Safe Driving Tips

52 Weeks of Traffic Safety Tips

Traffic safety tips are based on the “Rules of the Road” found in the Tennessee Law TCA or safety practices described in the Tennessee Drivers Manual or other opinions of safety experts.


Tip #1 A yellow light is not an invitation to speed up.
A yellow light means STOP. You’re only allowed to drive through a yellow light if you are already in the intersection or so close to the intersection that stopping would be hazardous. The yellow light is not an indication for a driver to speed up in an attempt to beat the red light. Go for the brakes, not the accelerator.

Tennessee Law TCA – 55-8-110


Tip #2 What Bus?!!
Drivers must stop their vehicle for school and/or church buses that are stopped for the purpose of loading or unloading passengers. Vehicles traveling in both directions must come to a complete stop unless the bus is stopped on a roadway divided by a barrier, in which case, only vehicles traveling in the same direction as the bus are required to stop. Vehicles traveling on the other side of the barrier may proceed when it is safe.
Caution: The areas of Stone Drive, Ft. Henry Drive and Wilcox Dr., where the center turn lane is present, is not considered a roadway divided by a barrier. Vehicles traveling on these roads must stop in both directions when a school bus is stopped.

Tennessee Law TCA – 55-8-151


Tip #3 Right on red? Be Careful!
After coming to a complete stop and yielding to oncoming traffic, it is legal to make a right turn at a red light unless the intersection is otherwise posted. Use caution and make sure that any right turn is safe and legal. Observe any posted signs at intersections.

Tennessee Law TCA – 55-8-110


Tip #4 Buckle-up for Safety!
Local statistics show a large percentage of fatal collisions involve an unrestrained occupant.

Tennessee Law TCA – 55-9-603


Tip #5 Driving While Talking
It is best not to talk on a mobile or cellular phone while attempting to drive. Drivers should pull their vehicle off the roadway into a safe and legal parking area before using the phone. If simultaneous driving and phone use are required, drivers should utilize a hands-free system. When driving, your attention should be on the road ahead, not on distracting phone conversations.

TCA – 55-10-205


Tip #6 Don’t Drink and Drive!
Never drive a vehicle while under the influence of intoxicants such as alcohol or prescription medication that warns against driving, operating machinery, etc. First offense DUI fine is $350.00 up to $1500.00 plus Court cost, loss of license for one year, probation for one year, DUI School. Party smart, use a designated driver, or call a taxi or friend.

Tennessee Law TCA – 55-10-401


Tip #7 Take the time to arrive safely!!
During the winter months, ice, frost and snow may form on your windshield overnight. Take the time to remove ALL of the ice, frost and snow from all of your windows. Do not scrape just a small area; clean the entire windshield and windows so you can see all areas of the roadway.

Tennessee Law TCA – 55-10-205


Tip #8 “Road Closed” means you too.
Do not drive on a road that has been closed. Roads are typically closed due to hazardous conditions, construction, or safety concerns. Failure to comply with posted “Road Closed” signs could result in jail time, loss of driving privileges, and/or a large fine.

Tennessee Law TCA – 39-17-108


Tip #9 Drive Right.
While driving on a multi-lane roadway, drivers must use the right lane to travel in unless passing slower vehicles, turning left, or yielding to traffic conditions or emergencies.

Tennessee Law TCA – 55-8-115


Tip #10 Center Lanes Turns Only.
Center turn lanes are to be used only for turning vehicles. This lane is not designed for passing, nor shall a vehicle enter the turn lane more than a safe distance from the intended turning point.

Tennessee Law TCA – 55-8-140


Tip#11 I nclement weather C reates E mergencies
Be aware of weather conditions and slow down well in advance of stopping point when driving on ice or packed snow. During thawing and freezing weather, be alert for slippery areas on bridges and sheltered areas. (Tennessee State Driver’s Manual) Four-wheel drive vehicles have no braking advantages.


Tip#12 Don’t drive blind.
The best advice for driving in fog is “DON’T”. If you must drive in fog, reduce your speed and drive with lights on low beam. (Tennessee State Driver’s Manual) The white fog line on the right side of the road can be used for a guide, however, use caution!!


Tip#13 If you don’t see it, you can’t miss it.
The basic rule for safe night driving is to never outrun your headlights. Stopping distance should always be less than your sight distance. (Tennessee State Driver’s Manual) Traveling at 40 miles per hour, it takes approximately 70 feet to come to a stop. State Law mandates that your headlights be adjusted so that objects are visible 500 feet in front of your vehicle.

Tennessee Law TCA – 55-9-401


Tip#14 STOP SIGNS do not mean S light T ap O n P edal
When you come to a STOP sign, come to a complete stop and look both ways before proceeding. Don’t assume nothing is coming.

Tennessee Law TCA – 55-8-109


Tip#15 Wait for the Sign.
Speed limits begin where the sign is located. If you see a sign showing a faster speed, wait until you’re at the sign before speeding up.

Tennessee Law TCA – 55-8-152


Tip#16 Move away from Emergency and Service Vehicles.
Tennessee State Law requires a driver, when traffic conditions allow, to merge their vehicle into the left lane of traffic on multiple lane roads when workers, such as emergency personnel (i.e. Police, Fire, EMS), construction workers, tow trucks, and maintenance vehicles, are present at the right side of the road. If unable to merge to the left, or if you are on a two-lane road, slow down.

Tennessee Law TCA – 55-8-132


Tip#17 Show your pet you care.
Do not drive with an unrestrained pet in your vehicle. An animal’s behavior is sometimes unpredictable and could cause distractions to drivers. Unrestrained pets could be launched during an accident causing injury to the occupants and the pet. A pet placed in the lap of an occupant could cause death to the occupant or pet if and when an airbag is deployed. Don’t let pets interfere with the driver.


Tip#18 It may be you if you see blue.
When a police officer attempts to stop your vehicle:
· Immediately slow your vehicle and pull to the ride side of the roadway and come to a complete stop.
· Stay in your vehicle unless the officer asks you to get out.
· Roll down the driver side window and place both hands back on the steering wheel.
· Do not make any sudden or unexpected movements.
· Listen for instructions from the officer(s).
· Do not become argumentative with the officer. If you feel you have been unjustly stopped or accused, argue your case before the court and not on the side of the road.


Tip#19 Be Prepared.
Always keep a first-aid kit and an emergency travel kit in your vehicle. A well-prepared driver and a well-equipped vehicle could bridge the gap between notification and arrival of emergency workers on the scene. Supplies should include a first aid kit, blanket, fire extinguisher, etc.


Tip#20 There is safety in numbers.
Whenever possible, travel with a companion. Keep a cell phone in the vehicle and know the area you are traveling in. Keep your doors locked at all times and never pick-up or stop for a stranger. If you must travel alone, file a “travel plan” with friends or relatives, especially for long trips.


Tip#21 Being Followed? Come to us.
If you believe you are being followed in your vehicle:
· Do not stop or pull over.
· Immediately call 911 if you have a cell phone available. Follow the dispatcher’s instructions.
· Do not drive home.
· If possible, drive directly to the local police station.
· If you do not have a cell phone, start blowing your horn to draw attention to yourself.
· If you see a police officer(s), stop and ask for assistance.
If you must stop without police assistance, find a well-lit and very populated business to stop at.


Tip#22 Insurance is Mandatory
State law now requires proof of vehicle insurance to be carried and displayed upon request of a police officer. Failure to provide proof of insurance could result in a $100 fine and the suspension of your Tennessee driving privileges for up to one year.

Tennessee Law TCA – 55-12-139


Tip#23 Make use of turn signals
State law requires the use of a turn signal for every turn. It is also required for any lane change where the flow of traffic could be affected. Turn signals warn other motorists of your intentions and allow them to prepare for changing conditions. Caution: If you are following a vehicle and the driver signals a turn, you do not have to relay their signal. This can cause confusion and lead to collisions.

Tennessee Law TCA – 55-8-143


Tip#24 Don’t Stop for Funeral Processions
Drivers should not stop for a funeral procession but should yield to their right of way. It is illegal to merge into or cut between the vehicles in a funeral procession. To show courtesy, you can slow down while the procession is going by.

Tennessee Law TCA – 55-8-183


Tip#25 Give highway workers a brake!
Drivers should reduce their speed in construction and maintenance zones to comply with state law and for the safety of workers and other drivers. Fines are enhanced for violations in construction zones.

Tennessee Law TCA – 55-8-153


Tip#26 Look before you leap.
Following the directions or “motions” of another driver to turn or cross a lane of traffic can be risky. Never follow such directions without first checking to see for yourself that the maneuver is safe and clear.


Tip#27 If there is not a seat, don’t ride.
It is unsafe for anyone to ride in the bed of a pick-up truck. The probability of injury or death sharply increases when sudden stops or turns are required and especially during collisions. It is illegal for persons under age 12 to ride in the bed of a pick-up truck.

Tennessee Law TCA – 55-8-189, City Ordinance 102-14


Tip#28 Speed Kills!
Observe all posted speed limit signs. Traffic engineers who have studied road conditions, traffic volume, and road design establish speed limits. Discipline yourself to drive smart.

Tennessee Law TCA – 55-8-153


Tip#29 Yield to Emergency Vehicles.
Drivers should always yield immediately to the right side of the roadway, when it is safe to do so, when Emergency Vehicles are approaching from behind. Do not panic or block the roadway. They may be going to your house.

Tennessee Law TCA – 55-8-132


Tip#30 Children must be restrained. Drivers: It’s your responsibility!
Tennessee State law requires that all children under the age 9 years be restrained in an approved and appropriate child restraint device. It is recommended that all children under the age of 1 year be restrained in a rear-facing device regardless of their weight. Effective July 01, 2004, all children over the age of 4 years but under age 9 and less than 5 feet tall, must be restrained in an approved and appropriate booster seat system. This is required so that the vehicles seat belt will fit the child properly.

Tennessee Law TCA – 55-9-602


Tip#31 Look both ways.
Pedestrians are required to use crosswalks where available and should cross the street only at intersections. Pedestrians are strongly warned about the hazards of crossing the road between intersections and/or stepping out into the roadway from between parked cars.

Tennessee Law TCA – 55-8-134


Tip#32 Just how good are your brakes?
Drivers should always allow a safe driving distance between vehicles. You should never follow too closely. Proper driving distance will allow drivers to slow and stop their vehicle whenever conditions require. Weather, traffic and roadway conditions should always be considered when determining what a safe distance is. It is recommended that you keep a 2 to 4 second gap between you and another vehicle. Even though Tennessee law does not require inspections – you should have tires and brakes inspected periodically.

Tennessee Law TCA – 55-9-205


Tip#33 It is against the law to drive off the main traveled portion of the highway.
Emergency lanes are not designed for vehicle travel. Do not use the emergency lane as a turn lane unless the area and pavement are clearly marked for that purpose. A vehicle traveling through the emergency lane creates hazards for vehicles that are making proper and legal right turns off the roadway.

Tennessee Law TCA – 55-8-115


Tip#34 “U” Turns are prohibited except on divided highways.
Tennessee State law states that you may not make a U-turn at any intersection controlled by a traffic light or police officer or any location where a U-turn is prohibited by signs or markings. It is also illegal to make a U-turn on an Interstate Highway, two lanes or four-lane road where there is no median. Emergency crossovers are for emergency vehicles and highway maintenance crews only. (Tennessee State Driver’s Manual)

City Ordiance 102-169


Tip#35 Improper Lane Changes
Turning vehicles are required to merge into the proper lane of travel that is closest to their point of entry into the turn. Drivers should not maneuver their vehicle across multiple lanes of travel upon first entering a new roadway.

Tennessee Law TCA – 55-8-140


Tip#36 Be Nice!
Be courteous to other motorists. Use caution and be willing to yield to other vehicles. It is better to have patience and use restraint than to cause conflict, or worse, a collision. Always allow extra driving time so you don’t feel rushed. Drivers sometimes make mistakes, even you!


Tip#37 Don’t risk injury or death for the sake of time and convenience.
When attempting to enter a busy roadway or a multi-lane roadway, drivers are encouraged to make use of intersections with traffic control devices. When a left turn is necessary and no traffic control device exists, consider making a right hand turn and traveling to a less congested area and find a safe and legal place to turn your vehicle around to travel in the desired direction.


Tip#38 BEWARE
Drivers should always be vigilant. Check your mirrors often and be aware of your surroundings at all times. Pay special attention to your “blind spots”. Likewise, do not travel in another motorists’ “blind spot”.


Tip#39 Wipers On? Headlights On!
State law requires that drivers make use of headlamps when conditions require the use of windshield wipers.

Tennessee Law TCA – 55-9-406


Tip#40 Share the road.
Be aware that motorists are not the only people using highways. They share the highway with pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, large trucks and buses and animals. (Tennessee State Driver’s Manual)


Tip#41 Just follow directions.
Drivers must obey police officers that are regulating the flow of traffic. Be patient with traffic officers. Its dangerous for officers to be in traffic and it can be frustrating for both the driver and the officer in communicating by hand signals.

Tennessee Law TCA – 55-8-104


Tip#42 Don’t Ask!
Motorists should understand that police officers can’t grant permission for anyone to violate a traffic law just for the sake of convenience to that person. An example is when a person asks permission to park illegally to take care of an errand. Permission cannot be granted, so don’t be surprised to hear “no”.


Tip#43 Don’t back into trouble.
In general, never back a vehicle in the wrong direction in a travel lane except when backing into a parallel parking space. (Tennessee State Driver’s Manual)


Tip#44 Lock it if you like it.
To prevent motor vehicle theft you should always lock your vehicle and pocket your keys. Nearly 20% of all vehicles stolen had the keys in them. Remember to lock the trunk, the hatchback, or the tailgate of a station wagon or sport utility vehicle (SUV). (American Crime Prevention Institute)


Tip#45 Your vehicle may not be there when you get back.
If your vehicle breaks down, never leave it parked and unattended in the roadway. Move the vehicle to the roadway shoulder. State law gives the police the authority to remove all vehicles that are road hazards. If you must leave your vehicle in the road, call the local authorities. We’ll come and help you get it out of the road.

Tennessee Law TCA – 55-8-159


Tip #46 Slippery when wet.
Wet pavement can be treacherous so always reduce your speed in wet weather. You will need additional distance for stopping. You will need to reduce your speed to turn safely when the road is wet. (Tennessee State Driver’s Manual) It is a good practice to check your tire treads and air pressure periodically.


Tip #47 Short cuts are trouble.
It is illegal to drive through parking lots and private property to avoid traffic signals at intersections. This creates a danger for pedestrians in the parking lots. Respect others. Don’t “shortcut” through residential areas. Most residential streets are not designed for high traffic volumes. Hazards in residential areas are children playing, people walking, etc. and this raises risks to others.


Tip #48 Can you be seen?
Make sure your headlights and taillights are in working order. State law requires that each vehicle have two functioning headlights and two functioning rear lights on each vehicle. State law mandates that the vehicle lights be on 30 minutes before sunset and 30 minutes after sunrise or when low light conditions warrant their use. Lights must be on during inclement weather (rain, fog, snow, etc).

Tennessee Law TCA – 55-9-402


Tip #49 When to move your vehicle.
If you are involved in a motor vehicle crash with very minor damage to the vehicle and no injury, move the vehicles to the side of the road out of the traffic lane. This helps restore the traffic flow and reduces the hazard of another crash happening.


Tip #50 Sharing the road with pedestrians.
Pedestrians must walk on sidewalks when available. When no sidewalks are available, pedestrians must walk on the left side of the road facing the traffic. (Traffic should be coming toward you), this allows you to see any sudden dangers coming at you.

Tennessee Law TCA – 55-8-138


Tip #51 Do not follow fire trucks that are responding to an emergency call.
It is illegal to follow a fire truck that is responding to an emergency call or park within the block where fire apparatus has stopped to answer a fire alarm. Other emergency vehicles may also be responding and cannot render assistance if your vehicle is blocking their access.

Tennessee Law TCA – 55-8-168


Tip #52 Sharing the road with bicycles.
Bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities on the streets that vehicles do, and, in most cases, they must share the lane. Bicycles are required to travel on the right hand side of the road with other traffic. Bicyclists are not allowed to travel facing traffic.

Tennessee Law TCA – 55-8-175


Traffic safety tips are based on the “Rules of the Road” found in the Tennessee Law TCA or safety practices described in the Tennessee Drivers Manual or other opinions of safety experts.

If you have questions about this traffic safety tip or other traffic questions, call the Kingsport Police Department Community Relations Office, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday thru Friday at 423-229-9433 or e-mail us at kptpd [at] ci [dot] kingsport [dot] tn [dot] us


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