11 Defensive Driving Tips
Defensive driving doesn’t mean that you should always be tensed up when you’re behind the wheel of your car. It also doesn’t mean that you are just waiting for an accident to happen.
What it does mean is that you watch out for what other drivers around you are doing, and try to anticipate what they are going to do next. This will give you a better chance of avoiding an accident.
Defensive driving = steering clear of danger and staying safe on the road.
Experience doesn’t make a difference when it comes to who has an accident on the roads and who doesn’t. Even the most skilled drivers can become involved in a crash due to road conditions or other drivers.
Not every motorist drives the same way. Some speed while some actually go too slow, some don’t seem to pay any attention when they’re driving and end up wandering into a different lane. Some tailgate, don’t signal when they turn, weave in and out of traffic, etc.
Not far from where I live, a driver was stopped by police after being seen watching music videos on YouTube whilst driving. The tablet was wedged in behind the steering wheel. Pure stupidity!
Some drivers speed aggressively. Others wander into another lane because they aren’t paying attention. Drivers may follow too closely, make sudden turns without signaling, or weave in and out of traffic.
The fact is, you can’t control the way other people drive but you can control how you react to them. And this is what we are going to be looking at today.
- 1 Never Use Your Phone While Driving
- 2 Pay Attention to Traffic Signs and Lights
- 3 Learn to Drive in All Conditions
- 4 Who Has the Right of Way? Give it Away
- 5 Don’t Trust Other Drivers
- 6 Observe and Anticipate
- 7 Don’t Trust the Indicators, Wait for the Turn
- 8 Don’t Drive Too Close to the Vehicle Ahead
- 9 Driving is Not a Race
- 10 Seat belts are There for a Reason
- 11 Don’t Let the Lion Out
Never Use Your Phone While Driving
This tip, as most of them are, is really common sense. If you are talking on your phone or sending/receiving text messages, your attention is not on the road. In most places it is illegal to use your phone while driving yet it happens every day. If you need to use your phone then do the smart thing and safely pull your vehicle over first.
Pay Attention to Traffic Signs and Lights
So many times people end up speeding or going down the wrong way on one-way streets simply because they “didn’t see the signs.” If you are paying attention to everything around you then you will notice the signs that clearly display the speed limit and will know whether you are going the correct way. Speed plays a big role in defensive driving. Don’t just assume that the car in front is doing the right speed and follow suit. Make sure to obey all traffic lights as well.
Learn to Drive in All Conditions
This is very important for any driver and bad conditions cause a lot of accidents. It is recommended that you avoid driving in bad weather, or even after dark, until you are confident enough in your driving skills. Winter driving is something that you need to be incredibly careful about and practice somewhere you can’t cause an accident.
Who Has the Right of Way? Give it Away
If you come to a stop and are unsure about who has the right of way, the safest thing that you can do is to just let the other drivers have the right of way. The last thing you want is to pull out at the same time another driver is pulling out leaving you wide open for a crash.
Don’t Trust Other Drivers
One of the biggest mistakes that you can make is to trust that other drivers will be careful on the roads. If someone flashes their headlights, many people assume that they are letting them know that it is safe to go. While this may be true in some cases, hold back. The Highway Code states that flashing your headlights is the same as sounding your horn. It means “I’m here”. It doesn’t mean “Come on through”.
Observe and Anticipate
Defensive driving is about doing three things:
- Being observant
- Anticipating problems, and
- Planning ahead
Observation is simply about what you see. From what you see, what problems could that mean for you? And from that to what you’re going to do about it to stay safe. As an example, if you see that all the dustbins are out then there could be a lorry right around the corner. So, you should slow down on the bend.
Don’t Trust the Indicators, Wait for the Turn
I have seen cars going before where the driver didn’t even realise that they had their indicators on. I have also seen drivers indicate one way but turn the opposite way. Simply put, don’t trust the indicators of the car ahead but wait until you actually see the car turning.
Don’t Drive Too Close to the Vehicle Ahead
If you drive too close and the car in front slams the brakes on, what’s going to happen? You’re going to crash straight into the back of them. Keep enough space around your car to give yourself room to manoeuvre when others make mistakes. You can give the road 100 percent of your concentration but you don’t know what the other drivers are doing and that car coming towards you could be messing around with their phone.
Use the 3- to 4-second rule to help you establish and maintain a safe following distance and provide adequate time for you to brake to a stop if necessary. Remember though that this rule only works in normal traffic under good weather conditions. In bad weather you should increase your following distance an additional second for each condition such as rain, fog, nighttime driving, or when following a large truck or motorcycle.
Driving is Not a Race
If that car behind you is tailgating or driving erratically, pull over and let them pass when it is safe for you to do so. Driving is not a race, it is about being safe.
Seat belts are There for a Reason
Many car accident fatalities could be prevented every year if the driver of the vehicle and their passengers would just use their seat belts. According to The National Safety Council, seat belts reduce your risk of injury in a crash by 50 percent.
Don’t Let the Lion Out
You are going to get cut off at some point by some idiot in another vehicle that probably wasn’t paying attention. It can be easy to get angry but you don’t know who is behind the wheel of that vehicle. Just back away and let them go. Believe it or not, road rage has led to murder many times in the past. If you suspect that another driver may be drunk, stay away, and alert the authorities as soon as it is safe to do so.
To take your defensive driving up a notch, we recommend that you look into defensive driving classes that are available in your area.