Defensive Driving Tips for Safer Habits
Defensive driving means you’re practicing good driving habits that will help you avoid collision while on the road. You are practicing these habits regardless what others on the road around you are doing, and what current road conditions you’re in. How can you learn how to drive more defensively?
Rules of the Road
This is the most important thing for any driver to do, as it not only helps protect you from accidents, it helps protect the other drivers on the road as well.
Most accidents are caused by at least one driver who is not properly obeying the rules of the road, and could have been easily avoided if the driver had just been following the rules. Before getting in your vehicle to drive, especially long distances, make sure to do a pre-trip inspection, which includes:
- Checking the tires (condition, pressure, etc.)
- Checking the fluids (oil, transmission, power steering, wiper, etc.)
- Checking lights (turn signals, brake lights, headlights, reverse lights, etc.)
This ensures your vehicle is safe enough to take on the road, and helps to avoid a potential collision because of a problem you have on the road.
Whenever you’re behind the wheel, you should:
- Observe the speed limit.
- Keep a safe following distance, of at least two seconds behind the vehicle in front of you. If you’re going faster than 35 mph, increase that distance to four seconds.
- Use turn signals appropriately.
- Obey all traffic signs.
- Keep your eyes on the road.
- Always wear your seat belt.
- Not engage in distracting activities such as eating, smoking, texting, or talking on the phone.
Go Beyond the Rules of the Road
True defensive driving takes things one step further than simply obeying all the rules of the road. You’ll also want to consider the physics of movement and vehicles–factoring in the time it takes you to stop, should the person in front of the person in front of you decide to slam on his or her brakes to avoid an accident. A good rule of thumb is to keep your eyes 12 seconds in front of you. By being aware of what’s going on ahead of you, you can take the necessary action to avoid a collision.
For instance, if the car ahead of the car ahead of you slams its brakes, and the car in front of you is following too closely, this could cause a collision. If you too, are following too closely, this could cause a three car accident. However, by being aware of what’s going on ahead of you and keeping a safe following distance, you can slow down to a stop, without hitting the vehicle in front of you, even if you witness the vehicle in front of you rear-end the one in front of it.
What else can do you?
- Look twice before pulling out.
- Look twice before backing up.
- Remember, if you cannot see the trucker’s face in his or her side mirror, he or she cannot see you!
Take a Defensive Driving Class
This can help you learn how to strengthen your driving skills, which may also even help to lower your auto insurance rates. Talk to your insurance company to see if there are any classes in your area, that will help you qualify for a discount. If not, still consider talking to driving schools around the area, because whether it gets you an insurance discount or not, the information is still good to know.
Driving defensively puts you on alert for potential road hazards. When you drive defensively, you are greatly reducing your risk of being involved in an accident. Statistically, defensive drivers are involved in fewer accidents.