7 Tips for Defensive Driving
Driving defensively isn’t about driving slower than the speed limit. In fact, if you drive slower than the speed limit, you may get a ticket because you can cause accidents by resisting the flow of traffic. The idea behind defensive driving is to prevent an accident before it happens. Often, the trick is not much more complicated than being extra mindful when you’re behind the wheel but there are a few tricks that can ensure your safety. Share these safe driving tips with younger drivers when you can. As easy as they seem, these pointers can save lives.
Keep your eyes on the road.
Defensive driving means staying aware of what’s happening on the road and around you with a quick scan, but you should mostly focus ahead of you. Look forward whenever you’re not changing lanes, at a crossroad or if you’re turning. There are potential hazards ahead, and with your car going 50 miles an hour or more, it’s important that you dodge any potential accidents, objects in the middle of the road or even passengers who may be crossing without much notice. Children and pets are harder to see and often unanticipated so it’s a good idea to keep looking ahead unless you’re turning or switching lanes. This very basic rule is what you’d learn in any defensive driving course so pay heed!
The 3 second rule is still taught at most defensive driving schools, but many drivers get confused when they hear about this (even though they answered the question correctly on their driving test). You can probably get away with 2 seconds, but 3 is ideal for avoiding accidents and pile ons. Now, the question is, how do you use seconds to determine the distance between you and other cars? Just look to your right and find an object, like a sign, a few seconds ahead. Begin counting when the back bumper of the car ahead of you passes the sign. Keep counting until your front bumper crosses it too. Don’t count fast; instead, say “one hundred one, one hundred two, one hundred three,” to make sure you’re keeping adequate space between you. If the weather is bad, go up to 4 seconds.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were nearly 3200 fatalities in 2017 because of distracted driving. The number of accidents caused by distracted driving is much higher. It’s important to avoid texting and playing on social media while driving. You may think you’re taking your eyes off the road for only a second or two, but at 60 miles an hour, 2 seconds is the difference between life and death sometimes. Eating while driving is also another distraction that often leads to accidents. To keep distractions to a minimum, limit the number of passengers you allow in the car. The less activity inside your vehicle, the better. Even in most defensive driving classes you’re also taught to limit the number of people in your car, especially if you are a new driver.
Buckle them up!
Children should always be strapped into their seats. If you’re driving with pets, they must be in their carriers so they do not get out of hand while you’re driving. Never place a child in the passenger seat because if you are in an accident and the airbags are deployed, children can be seriously harmed due to their height and the placement of the airbags.
Change lanes carefully.
There will always be that guy who speeds up when he sees you trying to change lanes. It’s people like this who cause accidents and as you’ve probably already witnessed. You may want to consider letting aggressive drivers pass you simply to get rid of them. It’s not worth it to try to inch your way in if they are coming at you full speed. Chances are that the accident would be the other driver’s fault but do you really want to deal with an accident?
Without going below the speed limit, you should consider slowing down your speed. You are less able to react if you’re going very fast and the accident will be more severe the faster you drive. To give you an example statistic, San Diego accident attorneys say that a few years ago, out of around 19,000 accidents reported, close to 4,200 crashes were speed-related.
Yield if necessary.
What is defensive driving but avoid all conflict on the road, especially if it will otherwise end up in a collision? It hardly matters who’s right or wrong. Yes, we know you came before the other guy who is trying to get ahead instead of merging into your lane. He really looks determined to get his way even though you have the right of way. So, what do you do? Just yield to aggressive drivers like this, who are often the cause of accidents. Remember to breathe, let him pass you and calmly follow while making sure to keep adequate space from him because he might try another crazy move pretty soon..
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