The following is a list of the most important defensive driving techniques you will learn:
Defensive driving relies on paying attention to everything that is happening around you from the conditions of the road to the weather to what other drivers or even pedestrians are doing. If you pay attention to what is around you, you can accurately predict what scenarios are most likely to happen.
Follow The Traffic Laws
This might seem obvious, but the average person breaks multiple traffic laws every time they drive from speeding to rolling through stop signs to seatbelt violations and more.
Traffic laws were put into place to keep everyone on the road safe. Always follow the rules of the road and always pay attention to and follow the directions posted on road signs.
Following the law is the best way to avoid an accident and it can be easily done by simply paying attention and being aware of your surroundings.
Do Not Trust Other Drivers
You can be the best driver in the World, but you can’t control those who are driving around you. Other drivers present the biggest threat on the road.
Many drivers are not skilled, may be impaired, or just don’t care about the safety of those they are driving around.
So pay close attention to what they are doing at all times and never trust that they will automatically follow the rules of the road and make smart decisions while driving.
Yield To Other Drivers
Don’t be the driver that forces and bullies their way around. Make it a habit to yield to other drivers, even in cases where those drivers are not following the law. It is better to yield to another driver then get into a collision. For example, if someone is tailgating you, it probably makes more sense to move over and let them pass.
Do Not Drive Impaired
We all know you should never drive when you are drunk, tired, or on any medications or drugs because these can impair your driving, reducing your ability to focus and inhibiting your reaction time.
Strangely enough, even though we all know that, impaired driving is the number one cause of accidents.
The number of people killed each year due to drunk driving is staggering, so while this is some obvious advice, many of our fellow motorists don’t care. Don’t be one of those people.
No matter how much of a hurry you are in or how fun it is to open up on the open road, speeding is more dangerous than most drivers realize.
Speed limits are posted only after thorough research has been done. Things such as side streets, driveways, proximity to places where children congregate, blind curves and hills all play a role in what a proper speed limit is.
Speeding isn’t only dangerous, but it could also cost you. Speeding tickets, traffic school, and civil lawsuits from an accident you caused can really add up.
Stop For 2 Full Seconds At Stop Signs
Intersections are very dangerous places and where most accidents happen.
So besides being illegal, running a red light or a stop sign is incredibly dangerous. You should always stop for 2 full seconds at a stop sign.
Why? When you are in a moving vehicle, there is a perception that your vehicle has stopped when it really hasn’t.
Often times, people think they have stopped when they really haven’t and are shocked when they receive a traffic ticket. By stopping for a full 2 seconds, you ensure that you have indeed come to a complete stop.
Stay Calm & Control Your Emotions During Stressful Situations
There are many factors on the road that can stress out drivers. Poor driving conditions, rush hour, and bad drivers can lead to increased tensions.
However being stressed out is a form of distracted driving. It reduces your ability to pay attention to your surroundings and your reaction time.
Also never get behind the wheel when you are upset or stressed out, wait until you are calm.
Make sure you know exactly what you are doing on the road and where you are going. If you drive deliberately and with intent you are less likely to make the unpredictable changes that can cause a collision.
Many drivers doubt themselves or are so timid they make their driving worse. If you are a student driver don’t get in a rush to get that license. Practice until you are comfortable and confident behind the wheel.
Share The Road
There are other drivers on the road, so do not try to hog the road. Instead allow other drivers to use the road legally. This includes bicyclists and pedestrians as well as slower moving vehicles like trucks, busses, and maintenance vehicles. Roadways are used for many different purposes, so share responsibly.
Communicate With Other Drivers
Always make sure other drivers know your intentions. There are more ways to communicate with other drivers than just using your turn signals.
You can make eye contact, wave other drivers the right-of-way, and position your vehicle in ways that show your intent. If other drivers understand your intentions there are fewer ways things can go wrong.
However, you should always be sure not to put another driver in harms way and you always need to protect yourself even if someone waves you the right-of-way. Don’t blindly pull out into traffic just because someone else told you to. That is a recipe for disaster.
Do Not Drive Distracted
Distracting driving is incredibly dangerous. Once again, most drivers already know this, and yet every single day there are deaths due to distracted driving. Stay off your cell phone, do not text, eat, smoke, or apply makeup while driving. Do not play with the radio or talk with your passengers when you should be paying attention to the road. Do not daydream or let your mind wonder. Stay present and focus on driving.
Check Your Blindspots
Learn where the blind spots are on your car and try to aim the sideview mirrors toward them as best as you check.
Before changing lanes or making turns always make sure you look at the entire area around your car including your blind spots before turning.
Also be sure to understand where blind spots are on other vehicles such as large trucks so you can stay out of those areas.
Use Caution At Intersections
Intersections are incredibly dangerous. Make sure that you always observe the entire intersection before arriving.
Signal your intentions, check all directions, and then proceed with caution.
Do not rush out into an intersection when the light turns green and never blindly enter an intersection just because you have the right-of-way. Always check for cross traffic and be aware of your surroundings.
Give Other Drivers Space
Keep a good distance between yourself and the driver in front of you. Allow other drivers space to change lanes or pass. That way if you have to make a sudden stop you do not rear end them. Giving other drivers a lot of space also helps to give you an out in case an emergency maneuver is needed.
Let Tailgaters Pass
If you are following the speed limit and driver behind you is anxious to go faster, do not speed up. Instead let them pass. There is no reason to put yourself at risk because they are in a hurry.
If you are on a road without a passing lane, find the closest safe place to pull over or off the roadway. If you are on a road with passing lanes, move over to another lane and allow them to pass. Tailgaters aren’t just a nuisance, they are a very real driving hazard that you need to distance yourself from.
Be Aware Of Road Conditions BEFORE You Leave
Along your regular driving routes, watch the road for potholes, divots, and cracks that can impede your driving. Also pay attention to any areas that frequently have road debris or trash.
Make a mental note of those locations and be extra cautious. If you’re taking a longer trip, make sure you check roadway weather reports and construction reports along your route so you can plan accordingly.
Beware of Weather Conditions
The only way to remain safe during poor weather conditions is to not drive at all. However, if you must drive, it is important to be prepared.
A vehicle should only be driven in poor weather conditions if it is properly maintained and able to do so safely.
You should also leave early and give yourself plenty of time to arrive at your location so you are not rushed.
Also, if you do plan on driving in poor weather, be sure to have the proper equipment needed for an emergency such as dry clothing, water, food, rain gear, hats, jackets, etc. People have been stranded for hours in their vehicles even in major cities.
Stay In The Correct Lane
Do not swerve or drive into other lanes. When on the highway, always use the right lane for exiting and the left lane for passing.
Most states have laws against driving in the left (passing) lane on the expressway if you are not passing another vehicle.
You should also move over for any emergency vehicles on the shoulder of the roadway to give them as much room as possible.
If all vehicles are traveling at about the same speed, accidents are far less likely to occur. Drastic changes in driving speed between drivers causes many chain reaction events that lead to accidents.
It is always a good idea to try to match the speed of drivers around you. This does NOT give you an excuse to speed if everyone else is speeding, but as a general rule, you should try to match your speed as best as possible.
The Importance of Defensive Driving
What’s the use of sharing all these defensive driving tips if you don’t practice them? It will be useless. Perhaps if I reiterate the importance of defensive driving, you’ll think twice about ignoring these rules.
So here I am. I’m not going to be preachy, but let me share some of the things I learned after years of practicing defensive driving.
But first, let us be clear. A defensive driver does not just concentrate on his or her driving skills and practices. Defensive drivers are aware of their surroundings so they can pinpoint potential hazards. More importantly, he or she anticipates how other road users, drivers or pedestrians, will act. This enables them to prepare and take proactive action to avoid an incident before it is too late.
When you’re on the road, you cannot be sure how other drivers and pedestrians will react. You can trust them to make good decisions and leave your and your loved one’s safety in their hands. And sometimes, all you need is that little time to react, which is only possible if you have maintained that safe following distance throughout.
This also brings me to another point – of making other drivers aware of your intentions at all times. It takes just one signal to ensure you’re safe before you turn or change lanes. You’re not only saving yourself here, but you’re also taking one step in ensuring the safety of those who share the road with you.
Being a defensive driver may not be that important to you now. But what if, just what if, you find yourself in a situation when you can save other people’s lives just by following the tips I’ve shared about. Think about it.
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