For most commuters, driving feels second nature. But even if you’ve been driving for decades and believe you’re a pretty responsible driver, you can’t always say the same for everyone else on the road. Defensive driving is a specific set of strategies drivers can implement to reduce accidents and save lives. Here are a few techniques you can use while driving to help you anticipate hazards and stay safe:
Always be scanning
Driving is one of the most visually demanding activities a person can do. When operating a vehicle, your primary focus should be on the road ahead. Still, you should also be continually scanning your review mirror and side mirrors to retain a mental picture of the traffic around you.
Don’t be a tailgater
With the speeds driven on highways, it’s crucial that you leave enough space between yourself and the car in front of you in the event you have to brake suddenly or perform an evasive maneuver to avoid an accident. A good rule of thumb is to follow the three-second rule while driving. Pick a fixed landmark in your scenery and count the number of seconds that pass between the car in front of you passing it and your car passing it. If it’s less than three seconds, you’re following too close.
Follow the speed limit
Speed limits are in place for a reason. It may be tempting to speed if you’re running late or have a lead foot, but if you want to safely arrive at your destination, following the speed limit is a must. It’ll cause less wear to your brakes and tires, and you’ll be less likely to crash. Driving too slowly is just as dangerous as driving too fast, so be sure to stay as close to the posted limit as possible.
Ignore your phone
Driving distracted is the exact opposite of driving defensively, and in today’s digital era, smartphones are causing a lot of distractions on the road. It may seem harmless to glance at your device for a few seconds, but looking at your phone for just five seconds when traveling 55 mph is the same as driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed. Silence your phone or put it in the “Do Not Disturb” mode to avoid.
Don’t assume everyone else in traffic is following the rules or driving responsibly. By driving defensively, you can ensure you have time to respond and avoid dangerous scenarios on the road.