A child passenger restraint system is required for any child who is under the age of six and weighs 60 pounds or less. Either a seat belt or a child passenger restraint system may be used for each person who is age six or older or who weighs over 60 pounds.
Here are some additional tips for using a child safety seat:
- The back seat is generally the safest place in the car for all children 12 years of age or younger.
- Babies up to 20 lbs. and about age one should ride in a safety seat secured to the back seat facing the rear of the car. Make sure the vehicle’s seat belt is put through the correct slot in the safety seat. Incorrectly fastened safety seats defeat their purpose and can result in injury. NOTE: Babies should not be placed forward or backward in the front passenger seat if the vehicle has a passenger-side air bag.
- Toddlers over 20 lbs. and about age one or older should ride in the back seat buckled into an approved child safety seat.
RIDING SAFELY WITH AIR BAGS
Most people can take steps to eliminate or reduce risk without turning off air bags. The biggest risk is being too close to the air bag. An air bag needs about 10 inches of space to inflate. Ride at least 10 inches (measured from the center of the steering wheel to your breastbone) from the air bag cover if you can do this while maintaining full control of the vehicle. If you cannot safely sit 10 inches away from the air bag, contact your vehicle dealer or manufacturer for advice about additional ways of moving back from your air bag.
Passengers should also sit at least 10 inches away from the air bag.
UNATTENDED CHILDREN IN MOTOR VEHICLES
It is illegal to leave a child six years of age or younger unattended in a motor vehicle when:
- There are conditions that present a significant risk to the child’s health or safety. Example: leaving a child in a closed car on a very hot day.
- The vehicle’s engine is running, the keys are in the ignition, or both. Example: children can start or move the car causing injuries and/or deaths to themselves or others.
Exception: The child may be left under the supervision of a person 12 years of age or older.
The court may fine violators and require the person to attend a community education program. Also, the penalties for leaving an unattended child in a vehicle are more severe if the child is injured, requires emergency medical services, or dies.
MERGING, PASSING, and ENTERING TRAFFIC
Whenever you enter traffic, signal and be sure you have enough room to enter safely. You have to share space with traffic already on the road and must know how much space you need to:
- Merge with traffic.
- Cross or enter traffic.
- Pass other cars.
Space To Merge
Enter the freeway at or near the speed of traffic. (Remember that the maximum speed allowed is 65 mph on most freeways.) Do not stop before merging with freeway traffic unless absolutely necessary. Freeway traffic has the right of way.
Any time you merge with other traffic, you need a gap of four seconds. That will give both you and the car you merge in front of a two-second following distance.
- Don’t try to squeeze into a gap that is too small. Leave yourself a big enough space cushion.
- Watch for vehicles around you. Use your mirrors and turn signals. Turn your head to look quickly to the side before changing lanes. Leave three seconds of space between you and the vehicle ahead. Make sure you can stop safely if you must.
- If you have to cross several lanes, cross them one at a time. If you stop to wait until all lanes are clear, you will tie up traffic and may cause an accident.
Space To Cross Or Enter
Whenever you cross or enter traffic from a full stop, you will need a large enough gap (from cars approaching in either direction) to get up to the speed of other vehicles. You need a gap that is:
- About half a block on city streets.
- About a full block on the highway.
If you are crossing lanes or turning, make sure there are no cars or people blocking the path ahead or the path to the side. You don’t want to be caught in an intersection with traffic coming at you.
Even if you have the green light, don’t start across if there are cars blocking your way. It is against the law to enter an intersection unless there is space to get completely across it. You can receive a citation if you block other traffic.
Don’t start a turn just because an approaching car has a turn signal on. The driver may plan to turn just beyond you. The signal may have been left on from an earlier turn. This is particularly true of motorcycles. Their signal lights don’t always turn off by themselves. Wait until the other driver actually starts to turn before you continue.
Space To Exit
When you plan to exit the freeway, make sure to give yourself plenty of time. You should know the freeway exit you want as well as the one that comes before it. To exit safely, you should:
- Change lanes one at a time until you are in the proper lane to exit the freeway.
- Signal your intention to exitapproximately five seconds.
- Be sure you are at the proper speed for leaving the traffic lanenot too fast (so you won’t lose control) and not too slow (so the flow of traffic can still move freely).
Space To Pass
Avoid passing other vehicles, including motorcycles and bicycles, on two-lane roads. It is dangerous. Every time you pass, you increase your chances of having an accident. Ask yourself if the risk is worth the few minutes you will gain. Remember, whenever you pass another vehicle on a two-lane road you must enter a lane that belongs to oncoming cars.
At highway speeds of 50 to 55 mph, you need a 10 to 12 second gap in oncoming traffic to pass safely. You must judge whether or not you have enough room to pass whenever you approach:
- An oncoming car.
- A hill or a curve.
- An intersection.
- A road obstruction.
Be patient when passing a bicyclist. Slow down and pass only when it is safe. Do not squeeze the bicyclist off the road.
At 55 mph, you will travel over 800 feet in 10 to 12 seconds. So will an oncoming vehicle. That means you need over 1600 feet (or about one-third of a mile) to pass safely. It is hard to judge the speed of oncoming vehicles one-third of a mile away. They don’t seem to be coming as fast as they really are. A vehicle that is far enough away generally appears to be standing still. In fact, if you can really see it moving closer to you, it is probably too close for you to start to pass.
Hills Or Curves
To pass safely, you must be able to see at least one-third of a mile. Any time your view is blocked by a hill or a curve, you should assume that there is an oncoming car just out of sight. This means you should only pass if a hill or curve is one-third of a mile or more away.
You MUST NOT drive on the left side of a roadway when coming to a curve or the top of a hill where you can’t see far enough ahead to be sure it is safe to pass.
It is dangerous to pass another vehicle where someone is likely to enter or cross the road. Such places include crossroads, railroad crossings, and shopping center entrances. While you are passing, your view of people, cars, motorcycles, bicycles, or a train is blocked by the car you are passing. Also, a driver turning onto the road into the left lane won’t expect to find you in his lane. He or she may not even look your way.
Before you pass, look ahead for road conditions and traffic that may cause other cars to move over into your lane.
Space To Return
Always signal before passing. Don’t pull out to pass unless you know you have enough space to return. Before you return to the driving lane, be sure you aren’t dangerously close to the car you have just passed. One way to do this is to look for the car in your inside rear view mirror. When you can see both headlights, you have enough room to return to the driving lane. Don’t count on having enough time to pass several cars at once. Don’t count on other drivers making room for you.
On A One Lane Mountain Road
When two vehicles meet on a steep road where neither can pass, the vehicle facing downhill must back up until the vehicle going uphill can pass. (The driver going downhill has the greater amount of control when backing.)
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