Defensive driving is the process of taking precautions to ensure the safety of yourself and your passengers when you are behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. This means going above and beyond the rules of the road to remain alert and one step ahead of possible dangers. Preparation and practice will lead to a style of driving that gives you the best chance of avoiding an accident or other hazards. In order to improve your driving habits, here is a list of five defensive driving precautions and tips.
1. Eliminate Distractions
While you can’t control every distracting element that can pop up while you drive, you can certainly take precautionary steps to prevent many of them. Avoiding food in the car, keeping music volumes low and staying away from multitasking are just a few ways to eliminate distractions while driving.
This also means avoiding cell phones, one of the most dangerous distractions while on the road. This is a mistake that drivers make every day despite laws that make talking or texting while driving illegal. Save your cell phone use for when you reach your destination in order to avoid reckless driving, an expensive ticket or worse.
2. Avoid Other Driver’s Blind Spots
Checking your blind spots is a basic and well-known driving safety tip. While this is an important precaution, there are two sides to this coin as you can make it easier on other drivers by avoiding their blind spots. No matter how careful you are, there’s no way to ensure that another driver will check their blind spot before changing lanes on the highway. Avoiding this area will ensure that your safety doesn’t depend on the awareness of another driver.
3. Avoid Tailgating
Once in a while you might find yourself frustrated by traffic or the speed of the driver in front of you. While your first instinct is likely to tailgate behind this individual in order to save time and encourage them to speed up, this is a dangerous habit. Tailgating decreases the time and space that you have to brake if the driver in front of you comes to a stop. It also decreases your visibility of the road ahead as you are too close to another vehicle.
This tip is especially important if you notice that the driver in front of you is driving erratically. Keeping your distance from unpredictable drivers will keep you from having to suddenly brake, swerve or make other adjustments while driving.
4. Always Yield
Although rules exist dictating which driver has the right away, other drivers often ignore these rules. Rather than assuming that another driver will respect your right of way, airing on the side of caution is the best approach. Four-way stops, intersections and situations in which another driver has a yield sign are all instances that should be approached with caution. Taking the time to see whether or not another driver plans to yield for your vehicle can be the difference between having an accident and continuing on your way.
5. Take a Defensive Driving Course
While making a conscious effort to drive defensively is certainly a good start, taking a defensive driving course is the best way to improve your driving habits and knowledge. Just as you might seek out the best web design company to create a website or the best carpenter to build your kitchen, defensive driving classes present themselves as the best option available.
Defensive driving courses are usually offered by schools and can also be found via your local Department of Motor Vehicles. They offer a mix of instruction and driving practice that will make defensive driving habits second nature. The certificate that these classes produce will also reduce your insurance fees, ensuring a safer and cheaper experience on the road.