Driver's Manual Updates - September 2013
Several sections in the Connecticut Driver's Manual have been revised in September 2013.
While the printed version of the Manual is being revised, the information below has been inserted into the Manual to reflect recent changes in state law.
This information can be covered in a learner's permit test question beginning October 1, 2013.
Here are the sections that have been updated:
Hand-held cell phones or mobile electronic devices may not be used while operating a motor vehicle on any public highway. State law also prohibits using these devices when a vehicle is temporarily stopped because of traffic, road conditions or a traffic control sign or signal. You may use your cell phone or mobile electronic devices if parked safely on the side or shoulder of a highway. Drivers are permitted only to use hands-free mobile telephone accessories. However, drivers who are 16 or 17 years of age are not permitted to use any type of cell phone or mobile electronic device, including a hands-free device. A “mobile electronic device” includes a laptop computer, personal digital assistant or paging or text-messaging device.
The exceptions to this requirement, where a cell phone or mobile electronic device may be used, by a driver of any age, is an emergency situation, when contacting an emergency response operator, a hospital, physician’s office, health clinic, ambulance company or fire or police department. In addition, drivers who are 18 years of age and older who are peace officers, firefighters, or ambulance drivers may use hand-held cell phones and electronic devices.
Any 16- or 17-year old found violating Connecticut’s cell phone law will be charged with a moving violation. If an operator is under the age of 18, a conviction for violating the cell phone law will result in a license suspension. If an operator is under age 18, it is also a moving violation, which is counted when determining if attendance is required in the operator retraining program.
A work zone is any type of roadwork that may delay traffic conditions. Many work zones involve lane closures and detours. Moving equipment such as sweepers, line-painting trucks, mowing equipment and heavy machinery are common in work zones. Highway work zones are set up according to the type of road and the work to be done on the road. The work zone can be long or short term and can exist at anytime of the year, but most commonly in the summer.
Work zones on U.S. highways have become increasingly dangerous places for both workers and drivers. Approximately 40,000 people per year are injured as a result of motor vehicle crashes in work zones. There are a large number of work zones in place across America, therefore, highway agencies are working on not only improving devices used in work zones, but to change the behavior of drivers so crashes can be prevented.
When approaching a work zone watch for materials such as cones, barrels, signs, large vehicles, or workers in bright colored vests to warn you and direct you where to go. All temporary signs in work zones have an orange background and black letters or symbols. These signs will be found on the right side of the road, or on both left and right sides when the roadway is a divided highway. The signs tell you what to do and how soon you will encounter the work zone.
Most work zones also have signs alerting you to reductions in the speed limit through the work zone. These speed reductions are necessary for the safety of the workers and motorists. The reduced speed limits are clearly posted within the work zone and if there are no reduced speed limit signs, you should obey the normal posted speed limit.
In Connecticut, anyone convicted of speeding, disobeying traffic control devices, using an improper lane or endangering a highway worker within a work zone could face fines of up to $1,000, can be accessed points against his or her driver’s license and may be required to complete the driver retraining program. In addition, distracted driving fines are doubled for anyone convicted of illegally using a hand-held cellphone or mobile electronic device while driving in a work zone.
Signing, traffic control devices, roadway markings, flaggers and law enforcement officers are used to protect highway workers and to direct drivers safely through work zones or along marked detours. As a driver, you should learn and abide by the following safety tips for driving in work zones:
- Slow down, obey posted speed limits and be alert to conditions around you. Workers could be present.
- Follow the instructions on the work zone warning signs and those given by flaggers.
- Do not become oblivious to work zone signs when the work is long term or widespread.
- Be aware that traffic patterns in work zones can change daily including lane shifts or alternating lane closures.
- Use extreme caution when driving through a work zone at night whether workers are present or not.
- Watch the traffic around you and be prepared to react to what the traffic is doing. Check for tail and brake lights of vehicles ahead of you for indications of what is happening on the road ahead. Be ready to respond quickly.
- Merge as soon as possible. Motorists can help maintain traffic flow and posted speeds by moving to the appropriate lane at first notice of an approaching work zone.
- Adjust your lane position away from the side where workers and equipment are located when possible.
- Keep a safe distance between your vehicle and traffic barriers, trucks, construction equipment and workers. Increase your following distance. Do not tailgate.
- Some work zones, such as line painting, road patching and mowing are mobile. Just because you do not see the workers immediately after you see the warning sign does not mean they are not out there. Observe the posted signs until you see the one that says “End Road Work.”
- Concentrate when driving through work zones. Pay attention to your surroundings and do not become distracted from cell phones, changing the radio station or applying make-up.
- When you can, avoid work zones altogether by using alternate routes.
- Expect delays, plan for them and leave early to reach your destination on time.
- Calm down. Work zones are not there to inconvenience you. They are there to improve the roads for everyone.
A distraction is anything that takes your attention away from driving. Driver distractions may occur anytime and anywhere. Distracted driving can cause collisions, resulting in injury, death or property damage. Costs associated with such crashes, including those resulting from criminal and civil lawsuits can be extremely high. Taking your eyes off the road or hands off the steering wheel presents obvious driving risks. Mental activities that take your mind away from driving are just as dangerous. Your eyes can gaze at objects but fail to see them because your mind is thinking of something else.
Possible distractions that could occur inside a moving vehicle:
- Dialing numbers or talking on a cell phone
- Adjusting radio, compact disc or climate controls
- Using global positioning systems (GPS) or navigation systems
- Using digital video disc (DVD) players
- Using the dashboard control panel
- Grooming (shaving, applying makeup, combing hair, etc.)
- Talking to passengers
- Attending to children or pets in the vehicle
- Eating, drinking or smoking
- Reading maps or other literature
- Picking up something that fell
Possible distractions that could occur outside a moving vehicle:
- Outside traffic/vehicle
- Police pulling someone over
- People/objects in roadway
- Crash scene
- Road construction
- Reading billboards or other road advertisements
There are things you can do to keep from getting distracted:
- Avoid arguments and stressful or emotional conversations with passengers that may distract your attention from the road.
- Instead of eating while driving, leave a little early to allow yourself time to stop to eat.
- Be sure children are properly and safely buckled up and give them books, toys or games to occupy their time.
- Properly secure pets in a pet carrier or portable kennel before moving your vehicle.
- Adjust vehicle controls before you begin your trip, take advantage of normal stops to adjust controls or ask your passenger to adjust controls.
- Do not look at something in the distance. Those things are never more important than concentrating on your immediate path of travel.
- Review maps and plan your route before you begin driving. If you need to look at a map while driving stop in a safe parking area.
- Do not talk with friends in other vehicles or wear headphones to listen to music. These can be deadly when combined with driving.
- Stay focused, pay attention, and expect the unexpected.
You also need to be able to recognize other drivers who are distracted. Not recognizing other distracted drivers can prevent you from perceiving or reacting correctly in time to prevent a crash. Watch for:
- Vehicles that may drift over the lane divider lines or within their own lane
- Vehicles traveling at inconsistent speeds
- Drivers who are busy with objects, such as maps, food, cigarettes or cell phones
- Drivers who appear to be involved in arguments with other passengers
- Drivers of slow moving or commercial vehicles
Give a distracted driver plenty of room and maintain a safe following distance of 3 to 4 seconds. Be very careful when passing a driver who seems to be distracted. The other driver may not be aware of your presence, and he/she may drift in front of you.
You must maintain your attention to the driving task. You are completely and solely responsible for operating your vehicle in a safe manner. This includes the responsibility for controlling everything that occurs within the vehicle as well. If you are distracted and you experience a crash, the responsibility falls on you, not the distraction.
Fatigue is physical or mental tiredness that can be caused by physical or mental strain, repetitive tasks, illness or lack of sleep. Just like alcohol and drugs, it impairs your vision and judgment. Fatigue causes errors related to speed and distance, increases your risk of being in a crash and causes you to take more time to make decisions, which can make you more irritable and make you get upset more easily. When you are fatigued, you could fall asleep behind the wheel and crash, injuring or killing yourself or others.
While anyone who drives tired is taking a risk, studies show that the groups described below are regularly sleep-deprived and are at special risk for having a fatigue related crash:
- Young Adults – People 16 to 24 years old often need more sleep than an average adult. Many young adults have died due to drowsy driving. It is a real threat that you should take seriously.
- People with Undiagnosed or Untreated Sleep Disorders – People with untreated obstructive sleep apnea are 7 times more likely to fall asleep at the wheel. Sleep apnea is a serious, potentially life-threatening condition that often goes unrecognized and undiagnosed.
- Shift Workers and People Working Long Hours – A person's biological clock is naturally tuned to sleep during the night. Working the night shift increases your risk of falling asleep at the wheel by nearly 6 times; rotating-shift workers and people working more than 60 hours a week need to be particularly careful (source: AAA Foundation Study – Why Do People have Drowsy Driving Crashes).
Before a Trip Do the Following:
- Get adequate sleep—most adults need 7 to 9 hours to maintain proper alertness during the day
- Schedule proper breaks—about every 100 miles or 2 hours during long trips
- Arrange for a travel companion—someone to talk with and share the driving
- Avoid alcohol and sedating medications—check your labels or ask your doctor
Warning Signs of Fatigue:
- You turn up the radio or roll down the window to wake yourself up
- You have trouble focusing, keeping your eyes open or your head up
- You yawn or rub your eyes repeatedly
- You drift from your lane, tailgate or miss signs or exits
- You daydream or have wandering thoughts
- You feel restless, irritable or aggressive
- You have Impaired reaction time and judgment
- You have decreased performance, alertness and motivation
Ways to Prevent a Fatigue-Related Crash While Driving:
- Watch for the warning signs of fatigue.
- Stop driving—pull off at the next exit, rest area or find a place to sleep for the night.
- Take a nap—find a safe parking area to take a 15 to 20 minute nap.
- Consume caffeine—the equivalent of 2 cups of coffee can increase alertness for several hours. Avoid drinking too much caffeine and keep in mind that it will wear off. Do not rely on caffeine to prevent fatigue.
- Try consuming caffeine before taking a short nap to get the benefits of both.
- Driving at night – Try not to drive late at night between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m.
- The best way to prevent fatigue is sleep.
Fatigue-related crashes tend to be single-vehicle crashes in which a car or truck leaves the roadway and then turns over or hits a fixed object. These crashes are due to driver fatigue, drowsiness or inattention. Rumble strips help prevent fatigue-related crashes. They consist of raised or grooved patterns installed in the pavement of shoulders or directly in travel lanes. When a vehicle's tires pass over them, you are alerted by a sudden and loud rumbling sound followed by a loud vibration of the vehicle. If you run over a shoulder rumble strip, pull off the road at a safe place immediately and check your alertness level.
Driving is a complex skill. Many health problems – a bad cold, infection or virus can affect your driving. Even little problems like a stiff neck, a cough or a sore leg can affect your driving. If you are not feeling well and need to go somewhere, let someone else drive.
There are many health conditions that can affect your driving. Many over-the-counter and prescription medications can affect your driving. Check with your doctor if you feel you may have a condition that could prevent you from driving safely.
Emotions can have a great effect on your driving safely. They can interfere with your ability to think, can create mental distractions, increase risk taking, create a lack of attention, and can interrupt the ability to process information. You may not be able to drive well if you are overly worried, excited, afraid, angry or depressed.
There are ways of dealing with your emotions:
- If you are angry or excited, give yourself time to cool off. If necessary take a short walk or nap, but stay off of the road until you have calmed down.
- If you are worried, down or are upset about something, try to keep your mind on your driving. Some drivers find that listening to the radio helps, as long as it is not distracting from safe driving.
- If you are impatient, give yourself extra time for your driving trip. Leave a few minutes early. If you have plenty of time, you may tend not to speed or do other things that can get you a traffic ticket or cause a crash. For example, do not drive faster than the flow of traffic. Darting in and around other traffic can be fatal.
- Have someone else drive.