Improve Your “Street Smarts” with These Defensive Driving Techniques
Driving doesn’t have to be scary but it’s not an activity that should be taken lightly either.
First, get yourself set up with the appropriate cheap car insurance for you and your vehicle, taking into account your work life, geographical location, budget, etc.
Then, brush up on a few street-smart skills to arm you with the knowledge you need to employ defensive driving techniques and minimize the opportunity for crashes.
List of 8 Defensive Driving Techniques
1. Expect Others to Drive Poorly
When you are doing your best to be a good driver, it’s easy to assume that everyone else will be, too.
While most other drivers are following the rules and being cautious, there will always be some that are not.
As you’re driving, pay attention to things that aren’t in your control and the little tip-offs you get that others might not be driving safely and should, therefore, be given a wide berth.
- The driver is looking down. This could mean they are distracted by a beverage spill, texting, etc.
- The car is swerving. The driver could be impaired in some way.
- The driver is going too fast for the conditions.
- Driver continuously switches lanes.
2. Stay Out of Others’ Blind Spots
Drivers who are truly paying attention and driving defensively will see you in their blind spot if and when they decide to switch lanes, but don’t actually count on that.
Assume that you are invisible to them and stay out of other drivers’ blind spots. The more visible you are to others on the road the less likely there will be a collision.
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3. Keep Your Distance
A good rule of thumb when driving is to stay 3 seconds behind the car in front of you.
This means there should be at least 3 seconds of driving techniques at your current speed between your vehicle and theirs.
This varies depending on the situation such as dicey weather conditions, construction zones, traffic jams, and when you’re behind a motorcycle or bus. If you are getting tailgated, take the high road and switch lanes so the vehicle can get around you.
4. Always Assess Potential Risks
Keeping an eye on what’s going on around you is good defensive driving techniques.
If there are vehicles or trucks with objects that aren’t secure, keep a safe distance and watchful eye on them. Heed road signs that indicate wildlife crossing and falling rock.
While you might feel comfortable and relatively untouched inside the car, the surroundings will always need to be monitored for safety.
5. Scan, Scan, Scan
Take full advantage of the panoramic view you get from your windshield and mirrors, and regularly scan far ahead and even behind for a general feel of activity and potential hazards.
Checking the rearview or side mirror will help you see the car that’s coming up far too quickly behind you. Scanning ahead will give you a better idea of what’s ahead and what to prepare for.
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6. Free Yourself of Distractions
There are a number of things that can distract drivers – food, other passengers, the radio, makeup, cell phones; the list goes on and on. Being a good defensive driver means staying focused on the road and being aware of your driving techniques.
- Avoid eating and drinking while driving. Pullover and take a break to snack.
- Turn down the radio so you are able to hear emergency vehicles.
- Avoid arguments while driving, the emotional stress will make you lose concentration.
- Engage the children in their own games or a movie to keep them from getting loud.
7. Prepare Yourself & Your Vehicle
Your vehicle is a machine and operating it should be done with care and respect. Too often, drivers get careless and pay less and less attention to safe driving techniques. This puts them and other people on the road at great risk.
- Keep both hands on the wheel
- Don’t drive when you’re tired or in any way impaired
- Be patient with other drivers
- Change lanes only when necessary
- Don’t tailgate
- Use all of the proper signalings
- Always take a second look for motorcycles
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8. Avoid Road Rage
There are plenty of times in a day when a driver cuts off another driver or someone gets irritated or upset with a careless move that is made. If you see that you’ve upset another driver and they honk at your or throw hand gestures, don’t engage. It’s best to not make eye contact at all. Just slow down and let them pass. If you get upset with another driver, take a deep breath and allow your fright and irritation to pass.