Being careful while on the road is always a good idea. This is perhaps because you’ll often see time-crunched and reckless motorists often showing little consideration for other road users.
While you may not be able to control other drivers’ actions, you can ensure your safety by using defensive driving techniques. By driving defensively, you will be better placed to anticipate incoming dangers and protect yourself and others from road hazards.
Here are some handy tips to help you master this imperative technique of driving defensively.
1. Plan Ahead
The key to defensive driving is planning your journey before you leave the house. You need to physically inspect your car to ensure it is in good condition. Also, ensure all the lights are functioning correctly, tire pressure is okay to drive on, all mirrors are clear, and dashboard indicators are within the normal range.
It is also crucial to check the local weather forecast. Look out for icy, snowy, or wet conditions and plan accordingly. For instance, during wet weather, you should expect traffic delays, so you might want to postpone your journey if possible.
2. Know Your Surroundings
Car accidents often happen when they are least expected. Although it is impossible to keep track of everything that happens in your vicinity when driving, you are required to scan your surroundings constantly.
Check for oncoming motorists or cyclists on your side mirrors, and be very keen when going through an intersection. Also, you need to pay attention to traffic lights and always pause before joining intersecting roads to keep away from T-bone accidents.
3. Always Brake Promptly
Braking is the cornerstone of defensive driving. You should never shy away from applying your brakes earlier than is deemed necessary. This habit lets you leave sufficient space between you and the vehicle ahead, thus creating a safety cover for your vehicle.
However, braking early can endanger you if not done appropriately. It would be best if you first slowed down before braking. Doing this will alert any incoming speeding vehicles and avoid a rear-end collision.
4. Accelerate Gradually
Defensive driving is not only about braking early but also accelerating slowly. If you want to avoid being a road hazard, avoid flooring the pedal when making a move. Instead, ease gently into the accelerator to allow other motorists around you to anticipate your move. This way, you will avoid sudden lane changes that often cause accidents.
5. Give Way When Appropriate
Giving way to other vehicles is a defensive driving technique that often gets underrated. It would be best if you allowed faster-moving vehicles to overtake you instead of insistently trying to maintain your position on the road. Also, giving way can buy you some time and space to regain control in case of an emergency.
6. Do Not Drive While Distracted
Defensive driving involves balancing being reactive and proactive. Proactivity means remaining attentive and anticipating risks. It is impossible for a distracted driver to entirely focus on driving, increasing the risk of a collision.
It would be best if you refrained from engaging in any activity that would take your focus away from the road while driving. Defensive driving demands your full attention to be safe on the road. Avoid eating, drinking, fiddling with the car stereo, or playing with your phone while driving. Also, make sure passengers in your vehicle do not become a distraction.
Take the Right Steps if You Get in a Car Accident
Unfortunately, some accidents are unavoidable. Around 15,000 automobile accidents and 100 road fatalities are reported in the United States daily. That means there’s a high chance of you getting involved in one of these unfortunate incidents at one point or another.
The good news is that knowing what steps to take can help increase the chances of a quick recovery and a better outcome if you decide to pursue compensation.
Among the first things you should do after an accident is to call 911. Calling 911 helps bring the police and emergency responders to the scene. When they show up, you must ensure that you get medical attention at the scene, even if you have no visible injuries.
Additionally, make sure you document the accident scene using your smartphone or ask someone to do it on your behalf. Some of the things you may want to capture are your injuries, property damage, car models, and license plates.
Also, don’t forget to collect the other party’s and witnesses’ information, including their names and contact details.
Defensive driving is a skill that every driver should master regardless of their experience on the road. By following the tips we have shared above, you will stay safe while driving and avoid being a danger to other motorists. Drive defensively today and make our roads safer for everyone.