Defensive driving goes beyond the basics of motor vehicle operation on public roadways. By drivers being proactive in their use of mirrors, headlights, and seatbelts, and by using their concentration skills to focus on the constant changing view around them, defensive driving can be applied behind the wheel. As a defensive driver, you can avoid crashes and help lower your risk behind the wheel.
On the roads, in real life, not everyone drives well. Many people can be caught people speeding, wandering into another lane because they aren’t paying attention, following too closely, making sudden turns without signaling, or weaving in and out of traffic.
These aggressive drivers can be seen as potential hazards. Distracted driving is becoming more of a problem as people multitask by talking on the phone, texting, or eating. You can’t control the driving habits of the drivers around you, but by practicing defensive driving can avoid the accidents caused by other people’s distracted driving.
When behind the wheel of a car, there are many factors that can help you stay in control.
Make sure, you are focused. Driving is considered a thinking task, and you have to focus on many things while behind the wheel: road conditions, speed and position, observing traffic laws, signs and signals, following directions, being aware of the cars around you, checking your mirror, etc. Distractions, like texting or putting on makeup, decreases a driver’s ability to see potential problems and react to them properly. Staying focused on driving, while driving, is the only true way to be paying full attention.
Also, be sure to stay alert. Being alert helps you to react quickly to potential problems. Alcohol or drugs can affect a driver’s reaction time and judgment. Driving while drowsy has the same effect. Before going behind the wheel make sure you are well rested, and not trying to complete any other tasks in order to drive your best and defensively.
When you drive defensively, you are aware and ready for any situation. You are cautious, and ready to take any action that prevents you from putting your fate in the hands of other drivers. Several factors can help this defensive driving attitude. Always make safety the first thing on your mind. Make sure to avoid any distracted or inattentive driving tendencies, so you only have to deal with other people’s bad driving. Make sure to leave plenty of space between you and the car in front of you, lock your doors and wear your seatbelt. Make sure you are not depending on other drivers to protect your safety. Do not assume another driver is going to move out of the way or allow you to merge. Always plan your movements, while anticipating the worst scenario. May factors play into the defensive driving, some being more complex that others. Common sense has a place in the idea of defensive driving. Always be aware of your surroundings, and pay attention. Constantly check your mirrors, and scan the road ahead of you.
Always keep your eyes moving, as everything around you is moving. If a vehicle is showing the signs of a distracted driver, slow down or pull over to avoid them. Also, always keep an eye out for bicyclists, runners, pedestrians, pets and children. The one aspect of defensive driving that people know the most is to keep your speed down. Posted speed limits only apply to ideal road conditions. It is the driver’s responsibility to make sure their speed matches the conditions of the roads. Also, higher speeds make controlling your vehicle more difficult. To maintain control of your vehicle you must control not only your speed but pay attention to your surroundings.
In all driving situations, it is important to avoid potential dangers. You can do this by always having an escape route. It is a good idea to position your vehicle where you have the best chance of seeing and being seen. Having an alternative path is essential, so always consider other vehicles around you while driving. Make sure to always leave yourself an out, just in case your path of travel is immediately blocked. Make sure to, also, follow the 3 to 4 second rule. Using this rule will help decrease your chances of a collision, by helping you maintain a safe following distance and to provide adequate time to stop or slow down. The 3 to 4 second rule only applies in perfect road conditions, however. In bad weather, such as fog, rain or snow, make sure to increase your following distance. When faced with multiple risks, make sure to manage them one at a time. Your goal is to avoid overwhelming yourself, and causing you to be a distracted driver.
Driving requires your full attention, and by eliminating distractions you can focus on the road in front of you. Make sure to store any loose items that could roll around in the car, so you do not feel tempted to reach for them on the floor or the seat while driving. Make sure to secure any children or pets, also. If they need your attention while you are driving, make sure to pull safely off the road to care for them. Reaching into the backseat can cause you to lose control of your vehicle. Make sure to adjust any items before you start driving. Put the address in your GPS, send a text, and fix seats, mirrors, and the radio all before you start driving. Try to decide on your route and check traffic conditions before you even start the car. And remember that if any other activity demands your attention, instead of trying to do it while driving, pull off the road and stop your vehicle in a safe place.
Distracted driving put not only you, but also others at risk. Defensive driving is the only way to decrease not only the risk you bring to others, but the one they bring to you. By practicing the main components of distracted driving you make the roadway safer for everybody. Defensive driving will help you not only decrease the risk of you getting in an accident, but will help lower your own personal risk behind the wheel.