If you are going to be a safe driver, you are going to need to be a defensive driver. What does defensive driving entail? Here’s a little more about how to drive defensively, and why it’s important.
What Is Defensive Driving?
In a sport, defense involves defending the ball from your opponent. In driving, defense involves protecting your car from other people on the road and hazards that present themselves while you are driving. This is important, because no matter how safe you are, you can’t control the actions of others. Defensive driving assumes that a risk is imminent, and takes measures to prevent it, rather than reacting when a problem occurs.
In sports, defensive players are often quite aggressive. This is not the case in driving. Defensive driving is not aggressive driving. It does not mean you are following closely, speeding and swerving in and out of traffic. This type of driving causes one third of all traffic crashes. Instead, defensive driving helps you stay safe and in control, with your mind on what you are doing and what is happening around you.
Defensive Driving Strategies
So how can you be a defensive driver? Consider these strategies:
- Stay focused on what is happening – Driving involves quite a bit of thinking, so continuously think about what is happening around you, where other cars are and what you are doing. Avoid distractions.
- Stay alert – Staying awake and alert is crucial when driving defensively. Do not get on the road if you are tired or under the influence.
- Know what other drivers are or could be doing – Defensive drivers know where the drivers around them are at all times, and are able to anticipate potentially dangerous actions.
- Anticipate the worst – It sounds pessimistic, but it is a good safety principle. As a defensive driver, anticipate the worst possible scenario, and have a plan to avoid an accident should it occur.
- Safety first – Defensive drivers never sacrifice their safety. They leave space between themselves and other drivers, wear their seatbelts and anticipate poor driving from others.
- Stay aware – Defensive drivers scan their mirrors every 30 seconds, knowing where they are and where others are.
- Keep an escape route – Know what the best way out is if you face a dangerous scenario. If you find your escape route is blocked, move.
- Slow down – Stay within the posted speed limit.
- Back up – Keep at least four seconds of space between you and the car in front of you, so you have time to stop if a problem arises.
- Yield anyway – It’s easy to give in to posturing and avoid yielding when you know you have the right-of-way, but is this really worth getting in an accident? If it seems the other driver isn’t going to yield to you, then you yield. A few seconds of time is not worth a severe crash.