Over 2 million people are injured every year in car accidents in America. Some of these collisions are unavoidable, but many could’ve been helped by defensive driving techniques.
Most people try to enjoy driving, but knowing certain maneuvers or habits may save your life.
Follow these techniques to keep your passengers and yourself safe.
1. Calculate Ramp Speed
It may seem like a good idea to approach expressway entrance ramps slowly, but doing so is actually more dangerous.
Entering at a slow rate of speed makes it difficult to merge due to speed differences between you and the traffic already on the highway.
If you drive too slow, you may end up coming to a stop at the merge lane. This will cause an even more dangerous scenario for you and the traffic around you.
As you approach the highway, try and match your speed with the rest of the vehicles. You will have to adjust accordingly depending on the available space.
2. Constantly Scan the Field
Long trips can cause you to fall into a complacent driving mode. Your eyes should constantly be scanning what’s in front, beside, and behind you.
Your mirrors can help you maintain focus on the front with quick checks that don’t require a lot of neck movement.
Take notice of reckless drivers, weather conditions, or emergency vehicles so you can plan accordingly. Accidents don’t happen when we expect them; they happen because we don’t think something bad will happen in a certain place.
3. Plan Quickly
How many times have you been driving beside or behind an erratic driver? Do you have a plan to avoid or maneuver away from this person?
Plan your actions based on their behavior. If they continue driving dangerously, either pull over or turn on to a different street. In extreme cases, write down the license plate and call 911.
As soon as you notice something irregular on the road, have a plan to get out of the situation for your safety. The planning should start right away.
4. Speed Dictates Defensive Driving Techniques
You should always follow posted speed limits. These limits have been set for drivers in perfect weather conditions.
In inclement weather, slow your speed and give yourself space to hit the brakes in case of an emergency.
Staying at posted speed limits should give you the time and control to make maneuvers and employ techniques effectively.
5. Assume the Worst
When you’re driving to work or the grocery store, it’s easy to believe that everyone will be as courteous and cautious as you, especially if you haven’t been in a wreck.
Assume that other drivers are the worst vehicle operators and can’t be trusted. Instead of being relaxed, you’ll be ready to turn, hit the brakes, or speed up if necessary.
Getting into an accident will take up your time and money. If someone careless hits you, make sure to contact a lawyer who specializes in car accident cases.
6. Green Lights and Stop Signs
Assuming the worst in drivers applies to stoplights, too. Whether you have a protected arrow or just a regular greenlight, always drive through intersections with caution.
Like a stop sign, look both ways and enter cautiously. There are too many distracted and drunk drivers in the world that will blow through a red light and ruin a day.
As you approach a green light, scan the horizon for vehicles that look like they aren’t stopping for their red light.
7. Avoid Constantly Changing Lanes
Change lanes as little as possible. The more you change lanes in heavy traffic, the less likely people are to know where you are.
On a three-lane highway, if you are trying to change lanes into the middle one, then make sure no one in the far lane is trying to enter where you are.
Don’t enter a small space between two vehicles. The front vehicle may suddenly stop, and you will cause a rear-end collision.
Only change lanes when absolutely necessary. Make sure there are no vehicles in your proximity when you change lanes. A good rule is to make sure you can see both headlights of a vehicle behind you in the lane you’re merging.
8. Reduce Blind Spots
Whether you’re in someone else’s blind spot or they are in yours, you need to move. Even if another driver knows you’re there, give them a visual to let them know.
Most blind spots are near the rear passenger side.
If you’re unsure that a driver can see you in a blind spot, drive faster or slower so you’re exactly a car length distance from them.
In scenarios that are affected by daylight or weather, flash your bright beams to let them know you’re there.
If you think a vehicle is in your blind spot, you can do the same thing by speeding up or slowing down and checking mirrors.
9. Cut out Distracted Driving
Food, loud music, phones, and conversations can impair your ability to operate a vehicle safely. Every day 1,000 people are injured from distracted driving.
Any activity that averts your attention from the road (and your surroundings) is considered distracted driving.
Turn off your phone before you drive and avoid doing anything that requires the use of your hands. Turn down your music so you can hear emergency vehicles around you.
10. Protect Yourself From Road Rage
People are unpredictable and can become extremely upset over trivial events. If you see someone is visibly angry with you and your driving, do not engage.
There are too many cases where drivers are injured or killed by people who develop road rage.
The best thing to do is to ignore the upset driver. If they follow you or persist, develop an escape route and call the authorities. Do not get out of your vehicle to confront them.
Safety Is First
The whole reason you want to know about defensive driving techniques is that you prioritize safety. Mitigate your chances of becoming a statistic by improving your driving habits.
In an unpredictable world, you can exercise discipline and caution to keep you and your passengers safe.
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