Important Terms You Should Know

Throughout this course, you’ll read terms that take on unique and important meanings in the context of driving. So, it makes sense that we should introduce some of them to you now. After all, if you cannot understand what you read, what good is the course, right?

Here is a partial list of terms and phrases you will see throughout the course. Take some time to learn them. You will get much more out of the information we present. So, in no particular order, the key terms you need to understand are:          

Driving Privileges      Okay, you’ve seen this already. This is your privilege – not right – to legally operate a vehicle. For all intents and purposes, losing your driving privileges is losing your license.

Right of Way   Quite simply, this means who goes first? You will most certainly encounter other drivers out on the road. Many times, you and one or more drivers will arrive at the same place at the same time. If so, who gets to go first? Traffic laws explain this, however, you must never forget that there will be drivers who, for some reason, change or ignore the rules.

Yield   To yield (the right of way) is to let someone go first when multiple drivers arrive at the same place at the same time. Again, never assume that all drivers will do what is dictated by the rules of the road. Speaking of which…

Rules of the Road      Traffic laws. These are the rules you must follow when you are operating a vehicle. Technically, bicyclists and pedestrians also have rules of the road that they should observe. It’s not just about motorized vehicles.

Impaired        If you are driving while impaired, something is keeping you from driving properly – and safely. This term is usually associated with drugs or alcohol. Driving while impaired is similar to driving under the influence. Technically, though, if anyone or anything inside of your vehicle draws your attention away from your driving, you can be temporarily impaired.  This, if a passenger does anything that obstructs your view for example.

Ignition Interlock Device     You may see variations of this term. This device is something that is connected to the ignition system of a vehicle. A potential driver must blow into a mouthpiece on the device before starting the vehicle. If there is any trace of alcohol above a pre-set limit on the driver’s breath, the vehicle will not start. You might also have to pull over periodically to provide another sample. Some ignition interlock devices have cameras to verify the identity of the person blowing into the device.

B-A-L This stands for Blood Alcohol Level. It is a number expressed as a percentage that tells how much alcohol a person has in the bloodstream. For adult drivers over age twenty-one, the legal BAL is 0.08%. If  you are taking this course and under twenty-one years old, your legal BAL limit is 0.02%, even though it should be zero! But you know that, right? Later in the course, you will learn about the official limits for those who can and cannot consume alcohol legally.

Moving Violation      A moving violation is when you break a particular traffic law while your vehicle is in motion. Unfortunately, you may already have experience with a moving violation; that’s why you’re here. If you do something wrong when your vehicle is moving, you risk losing control of your car and causing property damage or injury. That is why moving violations are treated as serious infractions.
Depending on the type or degree of violation, you can be assessed a pretty hefty fine. Regardless of whether you cause a crash or lose control of your vehicle, being cited for a moving violation has many negative consequences that you’ll learn about later in the course.

In Motion       It’s not necessarily what you think! In many states, you do not have to be in your vehicle while it is moving to be considered “in motion.” If you are stopped at an intersection or in traffic with your foot on the brake, you might still  be considered  “in motion.” This is not the case in Florida but may be in other states. Be sure you know what the law defines as “in motion” wherever you drive.  Don’t find out the hard way.

S-R-S  SRS, or “Supplementary Restraint System” is the fancy term for airbags. You’ll learn a few key facts about airbag systems in this course.

A-B-S  Anti-Lock Braking systems work a bit differently from standard brakes. You will learn about ABS a bit later on.

Blind Spots     When driving, you simply cannot see everything around you using just your side mirrors. Blind spots are the areas around the back quarters of your vehicle that you cannot see through the mirrors. You must look over your shoulder to be sure your path is clear when changing lanes, for example. Later in the course, you will read about your blind spots, but also about recognizing when you may be in someone else’s blind spot.

Pavement Markings  These are the lines, stripes, colored curbs, and other markings you will see painted directly on the pavement. These markings carry the same significance and weight as do all other traffic lights and signs.

Accident    NO SUCH THING! In this course, expect to see the terms “crash” and “collision.” Accidents, while mostly unintended, occur when there is absolutely nothing anyone could have done to prevent them. Human error is a factor in just about every motor vehicle crash, no matter how serious. Multiple reports by the National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey attribute “driver error” to over 90% of crashes. There is always some slip-up or careless move by a driver to cause a crash. Nobody intends to get into a collision, but there is usually something they do or do not do that leads to one.

Source: Singh, S. (2015, February). Critical reasons for crashes investigated in the National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey. (Traffic Safety Facts Crash•Stats. Report No. DOT HS 812 115). Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Implied Consent        When you sign for and receive your license, you are also agreeing to submit to testing for alcohol and drugs if requested to do so by law enforcement. This agreement is “implied” when you take possession of your license. Refusal to submit to such testing will result in a one-year suspension of your driving privileges. A second refusal will get you a first-degree misdemeanor charge and an eighteen month suspension. This law is so important that we have provided the actual statute below. Here is the part that concerns your agreeing to submit to testing when requested by law enforcement:

Florida 2022 Statutes Title XXIII Chapter 322 Section 1932

Tests for alcohol, chemical substances, or controlled substances; implied consent; refusal.

(1)(a)1.a. A person who accepts the privilege extended by the laws of this state of operating a motor vehicle within this state is, by operating such vehicle, deemed to have given his or her consent to submit to an approved chemical test or physical test….The person shall be told that his or her failure to submit to any lawful test of his or her breath will result in the suspension of the person’s privilege to operate a motor vehicle for a period of 1 year for a first refusal, or for a period of 18 months if the driving privilege of such person has been previously suspended…b. …deemed to have given his or her consent to submit to a urine test for the purpose of detecting the presence of chemical substances…


Vulnerable Road User   During the course, you will see this important term shown as VRU as well. Vulnerable Road User is a blanket term encompassing anyone out on the road who is vulnerable to the potential harm that a vehicle driven by a careless or inattentive driver can cause. So, VRUs are pedestrians, cyclists, and children on scooters or skateboards. While you’re at it, add moped drivers and motorcyclists to that list. Yes, motorcycles are permitted to be operated on the roads just like trucks and passenger vehicles; face it, though – in a collision, who will fare better, a motorcyclist or the operator of a large SUV?

 Statute     A statute is a law enacted by a legislative body such as the Florida Senate. You will find Florida’s Traffic Laws in Chapter 316 of Title XXIII of The Florida Statutes.  Throughout this course, we will highlight certain statutes, specifically the portions that pertain to you. You just read one on the Implied Consent Law. This is the official wording of many of the laws we will explain to you. Typically, statutes are listed in chapter and section numbers. So later in the course, if you see something like 316.005, it refers to section 005 of Chapter 316 of Title XXIII of the Florida Statutes. Again, we have provided the parts of the laws most relevant to you and highlighted the words that affect you the most.


M A I S   MAIS  stands for “Maximum Abbreviated Injury Scale.” Throughout this course, you will see graphs and tables with statistical information related to traffic laws, injuries, and fatalities. MAIS numbers will appear in some of these tables. In a nutshell, there are MAIS ratings that go from one to six. These numbers represent the severity of injuries people sustain, for our purposes, as a result of a vehicle crash. MAIS 0 basically means uninjured while MAIS 6 means not survivable or fatal.


F A R S     FARS stands for Fatality Analysis Reporting System. This system provides fatality statistics to many government agencies including the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. Most of the statistical information you will see in the course comes from the FARS system.


P D O   This is another table item you can expect to see. PDO stands for property damage only. Just because no one is injured in a crash does not mean the consequences of the crash come with no cost!





            If you are familiar with these terms already, great! If you are not, be sure you get to know and understand their meanings. That’s the only way you’ll fully understand Florida’s rules of the road.

We sincerely hope that you will find this course both informative and even a bit entertaining. We don’t want to fill you with gloom and doom –  however, we are obligated to help you to face reality. And the reality is, poor or careless drivers cause pain and suffering in the form of property damage, injury, or even death. So while you should absolutely enjoy the independence that comes with being a licensed driver, you must never forget that consequences come when you or another driver near you make a mistake or a poor decision. Age does not matter. Years on the road don’t matter. Damage is damage and injury is injury. The driver who causes it can be sixteen or eighty –  the result is still the same.

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