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UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
BUREAU OF PUBLIC ROADS
Highway Economist, Division of Highway Transport.
Bureau of Public Roads
THE automobile is a convenience, an
economic necessity, and a means of recreation for
millions, but, it is a highly dangerous machine when
improperly handled. We cannot get along without it.
Neither can we, as a civilized people, permit the con-
tinuing slaughter of 36,000 persons every year in
automobile accidents. We must learn to drive safely.
Highway and traffic engineers of the Federal, State,
and local governments are doing everything in their
power to make highways safe. Automobile manu-
facturers have designed their vehicles so well that
mechanical failure is seldom a cause of accident. Re-
sponsibility for almost every motor-vehicle accident
can be traced directly to the motor-vehicle driver, and
it is to him that this message is addressed. If you are
a driver, this is an appeal to you to drive with consider-
ation for your neighbor as well as for yourself, and it
gives a word of advice as to safe driving methods.
Are you a safe driver? Whether or not you have
ever had an accident, are your habits likely to cause
one? The locomotive engineer must undergo a long
apprenticeship and be subjected to frequent physical
examinations. The aviator must pass strict tests.
Are you as well fitted for your job as these men are for
theirs? Can you keep an even temper, or do you
become irritated? Do you get "rattled"? Are you
able to control hat occasional impulse to act reck-
lessly? Is your mind always on your driving? Do
you act quickly and reliably in emergencies? Do you
know what the law requires of you in every situation?
Judge yourself critically, recognize your weaknesses,
and take all necessary precautions because of them.
Your responsibility for safety begins before you move
out of your garage. Both you and your car must be
properly equipped and ready for the road.
A modern automobile leaves the factory in safe con-
dition. With proper eare and adjustment, it can be
kept so. Failure of steering gear or brakes can be
avoided easily by periodic inspection and adjustment.
The discarding of worn tires will largely prevent blow-
outs and greatly reduce skidding. Your headlights
must not only illuminate your course at night, but they
must also be so adjusted that they will not throw a
blinding light into the eyes of other drivers. If an
accident happens because of the failure of any part of
your car's equipment, the fault lies in your neglect in
99 cases in every 100.
Speed is the teA t single cause of
mgnways and cause many accidents. They can be
As for yourself, before you venture upon the public
highway, be sure that you know how to control your
car and that you are familiar with the general rules of
the road and with all local regulations. These are
usually available in printed form and may be obtained
from police, traffic, or motor-vehicle officials.
General Rules of the Road
The common rules of the road for motor-vehicle
(1) Drive to the right when meeting vehicles or where
approaching vehicles may be hidden from view.
(2) Drive to the left when passing vehicles from
(3) Do not pass a vehicle near the crest of a hill or on a
curve where there is the remotest chance that
you will unexpectedly find your way blocked by
(4) Do not reduce speed suddenly or change direction
(5) Always keep your car under control. A car out of
control is like a runaway horse.
(6) Keep a safe, clear stopping distance ahead of you.
If you have room to stop, you will not need to
hit anything. This is perhaps the most import-
ant rule of all. It means that you must not
follow the car ahead too closely, lest it stop
suddenly. You must proceed at a safe speed
and on your own side of the road when approach-
ing hilltops, curves, or intersections at which
the road may not be clear ahead of you. At
night you must drive so that you can stop within
the clearly illuminated distance ahead of you,
remembering that dark objects are less visible
than light-colored ones. You must cut down
your speed when the road is slippery, because
you cannot stop quickly.
If all drivers scrupulously observed these common
and general rules, there would be need for few other
operating regulations, and those only to provide for
unusual conditions of traffic.
Special Traffic Rules
Because of the high speed at which motor vehicles are
driven, and the differing amounts and types of traffic on
various roads and streets, special rules and regulations
are necessary to meet local requirements.
Traffic and highway engineers have devised a system of
signs and signals to guide your action where these special
rules are in force or where special care must be taken.
A red traffic signal means "STOP!" A yellow signal .aSS.....
"CAUTION." A green signal permits you to proceel-7v-7 :.
you can do so safely.
If a STOP sign is posted where a side road enters a main highBi
STOP! And do not proceed until you are sure it is safe to do
The driver on the main road expects you to stop, and if you auin
him by ignoring the sign you are likely to cause an accident
Other Aids to Safe Driving W i
Signs are posted on the roadside to tell you that you are coming to a
place where special care is required, such as a railroad track, a Mbi,
or a curve. Obey them! And proceed accordingly with due caution.
Other signs give you information regarding the nearness of schools,
hospitals, and various places where vehicles or pedestrians are lily "1
to congregate. Pass such places carefully.
Always take it for granted that the other fellow is thoughtlem or
irresponsible, and that he is likely at any time to do something uex-
pected. Your care can prevent many an accident that would other-
wise result from his heedlessness.
Pedestrians are particularly apt to blunder into your path, oft ,
because of advanced age, infirmity, or the inexperience of childhood.
Be alert and considerate, remembering that you yourself are ap eda
trian much of the time. Always drive slowly when you see childn
playing near the roadway.
The most important single cause of accidents is speed-too much
speed in the wrong place. To save a few minutes, no one is ju
in risking death or a lifetime
of disabling injuries. The
law may set a speed limit,
limit must be judged by you
alone. A car traveling .
mi les per hour is mvi a
fast as if it had falle' .
in g-and if it hits aometh
t solid the effect is justtasu
ELetL .Remember, too, thatyoe .
--_ stop in about 75 feet whb a
At 40 miles per hour you are moving as fast you are driving at 30 mis -;
as if you had fallen from tp perhour, butittakes225ut
of a four-story building. r hour, bu it t
n. which tostop from 60i fI
per hour. At a mile-a-minute speed you are moving 88 feet in a inecoued,
which means that in an emergency you will travel 50 feet or. meI
before you can even push the brake pedal down. If you will alwig
drive so that you can control your vehicle in any emergency, it ....
probable that there will not be an emergency.
If you drive your car with due care, not as if you were afraid
but with a healthy respect for its dangerous-possibilities, you .i ..,,
join the great class of safe drivers whose accident-free record is St:
merely a matter of luck. The safe drivers live longest and what Es J
more important to the public they also let others live.
U. S. GOVRNsNEfT PRIRTIE Omlll :;"
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
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