Defensive driving is not about going slow or being overly cautions. Just like in sports, you need a good defense to avoid unnecessary risks to life and limb. Driving a car is more dangerous than going 38,000 feet in an airplane, because many people have developed unsafe driving habits. Defensive driving is about developing good habits to keep you, and everybody around you, a little bit safer. If every driver was a defensive driver, there would be a lot less people injured or killed in road accidents. Here are 5 defensive driving tips you should take to heart to help you develop safe driving habits..
- Concentrate on driving Most people think they can do several things at the same time, or multi-tasking. Computers can do that, but human brains are not designed to work on two things at the same time. In terms of productivity, a person working on two tasks simultaneously will do poorly in one or both tasks. In terms of driving, it usually means an accident. Talking on the phone, eating, or even changing the radio station are things that are distracting you from the business of driving. If you need to do any of those things, pull over. It might seem a waste of time, but you will waste more time if you get into an accident. Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of car accidents.
- Practice situational awareness. Be aware of your surroundings, and don’t just concentrate on the driver in front of you. This gives you tunnel vision, so you cannot see and anticipate problems such as pedestrian crossing, or an accident further up the road that may cause the driver ahead to panic and brake hard without warning. The result? You crash into the car. Racecar drivers have a habit of high eyes driving, which means they focus on the road horizon instead of the car in front of them. This gives them a wider view of the surroundings, and allows them to react fast to anything unexpected.
- Avoid changing lanes. Every time you change lanes, you force other drivers to slow down, so that is a major cause of traffic. Aside from that, more cars get in an accident as they are changing lanes, maybe because the other driver was distracted and didn’t see you, didn’t brake fast enough, or didn’t want to let you in. You are less likely to get into an accident when you stick to one lane as much as possible, especially on the highway.
- Anticipate what other drivers will do. No matter how defensive you are as a driver, you can still get into an accident because other drivers are reckless. You can probably spot them a mile away. They weave in and out of traffic, change lanes without signaling, and approach way too fast. You have to be ready for them, as they may cut in front of you, or crash into the vehicle in front of them, which could result in a chain reaction. A different type of danger is the distracted driver who changes lane without checking their mirrors. Avoid these drivers as much as possible. Slow down gradually so that they can pull ahead and out of your hair. It is tempting to give them a dose of their own medicine by cutting in front of them or boxing them in and making it impossible for them to cut in front of you. Suppress it. At best, you’ll cause an accident yourself. At worst, you have someone with road rage and a shotgun gunning for you.
- Avoid road rage. It is funny when you think about it, but you can trigger road rage by simply making eye contact with another driver. This can happen when you refuse to let a driver cut in front of you, or you overtook him or her. It can give rise to a situation you didn’t want or even intend. Some drivers simply have hair trigger tempers, and may interpret eye contact as a challenge. Even if the driver pulls up next to you and starts trouble. Don’t make eye contact and simply drive at your normal speed as if you are not even aware.