Defensive driving is designed to protect you, your vehicle and your passengers on the road. It’s a technique that requires your full attention while driving, but it could save a life if you get it right. If you want to use defensive driving while you’re behind the wheel, it’s easier to learn than you might think. You likely learned some defensive driving techniques while getting your license, and probably use several of them on the road without realizing. For anyone interested in improving their defensive driving, whether you’ve been driving for years or you’re still learning, the following tips could help you a lot.
Always Be On Guard
Defensive driving is about paying attention to what’s happening around you. You always need to be prepared to react to the moves of other drivers or to anything else on the road. It’s important to be vigilant at all times and avoid being too trusting when it comes to other drivers. For example, if another driver indicates to you that it’s safe for you to proceed, it’s not always a good idea to believe them. They could truly believe that it’s safe for you to go ahead, but it could end in disaster if it turns out that they’re wrong.
Remove Any Distractions
Distracted driving has become a huge problem on the roads, particularly in relation to cell phone use. However, it’s not just texting and talking on the phone that distracts people. Everything from conversations with passengers to distractions outside of your vehicle could draw your attention away from driving. If you want to put defensive driving tactics into place, you should remove as many distractions as possible. Focus entirely on driving, without relying on music or anything else to entertain you when you’re at the wheel. If talking to your passengers distracts you, avoid it until you’re able to stop.
Observe and Plan Ahead
Being observant and thinking a few steps ahead are important techniques for defensive driving. Rather than just reacting in the moment, you should be thinking about what might happen next. That includes not just what you’re doing and where you’re going, but what other drivers are doing and the conditions on the road. You can think about what you can see, what that might mean, and what sort of issues you might anticipate on the road. If it’s garbage collection day, you can expect garbage trucks to be out on the road. If it’s wet, you can expect everyone to be driving a bit slower.
Give Other Vehicles a Wide Berth
Even though you can try to anticipate what other drivers might do, you can never be completely certain. That’s why it’s always best to give yourself as much space around your vehicle to improve your safety. Many truck accident victims find that the accident was caused by the driver’s brake problems, tailgating or poor driver training. While you can’t solve these problems, you can try to avoid them affecting you by staying a good distance away from trucks and other vehicles.
Know When It’s Time to Pull Over
Sometimes, the smartest thing to do to keep yourself and others safe is to pull off the road. This situation might arise if you notice that another driver is behaving erratically or driving unsafely. There might be only so much that you feel you can do to stay safe on the road. An alternative is to find a safe place to pull over and let the driver pass. In some cases, it could even be a good idea to call the police. If you feel that another driver could be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or perhaps is unwell, or is just driving in a dangerous manner, reporting them will help to keep everyone safe.
Learn to Anticipate Other Drivers’ Actions
It’s not always easy to predict what other drivers are going to do next. Everyone behaves differently and has the potential to be completely unpredictable. However, you can improve your skill for anticipating what another driver might do next. Being able to do this will help you to think ahead, although you still need to be prepared to react quickly, in case something unexpected happens. You can make educated guesses about another driver’s actions by watching them closely. Their behavior is likely to follow the same patterns.
Stay Calm, Even When Frustrated
Road rage doesn’t help anyone. It won’t make other drivers behave the way you want them to, and it certainly won’t do you any favors either. It’s not always easy to stay calm when other people are behaving poorly on the road, but it’s one of the smartest things you can do if you’re trying to practice defensive driving. Avoid giving into road rage and try to get out of the way of anyone who is annoying you.
Take Driving Conditions Into Account
It’s always necessary to take the current driving conditions into account. This means both paying attention to the weather and the conditions of the roads, and watching out for things like speed limits and other changes as you’re driving. Many things can make it more difficult to drive safely or require you to adjust your driving, so you always need to be aware of what’s around you.
Take a Defensive Driving Course
If you want to learn how to use defensive driving tactics well, you can take a course in defensive driving. It’s a good choice if you feel that you learn better when instructed by someone else. It’s also a good way to update your driving skills if it’s been a while since you got your license. Some people also choose to take a defensive driving course after they have been in an accident or had something else happen that has knocked their confidence while driving. Learning some defensive driving techniques can help you to feel more confident again and reassure you that you can keep yourself safe on the road.
If you want to drive defensively, you can immediately start putting some of these tips into practice. Anyone can change their driving techniques if they think it will help them.
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