Web Traffic School
Collision Traps


And now, back to the USA Driver Safety Course, presented by WebTrafficSchool.com. I'm your host, Louie Bumper.
It gets your attention, doesn't it? Or at least it should. As I'm sure you already know, a siren is used to warn you that an emergency vehicle is approaching. Keeping you from becoming an unfortunate collision statistic is what this next segment is all about.
We can't emphasize too strongly the importance of having a defensive driving strategy for every situation.


  • Roadway conditions
  • Control devices
  • Other traffic
To develop that strategy, we're constantly watching the road to monitor roadway conditions, control devices in and around the roadway, and other traffic on or near the roadway.
This helps us recognize potential danger, anticipate what might happen, decide what to do, then take the necessary action, enabling us to protect ourselves from the danger and control the situation.

Drivers allow themselves to be lured into collision traps when they don't have a strategy for safe driving.

Collision traps can be waiting at the front, in the rear, or on either side.

We get drawn into collision traps by not maintaining enough safe space around our car. Remember, safe space is that area we establish around our vehicle that moves along with us as we drive.


Sometimes we let ourselves get drawn into a collision trap in front of us by trying to avoid a problem behind us, such as a tailgater. The temptation here is to speed up and move away from the vehicle which is following too closely behind us.

How do we avoid a situation like this?
We do it by actually increasing our safe space to the front.
We do this by gradually reducing our speed by one mile an hour until we have doubled our 3-second following distance to 6 seconds. That gives us 3 seconds for our car and 3 seconds for the car behind us that's encroaching on our safe space. This give us room to maneuver in time to stop if something goes wrong up ahead.

Most tailgaters follow too closely because they want to go faster than the car they’re following. So when you slow down to increase your safe space, they usually take the first opportunity to go around you. Then you can re-establish your normal following distance.
By using this procedure, you have also eliminated the potential for a collision from the rear, as well as the front.


If you're stopped at an intersection and see or hear another car approaching fast from the rear, you can take two actions:
· If the way ahead is clear, try to pull forward to give the other car more room to stop--or at least reduce some of the impact.
· If a crash can't be avoided, brace yourself and release your brake an instant before being hit. Your car will move forward and reduce the impact.
A tailgating driver can also push you into a collision trap on either side. Unless you increase your safe space in front of you to four or six seconds, here's what could happen.

The tailgater was able to push you into a collision trap because you didn't maintain enough safe space to the front, rear, and side. But you weren't alone. The car you sideswiped got caught in the same trap.
By not observing the situation to his front and side, and by not maintaining enough safe space to the side, he suffered the consequences, too.

If this driver had been using a good defensive strategy, he would have had plenty of safe space in front, back, and on both sides. When the car to his right swerved into his lane, all he would have hit was open space, not the other car.
A defensive strategy puts a driver in better control of the situation. The driver would have been able to recognize the potential danger posed by the reckless driver in the next lane. He might have been able to predict either a rear-end collision by the tailgater or the sudden swerve by the car in front of the tailgater. He would have already decided on a way to avoid the scenario that was unfolding in front and to the side of him. Then he would have been ready to take action, distancing himself from danger and controlling the situation.
What would you say is your biggest driving challenge?

· "People who weave in and out of traffic"

· "Someone driving slowly in the fast lane"

· "Drivers that follow too closely"

· "When everybody's in a real hurry, and people don't let people in when they're merging"

· "Guys going through stop signs"

· "Cars that just leap out into the intersection"

· "Drivers who are just focused on getting from point A to point B, not concerned about anybody else"

· "People running red lights"
'You think you have problems on the road. I train people to survive some really tough situations.
I teach advanced tactical driving methods to diplomatic drivers, security guards, military, and law enforcement personnel. These are people that put their lives on the line everyday, and I teach them how to protect themselves and their clients. Their goals are the same as yours: to get from point A to point B safely.


  • Always be aware on what is going on around you
  • Always be prepared
  • Always have an out


You may not face a terrorist attack on a daily basis, but eventually you will face an emergency highway situation where a collision is eminent. It's not a question of if, but when. You've got to have a plan. You've got to know what to do before the situation arises.
How would you avoid a head-on collision? I couldn't say what I would really do in that situation. I'd probably honk my horn and try to get around it the best way I could. In a big way, you just rely on hope and instinct of the moment.
Driving is probably the most dangerous thing most of you will ever do on a daily basis. How you react in those one or two seconds determines whether you live or die. Here's how to increase your chances of survival in the deadliest traffic situation--a head-on collision.


  • Read
  • Right
  • Reduce
  • Ride
Read the road ahead. It's all about being prepared. Look on both sides of the road for things like potholes, pedestrians, bicyclists, and other hazards. Look ahead to the next hill or curb for drivers who may enter your lane. Check out the next intersection for impatient drivers waiting to move. That way, you can anticipate a potential head-on before it occurs.
The second R is to ride to the right. If you see an oncoming vehicle nearing the centerline, drive slightly to the right of your lane. The closer the other car comes to your vehicle, the further you must move to your right.

By the way, on a four-lane highway the safest lane is generally the lane to the right.
Next, reduce your speed. By reducing speed, we can lower the energy of the car, and therefore; increase our control. Flash your lights, honk your horn--anything to warn the oncoming driver. If he still keeps coming, be prepared to ride off the road. Drive, don't skid, off the road. If you skid, you lose control. So don't lock your brakes. Look where you want to go and follow the path of least resistance. Remember, it's natural to aim the car where you're looking.
Squeeze non-A.B.S. brakes. For A.B.S. brakes, keep heavy pressure on the pedal.

And if you have to hit something, obviously go for something soft or light, like bushes. If you're headed for something hard, like a tree, try to hit it at a glancing blow. Every inch off center reduces the impact and increases your chance of survival.
After that, you need to know how to drive back onto the road. Get off the gas and stay straight by looking down the road where you want to go. Don't hit the gas or the brake or jerk back onto the road. Just gradually ease the car back onto the hard surface. You might end up in the ditch, but it's better than hitting another car head-on.
What would you do to avoid an oncoming car? You would just get into their lane, the left lane, because they're in YOUR lane, right? WRONG!

If you drive to the left, the oncoming driver just may instinctively pull the car back into his lane. You don't want to go there. Remember the four R's; they just might save your life.
As traffic continues to increase, there are more and more aggressive drivers out there. You've got to stay cool and calm. Don't give them control over you. One of the best ways to do that is to increase following distance. If you're right on a bumper, and the guy slams on his brakes, where are you going to go? If you don't leave enough room, you're going to go right into his trunk! So give yourself space.


The three-second rule means that, when the car in front of you passes an object, you should not pass that same object until at least three seconds later. You can measure the correct length of time by counting out loud: "one-thousand-and-one, one-thousand-and-two, one-thousand-and-three."
Passing can be fatal. That's why it pays to first ask yourself: "Do I really have to do it?" Why put yourself at so much risk for nothing?

If you must pass, don't tailgate. The three-second rule still applies here. Look ahead and make sure you have enough time and distance to complete the pass. Look behind to make sure no one else is about to pass you. Use your turn signal.
Check your intended path by actually looking over your shoulder. Move into the passing lane and increase your speed--not over the limit, of course.

As you pass the other car, signal right. Check your mirror and look for pavement in front of the vehicle you have just passed. Then check your intended path by looking over your right shoulder and move right. That's it!
You've got to be aware of everyone around you, and always have an out. A lot of what we teach our classes is the same for everyone else. Be aware and drive defensively. Think ahead. Have a plan before the situation arises. It requires your total attention. You have to give yourself every advantage if you are to survive out there.
So get off the cell phone, turn off the palm pilot, and put away that laptop. Research shows that drivers who use them have slower reaction times and have difficulty maintaining their speed and lane position.

You've got to drive as though your life depends on it, because it does.


Recognizing potential hazards is relatively easy. They're everywhere. Anticipating the worst is also easy. You could be faced with the threat of a head-on collision if an oncoming car suddenly moved over onto your side of the roadway. Head-on collisions create the highest force of impact and should be avoided if at all possible.
When you encounter the threat of a head-on collision, you should slow down as much as possible without locking your brakes. This will reduce the force of impact and give the other driver more time to recover control of their vehicle. Communicate with your horn and headlights. This might alert a sleeping or inattentive driver. Begin to brake and move right. Steer right toward the shoulder; never steer to the left. Be prepared to drive completely off the roadway if necessary.
If you can't avoid a collision, try to sideswipe the oncoming vehicle rather than hit it head-on. This will reduce the force of impact and increase your chances for survival.


When you're faced with the threat of a side-impact collision, there are several options. You might brake or accelerate quickly, whichever seems more likely to prevent or lessen the force of impact. Communicate with the other driver by using your horn or headlights. Look for a possible escape route, possibly into another lane or off the roadway if there's room to maneuver. Or, brake firmly and turn your vehicle to the side to lessen the force of impact.


The decision to swerve to avoid an oncoming collision should be used as a last resort. This decision is not easy to make, as you must take into account various situations in the driving environment. If you decide to swerve, you must have an escape route in mind.

Grip the steering wheel tightly and turn sharply in the direction you want to swerve. In the same motion, counter steer to stabilize the vehicle. Return to your intended path of travel as quickly as you can safely do so.