Wednesday, November 03, 2010

PSP Citizen's Police Academy: Week 3

Vehicle Codes and Crash Investigation

by Annette Dashofy

I’ve been driving for more years than I care to admit, so when Trooper Robin Mungo presented us with a written driving test, I hoped I wouldn’t embarrass myself. So let’s begin today’s blog with a sampling of the questions. I’ll give you the answers later. And remember, these are for Pennsylvania.

An open-bed pickup truck or open flatbed truck may not be driven at a speed of more than ___ mph, if any person over 18 is occupying the bed of the truck.
A. 55
B. 25
C. 35
D. 45

The number one reason that 16 – 17 year old drivers are involved in crashes.
A. texting
B. talking on the phone
C. speed
D. inexperience

What is a safe following distance on dry pavement?
A. 6 second following distance
B. Being able to read the license plate on the back of the vehicle
C. 4 second following distance
D. Being able to see the rear tires of the vehicle in front of you

State law requires drivers to use their headlights (pick all that apply)
A. when the windshield wipers are in use
B. between sunset and sunrise
C. all the time
D. when driving through work zones
E. when you cannot see pedestrians or vehicles on the highway for a distance of 2,000 feet ahead.

The other part of the class was devoted to crash investigation and was led by Trooper Jay Bondarenko of Troop B, Pittsburgh.

The term, by the way, is “crash” or “collision.” The state police no longer use the term “accident” because there is generally always someone at fault. The exception to that involves hazards of the road such as deer, road kill, wood or rocks on the road, chunks of blown off retread, etc. (Note: PennDOT, however, does still call them accidents.)

Crashes or collisions can be divided into two groups: reportable and non reportable. A reportable collision is one in which there is an injury or the vehicle(s) need to be towed from the scene. Non reportable crashes involve those with no injuries and the vehicles are able to be driven. All that’s required in these cases is to do an exchange of info (driver’s license, proof of insurance, and registration)

When the police are called for a basic investigation, they must fill out a thorough report that includes things like weather conditions, lighting, speed, direction the vehicle was traveling, air bag deployment and the like. To get an idea of the type of form they must fill out, click here.

If a death has occurred as a result of the crash, the collision analysis gets even more involved. The first trooper on the scene does the initial report. Then a collision deconstructionist is called out to study skid marks, yaw marks, and debris. Finally, the forensic service unit comes to the scene to photograph and collect evidence such as paint transfer.

FYI, currently texting while driving isn’t illegal in Pennsylvania, however, the police use the term “careless driving” as a catch-all for such things as texting, eating, changing the radio, etc.

Now, getting back those questions at the beginning…

The correct answers are:

An open-bed pickup truck or open flatbed truck may not be driven at a speed of more than ___ mph, if any person over 18 is occupying the bed of the truck.
C. 35

The number one reason that 16 – 17 year old drivers are involved in crashes.
C. speed

What is a safe following distance on dry pavement?
C. 4 second following distance

State law requires drivers to use their headlights (pick all that apply)
A. when the windshield wipers are in use
B. between sunset and sunrise
D. when driving through work zones

And for the record, no, I didn’t get all of those right on the test. I’m just hoping Trooper Mungo was grading on a curve.

I’ll be back next Thursday with week #4: Traffic Stops and a Drug Recognition Expert

6 comments:

Gina said...

Annette -
Thanks for sharing the quiz. I didn't get them all right either. [Of course, you probably remember the fiasco in our CPA class when I forgot what all about solid yellow lights.]
I admit to riding in the back of my uncle's truck on his farm, bouncing through the fields and almost falling out, but I can't help thinking that it's way too unsafe to ride in the back of a truck on a public road. Maybe that should be illegal? I'm thinking of the poor driver following behind who has a person fall out right in front of his/her car or onto his/her hood.

Jennie Bentley said...

Good thing I don't live in PA, cause I would have failed all of those. Yet I drive every day, too.

Sounds like a good refresher course on some things...

Joyce Tremel said...

I didn't know the answer to the pick up truck one.

Although it's not required, it's a good idea to call 911 even for a non-reportable accident (unless it's really, really minor). When I worked at the PD, you wouldn't believe how many accident report requests I'd get from attorneys whose clients were suing the other party. Half the time, the one suing was the one at fault! Don't take any chances. File the report.

Annette said...

There were 28 questions in the test we took. I'm not going to confess to my score. But, yeah, I missed the pickup truck one, too.

Gina, I hate to admit it, but I messed up the steady yellow light thing this time.

Ramona said...

I would get kicked out of that class. I started giggling at the phrase "person over 18 is occupying the bed" and couldn't stop. Occupying?

I'm a bit punchy from lack of sleep. Yeah, that's it.

Annette said...

Ramona, you need a nap. Preferrably NOT in the bed of a truck going 35 mph down the road.

And, btw, wasn't it you who started who "unit" thing with Martha? You're beginning to worry me, Ramona! LOL!