Our Summer intern recently completed drivers ed. We had her write up some of the basics she learned to serve as a refresher for those of us who haven’t had a driver’s ed class in many years.
Colorado’s Express Consent Law
When holding a license in Colorado there are certain laws that we agree to. Some of these laws are the express consent law and the graduated licensing law.
The express consent law means that if someone gets pulled over because someone thought they were driving impaired then, by holding a Colorado license, they agree to do whatever on-site testing is asked of them.
Teenager Driving Restrictions
When a 16-year-old gets their license here in Colorado, they have to pass through a series of steps before they have no restrictions on their license. For the first six months of driving, they can only take immediate family members and passengers over 21 with them in the car.
After those six months, they can take one person who is under 21 with them as well. When they turn 17 or have been driving for a year, they can take as many people as can fit safely in their car.
During all of this though, they are not allowed to use their cell phones while driving until they turn 18.
Traffic signs are a part of everyday life, they tell cars to stop, go, yield, be careful, go certain speeds, etc. There are eight major colors of signs; red, orange, yellow, green, blue, black, white, and brown.
Each color means something different. Red means stop. Yellow means warning, orange means construction or detour, green means guide, blue means motorist service, black or white mean regulatory, and brown means public recreation or cultural interest.
There are eight major shapes of signs that mean something different. Diamond means warning, pennant means no passing zone, triangle means yield, pentagon means school zone, horizontal rectangle means directional help, vertical rectangle means regulatory, round means railroad crossing, and octagon means stop. There are signs on the road itself as well. Two of the most common ones are red reflective markers, which say if a car is going the wrong way; or lines telling cars when they can and can’t turn, pass, etc.
Traffic lights are as big a part of everyday lives as traffic signs. They control the flow of traffic in a much more regulated manner.
Traffic lights are something even most toddlers know, red means stop, yellow means start stopping, and green means go. Flashing yellow or red lights aren’t something met very often, but they do exist.
If the traffic light is flashing yellow, treat it as if it were a yield sign. If the traffic signal is flashing red, treat it as if it were a stop sign.
Police officers control stoplights from time to time for whatever reason. In those situations, always defer to the police officer, and not the traffic light.
While driving some people will grab the steering wheel with only one hand, feet, knees, etc. This is not safe and should never be done. When steering always grip the steering wheel at nine and three o’clock. This because when you grab it anywhere else if an airbag goes off you could get seriously injured. The same goes for your passengers.
If they put their feet up on the dashboard and an airbag goes off their feet won’t fly up, they’ll fly out, and it won’t be pretty. Here is a link to a video showing exactly what happens when someone has their feet up on the dashboard and the airbags go off.
Emotions and Driving
Emotions can interfere with the ability to think, reason, and make wise decisions. The most powerful emotion that can impact driving is anger. When driving angry, it is easy for a person to start aggressive driving, which is driving without regards for others safety.
Aggressive driving can lead to road rage, which is driving with the intent to harm others. Anger is dangerous while driving, but so is other emotions such as; sorrow, depression, anxiety, excitement, happiness, and panic.
All of these emotions affect someone driving in one way or another; it could make them careless, or aggressive. All of these emotions can be dangerous when the person driving is experiencing them. Don’t have emotionally charged conversations while driving or riding in a car.
Pedestrians are the most vulnerable roadway users, especially children and seniors.
When pedestrians are in a hurry, they may cross the street at any time, causing unsuspecting drivers to hit them. When driving in areas where a lot of pedestrians are, always use extra caution to avoid having to swerve or hitting a pedestrian.
As a pedestrian, there are five things to watch out for: visibility; walking in the right places; using crosswalks; watching for cars; and, don’t walk when it isn’t safe. If a pedestrian makes themselves visible, there is much less of a chance for a collision, because drivers can see them better and make the necessary adjustments.
Pedestrians walking on the sidewalk, and not the road, reduce the chances of a crash. When a pedestrian uses a crosswalk to cross the street, they are crossing in a place where cars are already using caution. When pedestrians watch for cars, they can cross a street when there are no cars instead of walking straight into a car.
Finally, if pedestrians walk when it isn’t safe, at night with no lights, then the chance for a crash goes way up. Be smart around pedestrians, and be smart as a pedestrian.
When driving a car, it is almost inevitable that something will go wrong at least once in a while.
A lot of these issues can be avoided by proper maintenance and care of the car, but that doesn’t guarantee that there will be no issues.
In case of any sort of car trouble, do not panic. Safely bring the car to a stop and assess the situation. Once the car is stopped in a safe location, get whatever help you need.
Permit and License Rules
In the state of Colorado, a permit is valid for three years. To get a permit, the permit holder must pass drivers education and the permit test. After someone gets their permit, they need to do 50 hours of practice driving before they get their license.
Ten of those hours need to be at night, and six of the hours need to be behind the wheel training with an instructor.
For all 50 hours, a licensed adult over the age of 21 needs to be in the passenger’s seat. If a permit holder finishes their 50 hours in six months, they would still need to wait another six months before getting their license if they are under the age of 18.
To get a permit, if under the age of 18, you must show an Affidavit of Liability and Guardianship to get a permit. If someone fails the permit test the first time, they can take it again the same day, but if they fail four times then they must retake the driver’s education class.
When you receive your license in Colorado, you must be over the age of 16, have had your permit for a year or more, and completed the 50 hours of permit driving. If you are 18 or older then, you would only need to pass the permit test, and then take and pass the license test.