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Lesson 3

Part 4



Avoiding Accidents through Safe Driving Decisions



The number one traffic safety goal is to reduce accidents on Pennsylvania’s streets and highways. You can train yourself to make safe driving decisions whenever you face a possible traffic conflict. It is a fact that drivers with more violations are more likely to have an accident than drivers with fewer violations.


The possibility of conflict with other vehicles is a fact of driving. This is true in the city, the suburbs, and even on country roads. The chances of an accident go up as the amount of traffic increases.


The chances of an accident also go up at intersections, and at any other location where traffic from two or more directions passes through the same point on the road. These locations include any point where one “stream” of traffic merges with another, for example, where a ramp enters a highway or where two lanes of traffic narrows to only one lane.


Knowing situations where the likelihood of an accident increases is one big part of protecting yourself while driving. But that is not enough. What happens in those high-risk situations depends upon the decisions you make from moment to moment behind the wheel. Every driver is in control of the situation to some degree. Every accident you become involved in, even if you’re not “at fault,” is to some degree the result of your driving decisions. Even in the most dangerous situations, there is almost always a safe driving decision that allows you to avoid an accident.


But that is still not enough. You must be able to make the right decisions at the right time. There is a “critical decision point” in every accident situation. After this point you will be out of luck no mater how you react. So, to “drive smart” you really have to be able to do these three things:


    1. Recognize situations where the chances of traffic conflicts, and therefore accidents, are high.
    2. See the chances for conflicts far enough ahead of time so that you are at least partially in control of what happens.
    3. Make safe driving decisions that will lower the chance of conflict between you and other drivers.



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