Defensive driving goes beyond following basic traffic laws and simply knowing how to operate a vehicle. It involves making safe and well-informed decisions as well as actually anticipating dangerous situations before they occur.
Practicing these techniques can help keep you safe on the road.
Focus on Driving
Avoid activities such as talking on the phone, texting, eating, and personal grooming. Staying focused will help you see potential problems in time to properly respond or avoid them.
Staying alert while driving allows you to respond quickly to potential problems – such as a child running into the street or a driver slamming on their brakes in front of you. Your judgment and response time can be adversely affected by simple daydreaming as well as from doziness or being under the influence of alcohol or drugs (including over-the-counter and prescription drugs). Take responsibility by getting adequate rest and refraining from substances that will affect your ability to respond in a timely manner.
Maintain an Appropriate Speed
Following the posted speed limit is fine while road conditions are clear; however, it is up to you to ensure your speed matches conditions. Slow down to maintain control of your vehicle, particularly if the road is wet or if other risky conditions are present.
Be Aware of Other People on the Road
You are less likely to be caught off guard if you pay attention to other people on the road and anticipate their actions. Paying attention and anticipating what other drivers may do will help you to adjust accordingly. Don’t assume other drivers will see and accommodate your vehicle – anticipate the worse-case scenario and be prepared to respond.
Maintain a Safe Following Distance
Keep at least three to four seconds of distance between you and the vehicle in front of you – increase this distance in bad weather or if following a large truck or motorcycle. Maintaining a safe distance helps give you adequate time to brake to a stop if necessary to avoid a collision.
Don’t be Overconfident
It is easy for someone who has had a lot of driving experience to become overconfident in their abilities and allow their driving skills to become sloppy. No matter how much driving experience you have, you could be the cause of an accident by allowing yourself to become distracted behind the wheel.
Practicing these safe driving strategies will improve your ability to respond to the dangers around you and help you avoid putting your fate in the hands of other drivers.
Thinking of Texting While Driving? Think Again.
- Because text messaging requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver, it is by far one of the most alarming distractions.
- Cell phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes each year.
- 1 out of every 4 car accidents in the United States is caused by texting and driving.
- Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent (at 55 mph) of driving the length of an entire football field.