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Residential Traffic Checks

Residential Traffic Checks - Always Be Scanning

Today we're looking at traffic checks and the role they play at any intersection you'll find in a neighborhood. Missed traffic checks in "real life" commonly lead to collisions and injuries, and missed traffic checks on your DMV test can lead to several point deductions or even the dreaded test auto fail. Join Drivers Ed Direct instructor Micah as he expertly breaks down how and when to perform traffic checks.

What's a Traffic Check?

A traffic check is a defensive driving scan for other traffic, pedestrians, or any other obstacles you may encounter while driving.

How Do You Do a Traffic Check?

In general, you perform a traffic check using quick glances to the left, to the right, and then back to the left again (left-right-left).

When Do You Check a Traffic Check?

You want to do a traffic check before entering any intersection, whether you have the right-of-way or not.

Any Other Traffic Check Tips?

Yes! Don't just do traffic checks before intersections. You also want to be continually scanning the road while you drive straight, looking for any obstacles that may "jump out" in front of your car unexpectedly.

Traffic Checks - Part 1, Video Transcript

Today we're looking at Traffic Checks and the role they play at any intersection you'll find in a neighborhood.

Let's start with an all-way stop. All way stops are intersections where every direction of travel has a stop sign. I'm going to try a right turn at this all-way stop... so first, I'm going to come to my full complete stop, and here comes my traffic check. I'm going to look left, right, left. Now I got here first so that tells me that I've got the right of way. I can go first. Of course, if I stopped at the same time as the car on the right, they would have the right of way. Now let's try a left turn at an all-way stop. Now you'll notice my head hasn't stopped moving. I'm looking for anything that can enter my path of travel. That's called scanning. I'm going to try a left at this all-way stop. This all-way stop will look a little different because it's a T-intersection. I'm arriving at the -- actually this Mercedes got here just before me so they're going to go first. I'm doing my full complete stop, left, right, left... looks good. I know it's safe to make my left turn and I've got the right of way.

Let's try a 2-way stop. Now a 2-way stop is an intersection you could be tested on where cross traffic does not have a stop sign, they could be going 25 miles an hour... so I'm going to do my full stop; my traffic check. Now I can not see if there is a car coming from the left so I'm going to inch out. My foot is still on the brake, left, right, left. Looks good. Oh, here comes a car, so I'm going to do a full complete stop. They have the right of way. If they brake for me, I fail my test; left, right, left. Now it looks good. Now I know I can safely go through the 2-way stop without impeding anyone's right of way.

We've done traffic checks at all-way stops, now let's try a controlled T-intersection. The top of the T, or cross traffic, has the right of way. We do not. I'm going to do my full stop, left, right, left. It's a little hard to see so I'm going to inch out past the limit line, another traffic check, left, right, left. Now it looks good. Ok, no car coming out. I won't impede anyone's right of way if I turn left. I know it's safe to finish my left turn at a controlled T. There the traffic check was even more important.

Now let's try an uncontrolled T intersection. I'm going to make a left turn. Now an uncontrolled T intersection is the toughest. No direction of traffic has a stop sign. I'm at the bottom so the top of the T has the right of way, cross-traffic, so I'm going to go really slow; two to three miles an hour and I'm going to start a few traffic checks, left, right, left... left, right, left. Now here comes a cyclist from my right so I'm going to wait. I'm going to let this cyclist go and keep up my traffic checks so I did a full complete stop but now that he's safely gone past me, I'm going to creep out, left, right, left. Looks good. Now I'm going to safely finish my left turn. I didn't want to impede the cyclist's right of way.

Now let's talk about your drive test for a minute. On your Drive Test, you are graded on traffic checks and scans and it's usually a point off if you miss one, however, as you saw at those uncontrolled Ts, they can be very important. Those could be a fail. Now on your Drive Test, they'll have you drive straight. They'll actually grade you on just how you drive straight and they want to see that you're doing a traffic check for every intersection but you're also scanning the road for anything that could enter your path of travel... so a traffic check, like I'm coming up to an intersection here. I'm going to look left, right, left, even though I have the right of way, but a scan is kind of looking at anything that could pull out of a driveway, jump out from behind a car, anything that could enter your path of travel. If you miss one that's one point off but you can see driving straight for a minute, my head is kind of just always glancing. I'm kind of nosey, making sure that nothing is going to jump out in front of my car.

Well, thank you for watching Part 1 of Traffic Checks! In the next video, we're going to look at the role traffic checks play on major streets. Good luck on your drive test and see you in the next video.


Thanks for joining professional driving instructor, Micah, as he showed us the correct way to do traffic checks. Today you learned how to do them at all-way stops, 2-way stops, and T-intersections. Remember, when taking your DMV Drive Test, you are tested on how you do traffic checks and how often you do them, so make sure you practice them a lot. If you miss a traffic check, your examiner could take a point off.

After watching this video a few times, you will become a traffic check natural. Join us next time to learn how to do traffic checks on major streets!