7 Defensive Driving Tips for Staying Safe on the Road

Posted on: November 20, 2019

Defensive Driving Tips - Staying Safe on the Road

Since the mid-1940s, there have been more than 30,000 fatal motor vehicle crashes every year. These accidents are caused by issues ranging from faulty vehicle parts to drunk driving. And the worst part is that a large portion of these accidents could have been prevented.

Whether you are taking a road trip or commuting to work, more often than not you’ll be taking a car or truck to get you there. No matter what your next destination is, learning defensive driving tips will help you get there as safely as possible.

What Is Defensive Driving?

Being a defensive driver involves more than simply following traffic laws and knowing how to drive. It integrates key defensive driving techniques, which can help you avoid accidents and anticipate risks.

If you have ever wondered, “What is defensive driving?”, you’ve probably wondered how being a defensive driver can help.

To do this effectively, you’ll need to understand the effects of weather conditions, traffic, and your surroundings. By being aware of what’s going on around you and managing risks, you can avoid accidents on the road.

Top Tips for Defensive Driving

1. Pay Attention

One of the best defensive driving tips is to just pay attention. As one of the biggest causes of motor vehicle accidents, people who are driving distracted don’t see important things happening in front of them until it is too late.

You could ram into the vehicle in front of you if you look away from the road and don’t notice traffic slowing down.

To avoid dangerous accidents while driving:

  • Put away your smartphone and any mobile devices while you are driving.
  • If you are feeling tired, pull over and take a nap.
  • Don’t daydream, apply makeup, eat or smoke while driving.

2. Scan Your Surroundings

People often get into accidents without realizing the danger was there until after the crashed has already occurred. This is especially common when the other car pulls out of a side road, leaving you to have to quickly respond or risk getting hit on that side of your vehicle.

There should never be a time when it feels like a car appears out of nowhere. One way to prevent this from happening is by constantly scanning intersections, your mirrors, and everything around you. If you constantly scan the area in front of and around you, you’ll be able to avoid getting T-boned at an intersection.

Tailgating / Driving closely behind other drivers

3. Don’t Follow Too Closely

Too many fender benders happen simply because someone is driving too close to the car in front of them.

One of the most critical tips for defensive driving is to keep plenty of room between you and the next vehicle. Otherwise, you could end up rear-ending them if they have to stop suddenly.

Instead, try to keep at least two car lengths between your car and the car in front of you. If you are driving in snow or ice, leave even more room as you will need additional time to stop.

4. Start Braking Early

A defensive driver pays attention to their surroundings and also prepares for upcoming obstacles. To achieve this goal, it’s a good idea to brake early as opposed to waiting until the last second. When you brake early, it gives you and the car behind you more time to stop.

Even with the latest braking technology, it still takes time to come to a complete stop. Normally, it will take two to three times as long to stop as it takes for someone to decide to apply the brake. Because of this, you need to plan ahead if you want to give the person behind you time to realize they need to stop as well.

5. Predict Risks

When you see a vehicle swerving on the road ahead of you, you have to decide the best way to minimize your potential risks.

One of the best defensive driving tips is to avoid these types of risky situations. Whether you see a drunk driver or loose materials in an open truck, it may be time to slow down and give yourself some extra space behind them.

In the case of the potentially drunk driver or open truck, the defensive driving techniques you choose may even involve avoiding the situation entirely.

You could turn onto a different road or move into a lane that gives you enough room to pass safely. At the next exit, you could even pull over and call the highway patrol to report the dangerous situation.

As a defensive driver, your goal is to spot traffic risks and hazards, predicting what could happen if you don’t take action as well as if you do. Once you decide on the best option, take action to avoid potential risks.

Aggressive Driving / Offensive Driving

6. Don’t Go on the Offensive

Another one of the best tips for defensive driving is to avoid the opposite tactic: offensive driving.

Cutting people off, riding the bumper of the car in front of you, and taking your attention off the road to yell at someone are all hazardous practices that could easily lead to accidents.

Road rage may start with one person’s hostility and anger, but it can quickly spread to other drivers causing further issues.

You never know how other drivers will respond to aggressive driving, so play it safe, avoid responding to road rage by driving defensively and allowing offensive drivers to have the right of way.

7. Be Wary of Tailgaters

Getting rear-ended is always dangerous, but it is especially hazardous if it occurs on the highway or freeway. You should never count on a tailgater to pay enough attention to avoid an accident.

As a part of driving defensively, you should be taking active steps to avoid situations where someone might tailgate you.

You can’t always control what other people decide to do, but defensive driving tips can help you mitigate risks. Once you notice someone tailgating you, switch lanes when it is safe. If you aren’t able to change lanes, tap your brakes to warn the tailgating vehicle you will slow down and allow them to pass.

Keep in mind, sometimes there is nothing you can do because of traffic or the number of lanes. If you can’t change lanes or slow down, pull off the road whenever it is safe for the tailgater to pass you.

Make Streets a Safer Place by Being a Defensive Driver

These defensive driving tips could save your life or the life of someone you love. By becoming a defensive driver, you can make the roads safer for everyone.

And while you might already be a defensive driver, not everyone follows the same strategy. If an offensive driver has damaged your vehicle, Todd’s Auto Body can help you repair it. Give us a call today at (217) 431-7209 or visit our shop to get a free estimate!

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