Takeaways from the “California Driver Handbook 2017”

In this article, I share with you my notes from the “California Driver Handbook 2017“. Perhaps it will come in handy when you are preparing for the driving test in California:


  • Speed limit
    • The maximum speed limit on most California highways is 65 mph. You may drive 70 mph where posted. Unless otherwise posted, the maximum speed limit is 55 mph on a two-lane undivided highway and for vehicles towing trailers.
    • California has a “Basic Speed Law.” This law means that you may never drive faster than is safe for current conditions. For example, if you are driving 45 mph in a 55 mph speed zone during a dense fog, you may be cited for driving “too fast for conditions.”
    • The speed limit in any alley is 15 mph.
    • Business or Residential Districts: The speed limit is 25 mph, unless otherwise posted.
  • Stopping and safe distance
    • At 55mph, it takes about 400 feet to react and bring the vehicle to a complete stop, and at 35mph, it takes about 210 feet.
  • Pedestrians, bicyclists
    • Pedestrians, bicyclists, or other vehicles alongside you may experience sudden strong winds when passing or being passed. Slow down and pass safely, and pass only at a safe distance (typically 3 feet or more for bicyclists).
  • Blind Intersections
      The speed limit for a blind intersection is 15 mph. An intersection is considered “blind” if there are no stop signs at any corner and you cannot see for 100 feet in either direction during the last 100 feet before crossing.
  • Near animals
    • If you see a stray animal in your path, slow down or stop if it’s safe. Do not swerve as you may lose control of your vehicle and cause an accident.

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  • Visual Search
    • Before changing lanes, look into your rear view mirror for nearby vehicles and over your shoulder to check for blind spots.
    • If a vehicle merges in front of you too closely, take your foot off of the accelerator. This gives space between you and the vehicle ahead, without having to slam on your brakes or swerve into another lane.
    • To avoid tailgating, use the “3 second rule”: when the vehicle ahead of you passes a certain point, such as a sign, count “one- thousand-one, one-thousand-two, one-thousand-three.” This takes approximately 3 seconds. If you pass the same point before you finish counting, you are following too closely.
      Increase to 4 seconds under bad weather conditions (slippery road, etc…)
    • Do not rely on traffic signal lights. Some drivers do not obey traffic signal lights.
      Before you enter an intersection, look left, right, and ahead for approaching traffic.
    • Be careful when driving near motorcyclists or bicyclists. Always leave plenty of
      room between your vehicle and any motorcyclists or bicyclists.
    • If possible and when safe, make room for vehicles entering freeways even though you have the right-of-way.
    • Do not stay in another driver’s blind spot. The other driver may not see your ve- hicle and could change lanes and hit you.
    • Know where your kids are. Make sure they are away from your vehicle and in full view before moving your vehicle.
    • Do not depend only on your mirrors or only looking out a side window.
  • Lanes and lanes colors
    • Two sets of solid double yellow lines spaced 2 feet or more apart are consid- ered a barrier.
    • Double white lines are two solid white lines that indicate a lane barrier between a regular use and a preferential use lane, such as a carpool/HOV. Never change lanes while in these lanes; wait until a single broken white line appears. You may also see these parallel lines in or near freeway on and off ramps.
    • Do not weave in and out of traffic. Stay in one lane as much as possible. Once you start through an intersection, keep going. If you start to make a turn, follow through. Last minute changes may cause collisions. If you miss a turn, continue until you can safely and legally turn around.
    • The pavement in this lane is marked with a diamond symbol and the words “Carpool Lane.” These lanes are also known as HOV lanes. Do not cross over double parallel solid lines to enter or exit any carpool/HOV lane except at designated entry or exit places.
    • If you are driving slowly on a two-lane highway or road where passing is unsafe, and 5 or more vehicles are following, you must drive into the turnout areas or lanes to let the vehicles pass.
    • Shared Roadway Bicycle markings ( or Sharrows) are used to alert other traffic that bicyclists are allowed to occupy this travel lane. When used appropri- ately, sharrows can also help bicyclists to maintain a safe lane position.
    • Do not drive in a bicycle lane unless you are preparing to make a right turn or park, and only then you must enter the bicycle lane no more than
      200 feet before the corner or other driveway entrance.
    • Safety suggestion: While waiting to turn left, keep your wheels pointed straight ahead until it is safe to start your turn. If your wheels are pointed to the left and a vehicle hits you from behind, you could be pushed into oncoming traffic.
  • Parking at colored curbs
    • White: Stop only long enough to pick up or drop off passengers or mail.
    • Green: Park for a limited time. Look for a posted sign next to the green zone for time limits, or locate the time limit painted on the curb.
    • Yellow: Stop no longer than the time post- ed to load or unload passengers or freight. Drivers of noncommercial vehicles are usu- ally required to stay with the vehicle.
    • Red: No stopping, standing, or parking. (Buses may stop at a red zone marked for buses.)
    • Blue: Parking is permitted only for a disabled person or driver of a dis-abled person who displays a placard or special license plate for disabled persons or disabled veterans.

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