Everyone hears the term defensive driving used on a regular basis, but what are the actual steps that ensure you are driving defensively? Being a defensive driver means embracing a particular set of standards on top of your normal habits. Here are nine tips to help you form good defensive driving habits:
Reduce Lane Changes:
It is relatively uncommon for a car to be rear-ended when it is traveling the speed limit in its own lane. Accidents most frequently occur when you are in the process of changing lanes, whether it is cutting off a car or swiping another vehicle due to one being in your blind spot. By only going with one lane throughout the majority of your trip, you do not have to worry as much about causing accidents on the highway.
Do Not Make Eye Contact
Often road rage incidents happen when drivers make eye contact with one another, and a situation escalates. Being a defensive driver, you should understand that aggressive drivers often try to initiate trouble, and it is wisest to avoid eye contact or reacting in any way. When someone starts to tailgate you and starts honking, simply drive on without engaging them.
Stay Away from Bad Drivers
If you notice someone driving without regard to the normal standards of etiquette, you should keep as much distance as possible between you and them. Whether it is frequent lane changers, very slow drivers, tailgaters, someone who is texting, or any combination of the above, leave plenty of space so that if they do make a mistake you will not be anywhere near them.
Never Follow Too Closely
Do not tailgate the car in front of you. You should provide at least four seconds of buffer room between you and them. If you have a larger vehicle, it is smarter to leave more room because it will take you longer to come to a complete stop. You want to be as prepared as possible in the off chance there is a panic stop in the lane ahead of you, as this will give the driver behind you ample time to stop as well.
Get Rid of Distractions:
Frequently, the person who can cause you the greatest amount of harm when driving is yourself. Whether it is eating, talking on a cellphone, music, or passengers, distractions often cause you to have an accident. Distractions are one of the leading causes of car crashes on the road.
Look Both Ways at Intersections
Intersections can be a naturally dangerous place because of the occurrence of “T-bone” accidents, where the front of one truck or car crashes into the side of another. If you are stopped at a red light, and then floor the accelerator and go the second the light turns green, chances are significantly increased for anyone running a red light to hit you. Take your time when the light changes and double check the cars have stopped before you move out into the intersection.
High Eyes Driving
This form of driving is when you are only watching the car in front of you instead of maintaining focus on the situation around you. The biggest problem with this approach is that if the driver in front of you is not paying attention and stops rapidly, you might not have adequate time to brake. It would be helpful to the driver behind you to have sufficient lighting on the back of your vehicle, so you are visible.
Look Out for Fast Lane Changers
While you may not be a frequent lane changer, it is crucial that you are conscious of the drivers who are. It is easy to identify these drivers, because they always make dangerous darts in and out of traffic to get as far through traffic as possible. Check your side and rear view mirrors regularly to take proper precautions when they are in the lane next to you or behind you. Keep the same speed or slow down if you have to, if you think that they are planning on cutting in front of you. Never try to teach them a lesson by speeding up ahead and boxing them in. It is never a smart decision to have an aggressive driver with road rage driving right behind you.
Spot Blind Lane Changers
Another serious concern is that of drivers who do not check their blind spot before they change into your lane. It can be extremely hard to predict when these drivers will change lanes, so it is best to avoid having anyone in your blind spot to begin with. If you ever find yourself in another car’s blind spot, you can speed up or slow down enough that, no matter what, your vehicle is safe from sideswipes.