Web Content Viewer


California Driver Handbook - Vehicle Positioning


California Driver Handbook - Vehicle Positioning

Following Distances

Suppose you are on a two-lane road with an oncoming vehicle approaching and a bicyclist ahead to your right. Instead of driving between the vehicle and the bicyclist, take one danger at a time. First, slow down and let the oncoming vehicle pass. Then, when it is safe, move to the left to allow plenty of room (at least 3 feet) to pass the bicyclist.

Persons Who Present Dangers to Drivers

Increase your following distance and allow a bigger space cushion for drivers who may be potentially dangerous. Persons who present dangers are:

  • Drivers who cannot see you because their view is blocked by buildings, trees, or other cars.
  • Drivers backing out of driveways or parking spaces.
  • Drivers who pass you when there is a curve or oncoming vehicle(s) ahead.
  • Drivers about to be forced into your lane to avoid a vehicle, pedestrian, bicyclist, obstruction, or because of fewer lanes ahead.
  • Pedestrians with umbrellas in front of their faces or hats pulled down over their eyes.
  • Distracted people, such as:
    • Delivery persons.
    • Construction workers.
    • Distracted pedestrians, such as those talking or texting on their electronic wireless communications device.
    • Children, who often run into the street without looking.
    • Drivers talking or texting on their electronic wireless communications device or speaking to their passengers.
    • Drivers taking care of children, eating, or looking at maps while driving.
  • Confused people, such as:
    • Tourists, often at complicated intersections.
    • Drivers who are looking for a house number or slow down for no apparent reason.

Splitting the Difference

Sometimes there will be dangers on both sides of the road at the same time. For example, there will be parked cars to the right and oncoming cars to the left. In this case, the best thing to do is “split the difference.” Steer a middle course between the oncoming cars and the parked cars.

If one danger is greater than the other, give the most room to the most dangerous situation. Suppose there are oncoming cars on your left side and a child on a bike on your right side. The child is more likely to make a sudden move. Therefore, slow down and, if safe, use as much of your lane to the left as possible until you pass the child.


previous page | table of contents | next page


Complementary Content