People are always advising the use of "defensive driving" as being the key to driving safely, but really, what does that mean? If "defensive driving" is the key to avoiding becoming a statistic and Departments of Motor Vehicles tout it as being essential before you get your driver's license, it's among the most important things you must know to become a safe driver, then shouldn't everyone understand what that means?
What is "defensive driving," and how does it keep you and everyone else on the road around you safer? In point of fact, defensive driving is an alternative to most drivers who are reluctant to drive without supervision. Because it lessens the natural fear that many drivers have, it reduces the chances of getting involved in a car accident.
Driving defensively is all about anticipating what other drivers may do and reacting to it. It doesn’t mean you should always feel tense about the potential threats on the road. It just means you should drive cautiously while keeping full control of your vehicle. That means anticipating the reaction of other drivers. You should be aware that more than 38,000 die on U.S. roads every year. By driving defensively, you are taking preventive actions that reduce your risk and the risk of others driving near you.
Here are 5 defensive driving tips that all drivers should be aware of whenever they decide to hit the road to drive anywhere.
#1 Put down your phone while driving
Even if you get an important text or call while driving along, you have to ask yourself how important it is for you to reply immediately to that text or call? Unless the call is life-changing, the answer is, it can wait. If you are using your cell phone while driving, you won’t be paying full attention to your driving and you certainly won't be paying sufficient attention to the other drivers around you. Too many people underestimate the risk of using cell phones while driving, but they are extremely distracting. If you really need to reply to that important text or answer that urgent call, wait until you find a safe place to park and then do so. Make the whole situation simple and safe.
#2 Pay Attention To All Traffic Signs While Driving
It is vitally important that all defensive drivers pay attention to all traffic signs and signals. After all, they that were put on the road for a reason, after significant research into the best ways to direct drivers to operate their vehicles safely. One of the keys to defensive driving is in making sure your driving is predictable by others, and the best way to stay predictable is to follow the signs and signals exactly.
Also, remember, you should never follow what the driver or drivers ahead of you are doing. What if the other driver is ignoring the road signs or is not the road signs. He may be driving irresponsibly and that could get you involved in a car accident.
Always follow those traffic signs to avoid any potential threat of a car accident.
#3 Keep Your Distance From The Vehicle In Front Of You
A key aspect of driving defensively comes with making yourself aware of the vehicles around you. That includes focusing on how close your vehicle is to the car ahead of you and always make sure you are at a safe enough distance to stop safely. Sometimes, it is necessary to come to a fast stop and there may not be enough room for you to brake safely.
It’s your responsibility to keep your distance and avoid rear-end crashes. A good rule of thumb is to make sure there are at least two car lengths between your car and the car ahead of you. Getting involved in a rear-end accident, even if it wasn’t your fault, could increase your auto insurance rate and other liabilities.
#4 Become Proficient at Driving In All Weather Conditions
It is not unusual for relatively new drivers to be hesitant about driving in bad weather, or even driving at night. If you are worried about driving in those conditions, defensive driving demands that you try not to drive until you have sufficient confidence to do so. In the meantime, you can drive with supervision until you are more confident in your skills. Practice in different weather conditions, and practice in safe places where there’s no risk to get into a car accident, like huge, empty parking lots.
#5 Always Concede The Right Of Way To Other Vehicles In Difficult Situations
Anyone who has taken a defensive driving course has had an instructor tell them what they should do at every 4-way stop. First, you count from 1 to 3, then you watch out for any pedestrian or vehicle around, then keep driving cautiously. This is sage advice for defensive driving in almost every situation. Always cede the right of way, even if you're not sure who has it. There are many situations in which it is hard to know who has the right of way, which means it's always better to simply assume the other drivers have the right of way and let them go first.
If you are cautious and you pay attention to the other vehicles around you, and you also anticipate the reaction of other drivers at complicated situations, you are driving defensively and you will likely be much safer than those who drive more aggressively.