It is almost a given that everyone will be involved in some sort of car accident if they’ve been driving for any period of time. These incidents can be as minor as a fender bender or as major as a twenty car pileup, but hopefully most people only experience the former. It is important to be a safe driver while out on the road to prevent these accidents, but learning to drive defensively will also go a long way in avoiding these occurrences. By following just a few simple rules, all drivers can mitigate their risk of experiencing any type of automobile crash.
Avoid any Distractions
The first step to driving defensively is avoiding any distractions. It is hard for a person to pay attention to what is going on around them and react effectively if they are concentrating on anything other than their own driving. Around two-thirds of car and light truck accidents are caused by driving fatigued, speeding and inattentiveness, so it is imperative for a person to focus all of their attention on the task at hand.
Cell phones are one of the most common distractions a person can engage in. People who are using the texting feature of their phone have been found to be just as likely to have an accident as a person who is drunk behind the wheel. Avoiding using a cell phone altogether while driving is the best advice a person can take. It’s also pertinent to avoid eating, drinking and rummaging for things in the back seat.
Notice Warning Signs
Noticing when others are distracted or even intoxicated behind the wheel is vital in maintaining safety and avoiding accidents. Drivers who are swerving or straddling lanes are either not paying attention to their driving or inebriated, and it is important to avoid either of these two types of drivers. An individual should keep a safe distance behind these vehicles if the neglectful drivers are in front of them, and they should never try to pass them.
Drunk drivers will sometimes use people in front of them as a guide to stay on the road. If it becomes obvious that a driver behind someone is likely intoxicated, then it is a good idea to pull into a parking lot or onto a side road to allow the possibly inebriated driver to pass. It is also possible to tell if a driver is intoxicated if they are going too fast or slow for conditions, making excessively wide or sharp turns or applying their brakes at inappropriate times (ie. green lights).
Most drivers don’t purposefully sideswipe or rear end other vehicles; these accidents are often caused because that driver didn’t see the other vehicle or know what its driver was doing. This can usually be avoided by ensuring that all headlights and brake lights are working correctly. Properly working brake lights are easily one of the most important factors in avoiding a rear end collision.
Working lights, however, are not the only way drivers need to stay visible. It is also pertinent for an individual to engage in behaviors that will make sure they are noticed by other drivers. Always using turn signals is an easy way to accomplish this. It is also a good idea to avoid staying in another driver’s blind spot. Being one lane over and slightly behind another car likely puts a person in a blind spot, so that driver should either speed up or slow down to remove themselves from that area.
Adapt for Varying Road Conditions
A great number of people are surprised when they receive speeding tickets even when they were not exceeding the posted speed limit. These citations are often referred to as ‘driving too fast for conditions’. It doesn’t matter that a driver is under the posted speed limit if that limit is unsafe for driving at the time. This law exists because it is important to adjust to different road conditions.
One mistake that many people make is not slowing down when it begins to rain. Most people don’t realize that even a light sprinkle can make a road excessively slick due to the oil that accumulates on the asphalt. Other drivers may not adapt their driving for specific conditions, so it is also important for a driver to be even more alert to what’s going on around them if inclement weather or some other road hazard has occurred. This will increase the amount of time a person has to react if something unexpected suddenly occurs.
Engaging in defensive driving techniques is one of the best ways that a person can protect themselves and lessen their chances of being involved in an accident. Most people out on the roads today haven’t taken the time to read online articles on how to drive safely and defensively, so they are far more likely to engage in behaviors that can sometimes lead to serious tragedies. Knowing just a few defensive driving tactics will allow an individual to avoid and react to these dangerous drivers.