Useful driving terms

Driving terms



Aggressive driving: Aggressive driving occurs when a person commits a moving traffic offense or combination of offenses that endangers other people or property. An aggressive driver drives in such a manner as to increase the risk of a car accident. Aggressive driving behaviours include a wide of hazardous driving maneuvers such as speeding, tailgating, running red light and stop signs, improper passing, etc.

Air bag: The air bag is a car safety device. It provides car drivers and passengers extra protection in a collision. The bag inflates rapidly in a car collision and prevents car’s occupants from striking interior objects such as the steering wheel or window.

Angle parking: Angle parking is a parking space that is arranged at an angle in which the car has its front closest to the curb.

Antilock Braking System (ABS): Antilock Braking System is a modern technology found on newer vehicles. ABS lets drivers maintain car stability and directional control, and may reduce stopping distances while braking hard such as on wet and icy roads.


Basic Speed Law: The Basic Speed Law states that drivers must never drive faster than is safe for present conditions, regardless of the posted speed limit. Engineers determine speed limits by looking at the kind of road, where it is located, and how it is being used.

Blind spots: Blind spots are part of areas on the road that cannot be seen by drivers while looking at rear-view or side mirrors. It is necessary that the driver turns his or her head in order to see a car in one of these blind spots. Blind spots exist in vehicles such as cars, trucks, aircrafts, etc


Carpool lanes: Known as well as high occupancy vehicle lanes or commuter lanes. They are marked with a diamond symbol and designated for people driving with typically at least one passenger. They are lanes on or off highways and freeways and it is a useful way to reduce the number of vehicles using the roads in heavy commuter traffic.

Central vision: Central vision is when the eyes focus straight ahead, allowing people to drive, read, and see details sharply. The central vision picks out details of objects and provides to the brain with feedback and creating a clear picture in front of the viewer's eyes. It only covers approximately three degrees of our visual field, but it allows people to make very significant judgments such as estimating distance.

Child safety seat: Known as well as a child restraint system or a restraint car seat. It is required by law to bring a child in a vehicle. They are designed specifically to protect children from injury or death in case of collisions. There are child safety equipment usage laws and there is a fine for failing to do so.

Controlled intersections: There are two types of intersections: Uncontrolled and controlled. Controlled intersections have traffic control signs such as lights, yield signs, stop signs, etc. It is necessary drivers obey these signs and right of way rules when they approaches this type of intersection.

Covering the brake: Covering the brake is a technique that provides a soft transition from acceleration to braking. It consists on taking the right foot off the accelerator and holding it just above the brake pedal.

Citation: Abbreviation used to refer to court decisions.


Double parking: Double parking can be used to refer to a different parking techniques most of them illegal. In this sense double parking is a traffic violation punishable by fine that consists in illegally parking next to another car that is properly parked in on the street or when it is taking up two parking spaces in a parking space. In case all parking spaces are full it is a good idea trying to find one farther away.

Defensive driving: Defensive driving is the skill set that allows drivers to defend their self against possible collisions caused by bad drivers, unsafe road conditions, etc. It involves learning a more proactive attitude behind the wheel, anticipating potential dangers instead of simply reacting to them.

Drivers license: Driver license is an official document which states that an individual can operate a motorized vehicle, such as a car, motorcycle, truck or a bus. It is not a constitutional right, it is a privilege.

Drivers Handbook: Each Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in the US provides a drivers handbook . A driver handbook is a manual and guide that contains information about licenses, road signs, laws and rules of the road, seat belts, safety issues, etc. It also serves as a handy reference tool for drivers who are looking for refreshing their driving skills.

Driving While Intoxicated (DWI): An individual commits a DUI or DWI (synonymous terms) offense if he/ she operates a motor vehicle while intoxicated or being under the influence of alcohol or drugs or a combination of both.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI): An individual commits a DUI or DWI(synonymous terms)offense if he/ she operates a motor vehicle while intoxicated or being under the influence of alcohol or drugs or a combination of both.


Escape route: A planned escape route away from dangerous road situations such as fire. These routes can be taken to prevent the injuries and property damage.

Emergency flasher: Emergency flashers as known as well as hazard lights warn other drivers of an emergency situation drivers may be in or that driver’s car is parked on the side of the road. All four turn signal lights turn on when it is activated. It is needed to consult the auto manual for the location of the hazard lights switch in the vehicle.

Emission testing: Emissions testing verifies the levels of hazardous materials that escape from a motor vehicle with a combustion engine. In many areas of the United States emissions testing is mandatory. The purpose of mandated emissions testing is to cut down on pollutants that are harmful to the environment. It can be done at certified stations such as gas stations, auto dealerships, etc

Evasive action: An evasive action is a fast and effective maneuver aimed to avoid colliding with a person, another vehicle, an object, etc


Following distance: The following distance is a space between driver’s car and the car ahead of him/her. It is recommended to keep a rational following distance so drivers can safely stop in case of emergency.

Freeways: Freeways are limited access divided highways where all of the traffic moves in the same direction without traffic lights and stops. They are designed for maximum safety and efficiency, but it is needed to know how to navigate them properly.


Gauges: Gauges display important information about the car condition and its supplies usage. These are interior mechanisms such as speedometer and tachometer.

Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL): A licensing system that expands the learning process for drivers in training and allows more time to learn the complex skills required to operate a vehicle. The GDL consists of three stages identified by the type of license: learners permit, intermediate (provisional) license, and full license. The three stages of the GDL system include specific components and restrictions to introduce driving privileges gradually to new drivers.


Head restraint: Known as well as headrest. It is a cushion at the top of an automobile seat, behind the occupant's head to prevent whiplash injury of the neck in case of rear impact crashes.

Highway hypnosis: Known as well as “Driving without attention mode” (DWAM). It is a real driving hazard that occurs when an individual has been driving a vehicle along a long stretch of roadway for an extended period of time (generally driving on open highways). In this condition the driver becomes unconscious and unable to respond and he/she operates the vehicle in a dulled, drowsy, trance-like state.

Hydroplaning: Or aquaplaning. It is caused by a combination of standing water on the roadway, car speed, and worn-out tires. It happens when the tires of a vehicle lose traction due to wet road surfaces, causing the vehicle to drift like a sled until the wheels gain traction again. It is needed that drivers be aware of the risk of hydroplaning during rainy weather and they drive carefully in order to avoid this dangerous driving situation. They never attempt to steer or brake as this will cause they to lose control. They just have to remove their foot from the accelerator and let the car slow down.


Identify, predict, decide, execute (IPDE): Identify, Predict, Decide, and Execute (IPDE) is a very useful strategy for driving. It involves gathering, interpreting, and acting on traffic information. It means that drivers have to identify possible dangerous situations, predict how they may affect them and other highway users, use this information to decide what action to take to avoid a collision and finally execute their decision).

Implied consent law: Under an implied consent law, any person who is driving a vehicle is deemed to have consented to a DUI chemical test, if asked to do so by a law enforcement officer.


Jaywalking: Jaywalking it is a considerable cause of traffic collisions and pedestrians deaths. It refers to illegal or irresponsible pedestrian crossing a street outside of a designated crosswalk or intersection and without any concern for traffic rules or signals.


Knowledge test: A knowledge test is a test given to applicants for driver’s license by a drivers licensing office. This test includes questions about traffic laws, rules and regulations, and traffic signs.


Lane position: Lane position is the placement of drivers' car (center, right or left) on a lane. These different lane positions can be used to make adjustments for potential problems and create more space between drivers' car and problem situations.

Learners permit: Learners permit is a restricted license that is given to an individual who is learning to drive but has not yet satisfied the needed requirements to obtain a driver's license.

Liability insurance: Liability insurance is required by law in many states. It protects the insured in case he/she is sued for claims that come within the coverage of the insurance policy.


Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD): The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices is a document that defines the standards for signs, signals, and pavement markings in United States. It is issued by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).


National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is an agency of the executive branch of the US government and it is part of the Department of Transportation. Its mission is to “save lives, prevent injuries, and reduce vehicle-related crashes”.


Overdriving your headlights: Overdriving your headlights means not being able to stop inside the illuminated area ahead. It happens when drivers go so fast that their stopping distance is farther than they can see with their headlights.


Parallel parking: Parallel parking means parking a vehicle in line with other parked cars, next to a curb in the space between two parked cars.

Peace officer: A peace officer is a law enforcement personnel who has been charged with keeping the peace. State laws usually limit "peace officer" status to civil officers (sheriffs, city police, district police, etc). One of the things people who are interested in working as a peace officer need to have is a clean criminal record.

Pedestrians: A pedestrian is a person on foot or using a conveyance propelled by human power such as roller skates or skateboards. Disabled persons are also considered pedestrians. They may use powered devices like self-propelled wheelchairs, tricycles, etc.


Regulatory signs: Regulatory traffic signs are signs that give a direction that must be obeyed. Generally they are square or rectangular with a white/black background and black, white or coloured letters.

Right-of-way: Right-of-way refers to the right of one car or vessel to take precedence over another or to go first in some road situations when at least two road users could use the same space.

Road rage: Road rage can be considered as an extreme case of aggressive driving or more than it. It happens when drivers getting angry over something while operating their car. This aggressive behaviour involves abusive gestures or languages, deliberately driving in an unsafe or threatening manner, make threats, etc. Road rage can cause injuries and even deaths such as a result of altercations, assaults, and collisions.


Service signs: Service signs are blue and inform that there are nearby services such as gas, hospitals, lodging, call boxes, telephones, places to eat.

Skid: Skidding is one of the main causes of accidents arising out of mechanical faults, bad road conditions and/or human error. To skid means to slide without rotating. Skids occur when drivers lose control of their steering; their vehicle is failing to grip the roadway and sliding sideways on the road.


Tailgating: Tailgating is considered an aggressive driving behaviour that means following a vehicle too closely. You can avoid tailgaters by changing lanes or pull off the road when safe and let the tailgater pass.

Target: A target is a fixed object located 12-20 seconds ahead of drivers’ car, in the center of the path of travel. The target is what the driver steers toward ( a car, a traffic signal, the crest of a hill, etc). A target helps to new drivers anticipate a number of traffic situations ahead.

Through Street: A through street is a street on which the through movement of traffic is given preference. Generally it is a main street in a town or district that serves as the main roadway for traffic.


Uncontrolled intersection: An uncontrolled intersection is a road intersection that hasn’t traffic control signs or signals. They are usually found in areas with not much traffic. When a driver approaches this kind of intersection, he/she must obey right-of-way rules.


Vehicle Code (traffic laws): A state’s Vehicle Code is a set of laws related to the operation of motor vehicles.

Vehicle owner's manual: A vehicle owner's manual is the best source and guide of useful information about the car. The information in the manual include how to check the engine oil, how to change the bulb, how to change the tire and more.

Velocitation: Velocitation is a phenomenon that happens when someone unconsciously drives too fast. It is caused by driving for long periods at high speeds. Velocitation is hazardous since it can lead individuals drive much faster than you intend.


Warning signs: A warning sign is a road sign that warn drivers to slow down or watch hazards ahead. These signs suggest drivers increase their attention to whatever is in the sign.


Yield: Yield is letting other road users go first.


Zero Tolerance Law: The Zero Tolerance Law states that if a minor, under the age of 21 (age will depends on the Estate) is found operating a motor vehicle that has any detectable amount of alcohol in his/her system, he /she has committed the criminal offense of DUI and faces an immediately license suspension.