The D.E.P. Academy Driver Education Course


Rules Of The Road Page 1

Urban Driving

  • The urban driving environment (city) is typically more challenging to the less experienced driver because there are more situations to react to.  
  • Reduce your speed. This allows you more time to look ahead and scan for hazards, such as pedestrians, cars, pot-holes, and busses. Driving at a slower speed gives you the time you need to analyze and predict what may or may not happen, time to react to any hazards that might require quick reflexes, and make decisions to safely avoid hazardous situations.
  • Half of all traffic violations involve speeding, and most of those violations occur in urban areas.
  • In California there isn't a "minimum" speed law. There is, however, a law that requires you not to drive so slow that it is unsafe. The law states: "No person shall drive so slowly or stop on the roadway so as to impeded traffic or block the normal and reasonable movement of traffic."  You can actually receive a traffic ticket if you are stopped or driving too slowly.

There Are Specific Times When You Should Reduce Your Speed.

  • Near shopping centers, parking lots and downtown business areas.
  • When you see several cars ahead of you with their brake lights on.
  • When traffic is dense.
  • Whenever you drive on a bridge or through tunnels.
  • Whenever you're approaching a toll plaza.
  • Near schools and playgrounds.
  • Railroad crossing.
  • Blind intersections.
  • In residential areas.
  • In busy business districts.
  • In and around alleyways

Convictions for speeding in these special areas is based on proof that the driver was unsafe or negligent.

  • You can assume that the speed limit is 25 mph in any business or residential district unless posted otherwise.
  • When driving around or near a school, or school grounds, when children are present.
  • When driving around or near a "senior center" with a "senior" warning sign, the speed limit is always 25 mph, unless otherwise posted.
  • Sometimes lower speed limits are posted in the general vicinity of schools in addition to the school itself.  Specially marked crosswalks and five-sided signs warns that you are approaching or are in the presence of a school.

Looking Ahead In Traffic

  • Try to avoid making last minute decisions.
  • Look ahead for traffic hazards such as road construction, accidents and detours.
  • Leave enough distance to safely maneuver around hazards.
  • Look ahead for signal changes such as yellow lights and flashing crosswalk signs.
  • Looking ahead about 10 to 15 seconds is equivalent to one city block, which is the time needed to drive safely in urban areas.

Basic Right-Of-Way Laws

  • The right-of-way is something that must be given, not taken. You should neither insist on taking the right-of-way, nor insist that others take it when they are hesitant to do so.
  • If two vehicles enter an intersection from different directions at the same time, and the intersection is controlled by stop signs in all directions, or the signal light is not working, the driver on the right has the right-of-way.
  • If cars enter the intersection from opposite directions at the same time, and one car is turning left, the car turning left must yield to cars going straight or turning right.
  • Yield the right-of-way  to emergency vehicles by pulling to the right when possible.  If not possible to pull over, as in heavy traffic, pull as far to the right as traffic allows and stop your vehicle until the emergency vehicle has passed.
  • Right-of-way rules should be accompanied by common sense and courtesy.
  • When entering a "T" intersection, vehicles on the "through" road always has the right-of-way.

Covering Your Brake

  • You should reduce your speed rather than "ride the brake".  Covering the brake pedal to improve reaction time is recommended when:
  • You are passing parked cars, as they may pull out in front of you or open their door.
  • You see brake lights ahead (meaning that traffic is coming to a stop)
  • You are approaching signal lights. Look for traffic build up at the intersection and for flashing crosswalk lights (these indicate that the light is about to change).

Passing In The City

  • You must use extreme caution in passing over the center line in urban travel.
  • Do not pass in, or near, an intersection.

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