happy driver

Chapter 5
Time requirement of chapter: 55 minutes



Chapter 5 will challenge you on searching for traffic hazards and identifying potential and immediate hazards. The chapter will help you to predict the possible effect of a potential hazards, decide what evasive maneuver is most appropriate, and how to execute the evasive action in time to avoid a collision..


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There are many hidden factors which some drivers do not consider when they operate a motor vehicle. As part of this chapter we want to address these important factors.


At one time or another all of us have been distracted while driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 99% of all traffic crashes in the United States are due to driver error. Many of these crashes are simply as a result of driver distraction. Becoming distracted is not that hard to do. Simply gazing out the window, searching for the perfect mood music on the ride home, or biting into a sloppy burrito can cause our focus on driving to be interrupted. What’s so disturbing is that most drivers don’t consider themselves distracted.

Below are some ways to remained focused on your driving:

  • Stay focused and pay attention!
  • Limit interaction with passengers
  • Avoid talking while driving
  • Avoid taking your eyes off the road
  • Keep both hands on the wheel
  • Don’t daydream.
  • Don’t drive if you are tired.
  • Share the driving responsibilities on long trips
  • Don’t drive when angry or upset.
  • Emotions can interfere with safe driving. Wait until you have cooled down or resolved problems to drive.
  • Avoid “gawking,” or slowing down to look at a crash or other activity.
  • If you need to use your cell phone while driving: Pull off the road and stop in a safe place before using your phone.
distracted driver

Cell Phones:

In the United States over 212 million people are currently using cell phones and the number is continually rising. Increased reliance on cell phones has led to a rise in the number of people who use the devices while driving. There are two dangers associated with driving and cell-phone use.

First, drivers must take their eyes off the road while dialing. Second, people can become so absorbed in their conversations that their ability to concentrate on the act of driving is severely impaired.

Motorists who use cell phones while driving are 4 times more likely to get into crashes. A recent study from the University of Utah, concludes that taking on a cell phone while driving is as dangerous as driving impaired, even if the phone is a hands-free model. It doesn’t make any difference if the phone is hand-free. It’s the listening that makes the difference, not the nature of the instrument.


Talking with passengers while driving is different as the passengers will probably lighten up on conversation if red lights are flashing in the distance, but if you’re on a cell phone, the other person may not even know you are driving and may ratchet up the complexity, or emotional content, of the conversation without knowing you are in a very precarious situation.

They have no way of knowing you are concentrating on the conversation when you should be concentrating on your driving and that you can’t devote equal attention to both.

Obviously the safest choice is to never operate a cellular telephone while driving. If the call is important enough to answer, then it is important enough to pull off in a safe and secure location to talk.

Here are some additional ideas:



According to the National Sleep Foundation’s Sleep in America poll, 60% of adult drivers (about 168 million people) say they have driven a vehicle while feeling drowsy in the past year, and more than one-third (37% or 103 million people) have actually fallen asleep at the wheel! In fact, of those who have nodded off, 13% say they have done so at least once a month. 4%, approximately eleven million drivers, admit they have had a collision or a near collision because they dozed off or were too tired to drive.


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conservatively estimates drowsy driving annually results in 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries, and $12.5 billion in monetary losses.

Sleep related crashes are most common in young people, especially men, adults with children, and shift workers. Men are more likely than women to drive while drowsy and are almost twice as likely as women to fall asleep while driving. Adults with children in the household are more likely to drive drowsy than those without children. Shift workers are more likely than those who work a regular daytime schedule to drive to or from work drowsy at least a few days a month.

According to a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, people who sleep six to seven hours a night are twice as likely to be involved in a crash as those sleeping 8 hours or more, while people sleeping less than 5 hours increased their risk four to five times.

Fatigue is a general term commonly used to describe the experience of being “sleepy,” “tired,” “drowsy,” or “exhausted.” While all of these terms have different meanings in research and clinical settings, they tend to be used interchangeably in the traffic safety and transportation fields.

There are many underlying causes of sleepiness, fatigue and drowsy driving. Sleep loss from restriction or too little sleep, interruption or fragmented sleep; chronic sleep debt; circadian factors associated with driving patterns or work schedules; undiagnosed or untreated sleep disorders; time spent on a task; the use of sedating medications; and the consumption of alcohol when already tired. These factors have cumulative effects and a combination of any of these can greatly increase one’s risk for a fatigue-related crash.


Sleepiness or Fatigue Causes the Following:

Warning signs of drowsy driving:

Counter measures for drowsy driving:

Before the trip:

During travel:

The American Medical Association has stated that all Humans need
a minimum of 8 hours of proper sleep per night
in order to function at their peak productivity.

Resources: Foundation.htm,,,,,,,,


The American Medical Association has stated that 70 to 85 percent of all illnesses are stress related. Stress is an unavoidable consequence of life. Stress is not always necessarily harmful. It’s very much like the stress on a violin string. Not enough stress produces a dull, raspy sound.

Too much tension makes a shrill, annoying noise or snaps the string. However, just the right degree can create a magnificent tone. Similarly, we all need to find the proper level of stress that allows us to perform optimally and make melodious music as we go through life.

Stress is the “wear and tear” our bodies experience as we adjust to our continually changing environment; it has physical and emotional effects on us and can create positive or negative feelings. When we are stressed, the central nervous system triggers the release of stress chemicals that prepare us for emergency action.

In response to these chemicals, our blood pressure goes up, muscles tense up, stored fat for energy is released, and the immune system is suppressed to prevent it from making antibodies that attack the body’s own tissues in the event of an injury.

This physical reaction to stress is a survival trait known as “fight or flight” or our stress response. Thousands of years ago, it helped our ancestors protect themselves from wild animals and other physical threats. As a positive influence, stress can help compel us to action; it can result in a new awareness and an exciting new perspective.


The events that provoke stress are called stressors, and they cover a whole range of situations. Everything from outright physical danger to making a class presentation or taking a semester’s worth of your toughest subject. Long-term stressful situations can produce a lasting, low-level stress that’s hard on people. The nervous system senses continued pressure and may remain slightly activated and continue to pump out extra stress hormones over an extended period.

This can wear out the body’s reserves, leave a person feeling depleted or overwhelmed, weaken the body’s immune system, and cause other problems.

Today, most of our stress is annoying rather than life threatening. Yet, left unmanaged, stress can cause serious damage to our bodies.

Stress may begin while driving or before the driver has even begun to enter the vehicle. A number of factors can serve to cause stress and these include a headache, heavy traffic, running late, and even aggravating music from another vehicle.

Individuals can be stressed because of other circumstances in their lives such as financial concerns, problems with children, marriage problems, or problems at work; the list goes on and on.

As a negative influence, it can result in feelings of distrust, rejection, anger, and depression, which in turn can lead to health problems such as headaches, upset stomach, rashes, insomnia, ulcers, high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.

With the death of a loved one, the birth of a child, a job promotion, or a new relationship, we experience stress as we re-adjust our lives. In so adjusting to different circumstances, stress will help or hinder us depending on how we react to it.

To relieve stress, we sometimes resort to habits that can cause poor health such as smoking, overeating, taking drugs, or abusing alcohol. These recommendations are some examples of ways to help manage stress.

Take a stand against over-scheduling. If you’re feeling stretched, consider cutting out an activity or two, opting for just the ones that are most important to you.

Be realistic. Don’t try to be perfect – no one is. And expecting others to be perfect can add to your stress level, too (not to mention put a lot of pressure on them!). If you need help on something, like schoolwork, ask for it.

Get a good night’s sleep. Getting enough sleep helps keep your body and mind in top shape, keeping you better equipped to deal with any negative stressors. Because the biological “sleep clock” shifts during adolescence, many teens prefer staying up a little later at night and sleeping a little later in the morning. But if you stay up late and still need to get up early for school, you may not get all the hours of sleep you need.

Learn to relax. The body’s natural antidote to stress is called the relaxation response. It’s your bodies opposite of stress, and it creates a sense of well-being and calmness. A person can trigger the relaxation response by learning simple breathing exercises. Building time into your schedule for activities such as reading or having a hobby or just taking a walk can help you relax.

Treat your body well. Experts agree that getting regular exercise helps people manage stress. Eat well to help your body get the right fuel to function at its best. Under stressful conditions, the body needs its vitamins and minerals more than ever.

stress ideas

Watch what you’re thinking. Your outlook, attitude, and thoughts influence the way you see things. Is your cup half full or half empty? A healthy dose of optimism can help you make the best of stressful circumstances. Even if you’re out of practice, or tend to be a bit of a pessimist, everyone can learn to think more optimistically and reap the benefits.

Solve the little problems. Learning to solve everyday problems can give you a sense of control; avoiding them can leave you feeling like you have little control and that just adds to stress. Develop skills to calmly look at a problem, figure out options, and take some action toward a solution. Feeling capable of solving little problems builds the inner confidence to move on to life’s bigger ones - and it and can serve you well in times of stress.

Build Your Resilience. Ever notice that certain people seem to adapt quickly to stressful circumstances and take things in stride? They’re cool under pressure and able to handle problems as they come up. Researchers have identified the qualities that make some people seem naturally resilient even when faced with high levels of stress. If you want to build your resilience, work on developing these attitudes and behaviors:

Learn to think of challenges as opportunities and stressors as temporary problems, not disasters. Practice solving problems and asking others for help and guidance rather than complaining and letting stress build. Make goals and keep track of your progress. Be optimistic. Believe in yourself, and let a little stress motivate you into positive action to reach your goals.

Stress While Driving:

When considering stress management, there is no one thing that works for everyone, but having a positive attitude is the best first step. Try and identify the cause of the stress then consider if having a negative reaction will change the situation. Will the current situation be important five years from the current date, one year, one month, one week, or even one day? The reality is most of the time if we react negatively to a stressful situation while driving we will not change the situation and in the long run the situation will have very little impact on our lives.

Changing our negative self-talk to positive will normally relieve stress. Think about the comments you might make while driving.

Sometimes, just counting to ten before reacting will allow your mind time to cool off before making an improper and unsafe decision.


Aggressive Driving:

The news media in the United States initially reported only on Road Rage. However, Road Rage is only one factor in the aggressive driving problem in our country. There are actually three separate steps to the final act of Road Rage. The first is road negativity. The second is the act of aggressive driving. The last component is the criminal act of Road Rage.

road rage

Road Negativity is a negative response to being encapsulated within the confined space of motor vehicle while being subjected to the stresses of driving. Drivers are more inclined to negative thoughts and feelings. They are more predisposed to yelling at a spouse, or partner, screaming at, or hitting, the child passengers. Such over reacting can be evoked by a variety of stimuli which could include feeling criticized for the manner of driving, children quarreling, whining, or complaining; a predisposition to becoming angry is created and provoked by another driver.

The next step to Road Rage is the actual act of Aggressive Driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines Aggressive Driving as operating a vehicle in a way that endangers or is likely to endanger people or property. Aggressive Driving in most states is not a criminal act, but falls under the guidelines of civil infractions.

There are many things that cause people to become aggressive drivers. It may be construction work on the roadway that is slowing them down or causing traffic back-up.

Many times it is simply the stress from other areas of their life, such as a loss of a job, marriage problems, concerns about their children’s behavior, or the death of a loved one.

They may have a predisposed negative attitude about traffic laws or police officers. They may see driving as a way to compete with others and a way to expand their ego. They may have the false belief that speeding saves a significant amount of time. They may have the type of personality that explodes over trivial things such as being honked at, someone taking too long to move when the traffic light changes to green, or even the loud music from another vehicle.

None of these things are worth getting angry over, but to a person who is already upset or under stress, any of these may be the “last straw”.

The final act is Road Rage. Road Rage is an extreme act of aggressive driving that involves a deliberate attempt to harm people or property. Road Rage usually involves a criminal act.

If you catch yourself starting to become more aggressive as you drive, there are some things you can do to help deal with the stress and frustration of driving.

  1. Keep a positive attitude;
  2. Get the proper amount of recommended sleep;
  3. Count to ten before reacting;
  4. Remember that others make mistakes while driving, but so do you;
  5. Take several deep breaths before acting out;
  6. Learn isometric exercises that can be used while driving;
  7. Listen to the proper type of music. Keeping in mind that music with a lot of beat will normally raise your blood pressure;
  8. Make sure you have ample time to get to your destination;
  9. Learn better time management techniques;
  10. Turn off the talk radio if you catch yourself becoming too involved in the discussion.
  11. Become a courteous driver.
happy driver

One of the best ways to prevent yourself from becoming involved in an aggressive driving or Road Rage incident is to do everything you can not to participate or provoke another driver. Remember, it takes two to play the game. Here are some ways to avoid aggressive drivers.

  1. Never drive when under extreme stress;
  2. Avoid eye contact with an aggressive driver;
  3. Pay attention to your driving;
  4. Move to another lane of travel;
  5. If you see an aggressive driver, stay away from them;
  6. Never use any type of hand gesture towards another driver;
  7. Never react to the mistakes of other drivers;
  8. Never respond to any provocation;
  9. Do not scream at other drivers;
  10. If necessary, turn off onto another road;
  11. Call the police if the situation gets out of control.

Never stop and confront another driver. If you feel you are being followed, never drive home. Go to a public place and call the police.





Question 1 Motorists who use cell phones while driving are 4 times more likely to get into crashes.
Question 2 The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that ___% of all traffic crashes in the United States are due to driver error.
Question 3 The American Medical Association has stated that all Humans need a minimum of __ hours of proper sleep per night in order to function at their peak productivity.