Little boy with driving goggles and cap in a dapper suit vest driving a red soap box car

Tips for Defensive Driving

If you know anything about defensive driving, you know that it’s one of the most effective ways to stay safe out on the road. Driving presents countless hazards—some are avoidable and some are not. However, the more you practice defensive driving techniques, the more you’ll be ready for anything behind the wheel.

Read on to learn some tips for defensive driving.

How to Drive Defensively

The following are defensive driving techniques to help you stay safe on the road:

  • Be alert. Don’t ever drive when you’re tired, hungry, or intoxicated. When you’re driving, it’s crucial that you’re able to maintain sharp alertness. The roads present all sorts of unexpected challenges, so you need to be ready for anything at any time.

  • Be focused. Since driving primarily relies on your thought processes, it’s crucial that you maintain effective focus while out on the road. If you’re unfocused, you won’t be able to react to unexpected changes quickly enough to avoid an accident. While driving, you have many things to consider, such as the following (among others):

    • Road conditions
    • Your speed and location
    • Traffic laws
    • Signs
    • Signals
    • Road marks
    • Following directions
    • Awareness of what’s happening around you
    • Checking your mirrors
  • Expect mistakes. No one is perfect, which means people make all sorts of mistakes all the time. Most of the time, people are relatively predictable, so you’ll be able to guess what people will do before they do it if you’re paying enough attention. For example, if you see someone flying down the road toward a street light that’s about to turn red, it’s a pretty sure bet that person will run the red light. It’s crucial you’re paying attention at all times, even when you’re stopped at a red light so that you’re able to recognize these mistakes before they happen. If you’re not paying attention and enter an intersection when someone is about to run a red light, you could end up involved in a serious collision.

  • Constantly consider safety. Safety is the most important thing about driving. Yes, you need to get where you’re trying to go, but you may not get there in one piece if you’re not driving safely. It’s wise to avoid aggressive and inattentive driving tendencies so that you have better chances of maintaining safety when people around you make unpredictable maneuvers. Be sure to lock your doors and wear your seatbelt so that you’re protected from being thrown out of your car in the event of a wreck.

  • Be aware of what’s happening around you. Check your mirrors often and pay attention to what’s going on 2-3 cars ahead of you. Don’t allow your eyes to become stagnant in one place—keep them moving around the road. If you notice an aggressive driver, allow them to pass you. If the driver appears particularly dangerous, it may be a good idea to pull over and report them. Additionally, keep your eyes peeled for pedestrians, bicyclists, and animals along the roadway.

  • Don’t depend on others on the road. Take consideration for others around you, but always remember that you are your number one priority. Don’t expect others to move out of the way so that you can merge. In fact, expect others not to get out of your way. Don’t expect people to stop at stop signs and red lights. Drive as if you must defend your safety. Expect the worst and you’ll always be prepared for it all.

  • Leave lots of distance. Never, ever tailgate. A good rule for leaving an adequate distance between vehicles is to provide at least one car lengths distance for every 10 miles per hour (mph) of your speed. For instance, if you’re traveling at a rate of 60 mph, you should leave a distance of at least six car lengths between your car and the one in front of you. When following this rule, you have plenty of time and space to slow down and stop if you suddenly need to. However, if you’re driving in inclement weather, you’ll need to leave even more distance between cars. In slippery conditions, it’s wise to double, or even triple your driving distance so that you leave yourself more than enough room to make moves when necessary.

  • Don’t speed. Since speeding is the leading cause of traffic-related fatalities in the United States, you should avoid speeding at all costs. The higher your speed, the less control you have over your vehicle. While it may be tempting to speed at times, it’s not a safe driving practice and should be avoided. It’s better to reach your destination a few minutes late than not at all.

  • Leave yourself a way to escape. You should never be “boxed in” on the road with cars on all sides of you. You should always leave yourself an escape route in case the unexpected occurs and you need to move out of the way. It’s a good idea to consistently position your vehicle in ways that allow you to be seen the best by everyone on the road. Never drive in someone’s blind spot, and avoid allowing other drivers to drive in your blind spots.

  • Compartmentalize risks. When you’re presented with several risks, you should try to handle them one at a time. You don’t want to have to handle several risks all at once.

  • Eliminate your distractions. A distraction is anything that removes your attention from the road. Eating a meal, checking Instagram on your smartphone, and tending to your pet are all examples of distractions that should be avoided while you’re behind the wheel. Studies show that distracted driving can be even more dangerous than tired or intoxicated driving, which goes to show how hazardous it is.

We’re Here For Your Support

If you find yourself in an injury-sustaining car accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Our Hudson Valley personal injury attorneys here at The Ahearne Law Firm, PLLC are highly experienced in these sorts of cases, and we’ve helped many other people just like you obtain the compensation they deserve. Let us help you, too. Don’t hesitate to contact our firm with your case right away.

Call (845) 763-4100 or complete an online form to speak with an accomplished attorney about your case.

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