Defensive Driving in Vermont
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Defensive driving requires a laser-alert eye and a pessimistic attitude that perceives every vehicle, person and animal as an approaching accident. You must constantly assess the situation ahead and drive accordingly, with a plan of action.
Defensive Driving Tips
Deer and moose are prevalent throughout the Green Mountain state, including in urban areas. These four-legged beasts are most active between dusk and dawn. Slow down if you see a deer crossing sign. These signs are not randomly erected. They appear in places known for heavy wildlife traffic.
Vermont still maintains strong ties with its agrarian roots. Livestock and horses, especially on the back roads, are common. Slow down when approaching a cow or horse along the side of the road. Zipping by them at high speeds can scare the animals into unpredictable actions, putting you, the animal, and horseback rider at risk.
Driving in Snow
Winter driving conditions in Vermont can exist any time from October through April. When driving in snow, you should adhere to the following advice:
- Allow yourself more time. Speeding on snow-packed roads downgrades your vehicle to a moving threat to yourself and others.
- Keep your windows and windshield clear of ice and snow. When cleaning your windshield, don't just wipe away one thin stripe, so it feels like you're looking out a turret. Clean the entire windshield. And make sure your car's defroster works properly.
- Drive at a slower speed.
- Don't feel unstoppable if driving a four-wheel vehicle. More often than not four-wheel drive owners embrace a false sense of bravado when driving in snow, and ultimately end up reefed on the side of the road in a three-foot snowbank, looking dumbfounded.
Maintaining a Safe Cushion
Even if you're driving defensively, you still must have time to react to the drivers around you. Maintaining a two-second cushion with the vehicle ahead of you, under normal driving conditions, will serve as a good position to maintain. This way if the vehicle in front stops suddenly you'll have space and time to react properly.
You should increase your "safety cushion" to three or four seconds when driving in rain or snow, and when following motorcycles.
When driving on multi-lane highways, you should also maintain a cushion with the vehicles on your sides. If you have another vehicle riding alongside of you either speed up or slow down in order to create space.
You can only pass, obviously, when you are certain your car won't cause oncoming traffic to veer madly off the road. When you do pass, make sure to use proper turn signals, and that you do so in a manner that does not crowd the vehicle you're passing.
You should never pass under the following circumstances:
- When within 100 feet of an intersection, bridge, or tunnel.
- When your view is blocked by a hill or curve.
- When your lane is marked with a solid yellow line.
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