What is defensive driving?
How do you drive defensively? Simply put, “defensive driving” is a set of driving skills that help you deal with dangers on the road in the best way possible. Most of us think of sports or martial arts before driving when we hear the word “defense.” But most of us probably don’t think of defensive driving in these terms. However, it is a very important way to protect yourself.
With defensive driving, you can protect yourself from drunk drivers, crazy drivers, bad weather, and anything else that could go wrong on the road. In other words, defensive driving means to hope for the best but be ready for the worst.
Defensive driving details
So, how does one exactly drive in a safe way? Here are some tips, but the Department of Motor Vehicles websites of many states also offer online defensive driving courses that can help you improve your driving skills, stay a safer driver, and, most importantly, avoid getting a traffic ticket or getting into an accident.
Plan your trip ahead of time, and be ready for the unexpected.
Before you leave the house, you should always know how busy the roads are and what the weather is like. If you think ahead like this, you can plan your drive better and avoid trouble spots.
It’s always a good idea to leave early as well. Even if you are always on time, you might want to leave a few minutes early. If you get on the road early, you’re less likely to get angry at other drivers who speed or tailgate you.
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Slow down and put on the brakes
There are speed limits for a reason. You don’t want to drive too slowly, which is also dangerous and can slow down traffic. Instead, you want to stay as close as you can to the speed limit. When you’re going faster, it’s much harder to stop in time to avoid an accident, and you’re much more likely to lose control of your car. Protect yourself and other people on the road by stopping early, driving at a safe speed, and keeping a safe distance from the car in front of you.
Expect mistakes from other drivers.
You and every other driver on the road are just people. Everyone makes mistakes, but mistakes made at high speeds can be very expensive. You can’t control what other drivers do, but you can try to guess what they will do.
This means that you should never assume that other drivers will do what they should. For example, you should wait a moment after your light turns green at an intersection before driving through. Even if other cars have red lights, that doesn’t always mean they’ll stop. If another driver runs a red light, giving yourself an extra second as a safety cushion can help you avoid a crash.
It might sound crazy, but if you’re always on the lookout for cars that swerve into your lane, run red lights or stop signs, don’t give way at intersections, have road rage, or just drive erratically, you and other drivers will be much safer than if you just assume everyone will do what they should.
Stay alert, stay away from distractions, and take care.
The first step in defensive driving is to take the most basic safety measures. Make sure everyone else in your car is also wearing a seatbelt. Make sure that your windshield wipers work well enough so that you can see well in the rain. If you need to use your windshield wipers while driving, make sure your headlights are also on. Make sure your tires have the right amount of air in them and that your safety inspection is always up to date.
Avoiding distractions is another part of defensive driving. Your full attention should be on driving. If you have pets in the car with you, keep them safe by using pet seat belts or carriers. Even if you’re running late to work, don’t try to brush your hair, shave, or put on makeup while driving. You won’t have time, and it’s not worth it. When driving at night with other people in the car, don’t be afraid to ask them to turn down the volume or turn off bright electronics. And most importantly, please do not text and drive.
Lastly, never fall asleep at the wheel. Part of driving defensively is knowing when you shouldn’t be on the road at all. If you’re too tired or too drunk to drive, stay off the road to keep yourself and other people safe.
How to drive safely SCALE
The acronym S.C.A.L.E. is a good way to remember some of the most important parts of defensive driving.
Space: Leave enough room between you and the car in front of you. So, you have time to act.
Communication: Use signals to turn and merge, and let others turn and merge before you do.
Alert: Don’t eat or drink, and especially don’t use a cell phone, while you’re driving.
Keep an eye on the road and the cars around you, and don’t drive in blind spots.
Expect – Always assume that other drivers will make mistakes, and never make assumptions about their goals.
If you keep a safe distance between cars, talk to other drivers, stay alert, keep an eye out, and expect the unexpected, you greatly reduce your chances of getting into a crash and make it much more likely that you and other drivers will get to your destinations safely.
Advantages of safe driving
We hope that by now it’s clear that safety is the most important reason to drive defensively. Your top priority should always be to keep yourself, your passengers, and other drivers safe.
Not only can defensive driving save lives, but it can also save you money. Drivers who have been in or caused few or no accidents will pay much less for car insurance than drivers who have been in or caused accidents.