Most of us have to drive on a daily basis, but we frequently forget how risky the job may be. These defensive driving hints will help you drive more safely, safeguard other motorists, and possibly even save some cash.
Defensive Driving: What Is It?
Having a proactive attitude toward safety, anticipating danger, and adhering to safety protocols are all components of defensive driving. Although there is much to think about and be aware of when practicing defensive driving, The Four A’s, developed by Smart Drive USA, provide an easy-to-remember summary:
Four Components of Defensive Driving: Awareness, Alcoholism, Aggression, and Accidents
You never know who you will be driving alongside on the road when you get behind the wheel of your vehicle. You and others are in danger from a number of reckless, hostile, and generally dangerous drivers, but are you one of them?
Most individuals think they drive well, and we frequently accuse other drivers of being dangerous and a threat to other people. Nonetheless, we may find ourselves in hazardous situations as a result of our own driving judgments.
Many drivers are just concerned with getting where they need to go as quickly as possible. Typically, this kind of thinking results in reckless and aggressive driving, which is the issue. The “me first” mentality can lead us to make self-serving, hazardous decisions. While not all facets of defensive driving are covered by these four components, each one touches on a significant facet of traffic safety.
Being aware of your surroundings is one of the greatest and most crucial components of defensive driving. You must be completely aware of everything around you rather than only focusing on what’s in front of you.
Looking not just straight ahead but also in all directions, beside you and behind you, is a part of being a defensive driver. The 12-second search is a rule that is frequently taught in defensive driving courses. You may get a decent sense of what’s going on around you by using the 12-second search. This allows you to see more clearly so that you can safely change lanes or merge into oncoming traffic.
Being aware of your surroundings also allows you to plan ahead for the worst-case scenario and to appropriately react and respond. Many drivers have been behind the wheel since they were teenagers, and although experience does matter, we can become overconfident and lower our guard. People who are not familiar with the road may believe it is safe to divide their focus between driving and other distractions such as passengers, food, makeup, and cell phones.
While maintaining mental attention is the first step in avoiding distractions, there are other useful acts you may take as well, like:
- Preparing your GPS route in advance
- Activating the driving mode on your phone
- Selecting music to listen to when parked
It is risky to drive after consuming any amount of alcohol. Even when your blood alcohol content is below the legal limit, drinking can still impair your reflexes, impair your judgment, and cause your eyesight to become blurry.
Defensive driving is always preferable to playing a game of risk with the permissible blood alcohol percentage. Defensive driving can sometimes mean understanding when it’s best to not drive at all.
Choose a designated driver in advance if you intend to drink. If that doesn’t work, you can find a ride by using any of the several well-known ridesharing applications. Ultimately, the best course of action is to abstain from driving when intoxicated.
Drunk driving is not the only kind of driving you should avoid. Considerations such as driver weariness, illness, and the use of prescription drugs should be made before a motorist gets behind the wheel.
These are some tips to avoid driving aggressively:
- Try your best to use the farthest left lane for passing only
- Avoid honking at people out of frustration; use your horn for emergency situations
- Never flash your lights or tailgate someone from behind
- Don’t respond to aggressive drivers with profanity, yell obscenities, or make improper hand gestures
- Dial 911 if you’re worried about your safety
- Remain composed and control your emotions; pull over to a safe place if your emotions are out of control
- Be prepared and account for delays; being late makes us feel like driving aggressively will make us arrive soon, but this is false.
- Pay attention to how you drive; take care and show consideration
- Try not to set up any circumstances that could lead to provocation
- If you notice irate drivers, give them plenty of space
- Don’t make eye contact with aggressive drivers who appear angry
Avoiding accidents and arriving at your destination is the highest priority each time you get behind the wheel of a car. These are a few considerations to prepare for when operating a motor vehicle.
1. Check the Weather Before You Drive
The dangers of extreme weather, such as hurricanes and blizzards, are well known, but many drivers are unaware of the potential dangers of mild weather, such as light rain. You should adjust your driving style according to the weather. Here are some common tips for driving in different weather conditions.
- Try to avoid driving in the rain
- When using windshield wipers, use your headlights
- If there’s a chance that the road will get slick, give yourself more space to brake
- Watch out for black ice; slow down even though you can’t see any ice on the road
- Be cautious of fog and mist, as they pose a double threat when they solidify on chilly surfaces such as your windshield and the road
- Examine your car on a regular basis, paying attention to the wiper blades and tire condition
2. Drive at or Below the Speed Limit
There are more fatalities or injuries at higher speeds. Although it can be tempting to go faster than the posted speed limit, particularly in situations where there aren’t many other cars around or when you’re “just keeping up with traffic,” doing so significantly increases your chance of suffering a major injury or losing your life while only marginally cutting down on travel time. In actuality, you would only save roughly five minutes if you drove 30 miles at a speed of 10 mph over the posted limit.
3. Remain a Safe Distance Behind Other Cars
Being defensive behind the wheel involves having a mature attitude not only toward yourself but also toward other drivers. You never know when someone else might brake suddenly, decide to merge at the last minute, or get into their own accident. Make sure you always give yourself adequate space to stop in the event that the car in front of you behaves differently than you had anticipated.
Most cities and towns offer defensive driving schools nearby. Safe driving classes are provided by a wide range of organizations, including the National Safety Council, local governments, community colleges, driving schools, and nonprofits. Look for a course in your area to implement these suggestions. If you or a loved one is involved in an accident, contact a Florida auto accident attorney to explore whether you are due any compensation regarding negligence on the part of another driver.