle faster than small, narrow tires with little tread.

The type, condition and adjustment of your brakes.

The direction and speed of the wind. A strong tail wind can make it very difficult to stop.

Vehicle design, weight distribution, suspension and shock absorbers.

Vehicles and Trains
Crashes involving vehicles and trains can be prevented. Approaching and crossing railroad tracks require drivers to take extreme caution. Following are important laws and safety tips:

WARNING SIGNS: Railroad crossings are marked with one or more of the following signs:
A round railroad advance warning sign means a crossing is ahead. In rural areas, this sign is posted 750 feet before the tracks. It warns you to look, listen and slow down.

In front of the railroad crossing, the pavement is marked with a large X and two R’s. A solid yellow line means you may not pass another vehicle as you near the tracks.

Cross buck signs are posted at most tracks. The sign will indicate if there is more than one track.

Flashing lights always mean a train is near. Always stop when the lights begin to flash.

Some crossings also have gates. Always stop when the gates begin to lower. It is against the law to drive through, around or under these gates.

DRIVE CAREFULLY: When crossing a railroad track, be especially careful! Drive as though you expect a train on any track at any time.

SECOND TRAINS: More than one train may be on the tracks. After one train has passed, always look for a second train on another track before proceeding.

NEVER GET TRAPPED: Sometimes you may be moving with a stream of vehicles across a railroad track. Check carefully to make sure there is enough room for your vehicle on the other side of the track. If there is not enough room, do not cross the tracks.

NEVER SHIFT GEARS: If your vehicle has a manual transmission, shift down before reaching the tracks. To avoid stalling, you should not change gears while crossing the track.

NEVER RACE A TRAIN: Trying to race a train may cost you your life and those of your passengers. DO NOT race a train to a crossing.

SOME VEHICLES MUST STOP: Some vehicles must stop at railroad crossings. These include commercial vehicles carrying people for hire, school buses and vehicles carrying hazardous material. Be prepared to stop when you are behind these vehicles.

Remember, crashes involving trains and vehicles are usually caused by carelessness. Always stop, look and listen for trains. Extra safety may save your life.

Weather Conditions
Weather can create a driving hazard. Special care must be taken in fog, rain, high winds and winter driving conditions.

FOG: It is best not to drive in fog. However, if you must drive in fog, take the following precautions:

Slow down. If you see headlights or taillights, slow down even more. A driver may be driving in the center of the roadway or may be stopped or barely moving.

Drive with your headlights set on dim, or use fog lights..

Do not overdrive your headlights. Stay within the limits of your vision. You may have to stop suddenly. If the fog is too dense, pull off the roadway and stop. Do not drive at 5-10 mph.

Use your turn signal long before you turn, and brake early when you approach a stop to warn other drivers.

RAIN: When rain begins to fall lightly, water, dust, oil and leaves cause the roadway to become slippery. When this happens, increase your following distance. Take special care on curves and turns and while braking. Your headlights must be on when operating your wipers. Parking lights are not acceptable.

When rain begins to fall heavily, your tires may "hydroplane". This means the tires are riding on a layer of water and not on the roadway. Avoid hydroplaning by slowing down. If you skid while hydroplaning, try to regain control of the vehicle. Otherwise, release the accelerator and ride out the skid.

HIGH WINDS: Wind can be a difficult problem for all drivers. Wind is especially difficult for drivers of trucks, recreational vehicles, campers and trailers-in-tow. In high winds, reduce your speed and make steering corrections when you go from a protected area to an open area and when meeting large vehicles such as trucks and buses. Heavy rain or sleet often accompanies high winds. Be alert to wet or slippery areas and plan for those conditions. In high winds, the Illinois Toll way System bans the hauling of house trailers.

WINTER DRIVING: Winter is the most difficult driving season due to many reasons, including ice, snow, lower temperatures and fewer daylight hours.

Drive slower and increase your following distance. Roadway conditions may vary depending upon the sun, shade or roadway surface.

Remove all snow and ice from your vehicle. Clear all windows, and do not start driving until your windshield is defrosted and clear. Be sure you have non-freezing windshield washer liquid and that your headlights and taillights are visible.

Be sure your vehicle is maintained properly. Lights, brakes, windshield wipers, defrosters, radiator and other parts should be in good working order.

Use snow tires and/or chains (where allowed). Snow tires give you extra traction, and chains increase safety on snow or ice packed roads. Neither tires nor chains allow you to drive on bad roads at normal speeds.

Start slowly. Gentle braking in slow, steady strokes helps you find out how much traction you have. Begin braking early when you come to an intersection or a stop.

Approach bridges, shaded spots, overpasses and turns slowly. They may remain icy after the rest of the roadway is clear and dry.

Plan ahead for winter driving. Carry a blanket, food and other survival equipment, such as a shovel, in your vehicle in case you become stranded. If you become stranded, remain in your vehicle. Run your engine only for brief times, and open your window to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Make sure your vehicle tailpipe is free of snow and debris.

Equipment Failure
Crashes often happen when equipment fails. Your most important aid is remaining calm. Equipment failures may include:

BLOWOUTS: A thumping sound may be a warning of a blowout. If this happens, ease your foot off the gas pedal and keep a firm grasp on the steering wheel. Do not brake suddenly. Pull safely off the roadway and check your tires.

LOSS OF A WHEEL: React as you would with a blowout. Ease off the gas pedal and pull off the roadway.

STEERING FAILURE: If you suddenly have no control of the steering wheel, ease your foot off the gas pedal. Turn on your emergency flashers and allow your vehicle to come to a slow stop. Brake very gently to prevent your vehicle from spinning.

BRAKE FAILURE: If your brake pedal suddenly sinks to the floor, pump it to build pressure. If that does not work, use your emergency or parking brake. To slow down, shift your vehicle into a lower gear.

HEADLIGHT FAILURE: If your headlights fail suddenly, try your emergency flashers, parking lights and/or turn signals. Pull off the road. If your lights begin to dim, drive to a service station or pull off the road and seek help.

STUCK GAS PEDAL: If the gas pedal becomes stuck, hook your toe under it to free it. If it does not become free, shift your vehicle into neutral and brake gently to slow down. If you have power steering or a locking steering wheel, do not turn off the ignition, you will lose either your power steering or your ability to steer.

BLOCKED VISION: If for any reason your vision becomes blocked, roll down the side window to see. Turn on your emergency flashers and then pull your vehicle off the road.

Special Driving Situations
Just as weather and equipment affect your safety, other driving situations also require extra caution.

EXPRESSWAY DRIVING: Expressways, toll roads, turnpikes and freeways are fast, multiple-lane roads. The maximum speed limit is 55 or 65 mph. Following are some tips for safe driving on expressways:

Getting ON expressways: When entering an expressway, you will usually find a speed-change lane. This lane allows you to gain the speed necessary before merging. You should signal and look for an opening in the traffic, match traffic speed and merge with traffic when safe.

Entering an Expressway

Getting OFF expressways: Exits may be on the right or left. Be sure to be in the correct exit and speed-change lanes. Signal your intent, then slow down to make your exit in the speed-change lane.

Exiting an Expressway

Driving on expressways: Be especially alert when driving on expressways. Speed and traffic volume are major concerns:

Check your rearview and side mirrors before changing lanes.

Use your turn signals when making lane changes. 

Go to the next exit if you missed yours. Backing up on expressways is against the law.

Do not follow too closely. Allow plenty of distance between you and the car ahead.

The right lane is for slower traffic. The left lane is used for faster traffic and for passing.

Do not stop on the expressway. Pull off the road if you have a problem. Lift your car's hood and turn on your hazard flashers. Do not walk along the expressway.

NIGHT DRIVING: Night driving is difficult because things may appear differently than in daylight. Also, glare from lights may interfere with vision. Courtesy and common sense should be used when driving at night.

Never overdrive your headlights. Always keep them clean and aimed properly. Use them at dusk and dawn. Bright lights must be dimmed 500 feet before meeting an oncoming vehicle or 300 feet before passing a vehicle.

If street lights cause a lot of glare, dim your dashboard lights and use your sun visor. Avoid using any other light inside your vehicle.

Roadway signs are more difficult to see at night.

Use edge lines and center lines of the roadway as guides.

Do not stop on the roadway. If you must stop, carry and use a red warning light.

RURAL INTERSECTIONS: Depending on the time of the year, it may be difficult to see other drivers. Some rural intersections may be marked with warning signs (stop, yield, etc.), while others may not. When approaching any rural intersection, slow down and look both ways before entering the intersection. Be safe and enter all rural intersections with caution. 

CURVES: Slow down before beginning the curve. Do not brake suddenly as this may cause skidding or locked wheels. Never drive over the center line.

HEAD-ON APPROACHES: When a vehicle is approaching head-on in your lane, slow down immediately. Pull over to the right and sound your horn.

SKIDDING: Skidding occurs when tires lose traction. If you skid, ease off the gas pedal or brakes. Steer into the direction of the skid until you feel you have regained traction and then straighten your vehicle.


DRIVING OFF THE PAVEMENT: If your wheels drift off the pavement onto the shoulder, grip the wheel firmly, ease your foot off the gas pedal and brake gently. After checking for traffic behind you, gently steer back onto the pavement. Do not jerk your wheel to correct your steering. This may cause you to drive into oncoming traffic.

FIRE: If smoke appears, pull off the road. Turn off the engine, move away from the vehicle and call the fire department. Vehicle fires can be very dangerous. Do not fight the fire yourself.

WATER ACCIDENTS: If your vehicle runs off the roadway into water but does not sink right away, try to escape through a window. Because of differences in water pressure, you may not be able to open your car door. If your vehicle does sink, move to the back seat area where an air pocket usually forms. Take a deep breath and exit from a rear window.

CELLULAR PHONE USAGE: When using your cellular phone while driving, always remember your number one responsibility is driving. Persons under age 18 are prohibited from using a cell phone while driving except in an emergency. If you do use a cellular phone, take the following precautions:

Always assess traffic conditions before calling.

Be familiar with the phone's keypad - use speed dial if possible. 

Place calls when stopped, or have a passenger dial.

Make sure phone is within easy reach.

Use speaker phone/hands-free device.

Avoid intense, emotional or complicated conversations.

Avoid talking on phone in congested traffic or bad weather.

Pull off road to dial or complete a conversation.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Carbon monoxide is a deadly poison. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are weariness, yawning, dizziness, nausea, headache and ringing in the ears. You can prevent carbon monoxide poisoning by having the exhaust system checked regularly. Also, leave the window partially open when starting the engine, while driving the vehicle or when running the engine while parked. Never run the engine in your garage.

If you are in a crash that results in power lines falling on your vehicle, the danger of electrical shock exists. You should remain in your vehicle until help arrives. However, if fire is an immediate danger, you must jump clear of the vehicle. Do not allow any part of your body to touch the vehicle and the ground at the same time.

Explosive Fire Hazard
Always shut off your vehicle’s engine when refueling. Never smoke around gas pumps. For safety purposes, remain with the pump while refueling and avoid returning to vehicle during the pumping process.

Being Pulled Over by Law Enforcement
Slow down and pull over safely as soon as possible. If the police vehicle is unmarked and you cannot identify the driver as a police officer, drive slowly and carefully below the speed limit to a well-lit, populated spot and pull over, or go to the nearest police station, attempt to attract the attention of a uniformed officer or make a call.

Stay in the driver’s seat with both hands clearly in sight on the steering wheel until the officer instructs you otherwise or the traffic stop is complete. Do not exit your vehicle unless asked to do so. Getting out of your car can be perceived as aggressive behavior and a threat to the officer’s safety. Turn on your interior light if stopped at night.

Comply with the officer’s request to see your driver’s license and proof of insurance. If these items are in the glove box or under the seat, inform the officer of that fact and then follow his directions before retrieving them.

If you are issued a ticket requiring a signature, sign it. Signing a ticket is not an admission of guilt—only an acknowledgment of receiving the ticket.

If you are suspected of drunk driving, cooperate with the officer(s) on the scene. If you refuse to submit to breath, blood or performance tests, your refusal could result in loss of driving privileges.

Get out of the automobile only if asked to do so.

Be aware that you may have committed some minor traffic violation without realizing it, there may be some problem with your vehicle of which you are unaware, or you might be driving a vehicle that is similar to one used in a serious crime. Many officers will not provide specific reasons for the stop until they have your license and insurance card in hand. Therefore, they will avoid having to debate the reason for the stop before they receive these items from you.

If you wish to offer an explanation of your circumstances when stopped, do so before the officer returns to his vehicle. The officer cannot void the ticket once it has been written. Cooperate during the incident even if you believe you haven’t committed an offense. If you believe you have been treated unfairly, present your case in traffic court and not to the officer along the roadway.

You are to be treated with dignity and respect by the officer. If you believe that an officer has acted inappropriately during a traffic stop or other encounter, you should report that conduct as soon as possible to the officer’s superiors.

Officers are required to provide their names and badge number upon request.

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