California Driver Handbook - Special Driving Situations

Special Driving Situations

Keep Your Car Visible

The driver’s blind spots are shown here. If you look only in your mirrors, you cannot see vehicles in these blind spots, if you only look in your mirrors. Turn your head to see if a vehicle is in one of these blind spots. Do not linger in another driver’s blind spot. As quickly as you can, drop back or pass the vehicle.

What Is the Road Condition

The faster your speed, the less control you have of your vehicle. Rather than driving at the legal posted speed limit, consider adjusting you driving speed for road conditions or whatever affects the safe operation of your vehicle. For example, should you drive 35 mph (the posted speed limit) on a curve down an icy mountain road? Many inexperienced drivers do not adjust their driving speed for the road conditions; that causes them to have more "out-of-control" collisions than experienced drivers.


On curves, there is a strong outward pull on your vehicle, which is especially dangerous when the road is slippery. Rain, mud, snow, ice, and gravel make the road slippery. If a speed limit is not posted before a curve, you must judge how sharp the curve is and adjust your speed accordingly. Slow down before you enter the curve; you do not know what may be ahead (stalled car, collision, etc.). Braking on a curve may cause you to skid.

Driving in Heavy Traffic

Drive slower in heavy traffic, so you can stop within the available stopping distance.

As a general rule, drive more slowly:

  • In parking lots, and downtown areas.
  • On roads with heavy traffic.
  • When you see the brake lights of several vehicles ahead of you.
  • Over narrow bridges and through tunnels.
  • Through toll plazas.
  • Near schools, playgrounds, and in residential areas.

Traffic Speeds

Collisions are more likely to happen when one driver goes faster or slower than the other cars on the road.

If you drive faster than other traffic, you increase your chances of being involved in a collision. Studies have shown that speeding does not save more than a few minutes in an hour of driving time.

Driving slower than other vehicles or stopping suddenly can be just as dangerous, as speeding, if not more dangerous because you may cause a rear end collision or cause other drivers to swerve to avoid hitting your vehicle. If you are in the fast lane and you notice vehicles moving to the right lane to pass you, or a line of vehicles are forming behind you, the best thing to do is move into the right lane, when it is safe, and let the vehicle(s) pass.

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