Defensive driving is a technique used to anticipate and defend against the worst possible scenario.
Individuals trained in this manner are taught to be constantly aware of what goes on around them. They obey all traffic rules and signal when appropriate. Defensive drivers take every precaution to guarantee safety for themselves and others. Driving defensively saves lives.
Vehicle safety inspection
Defensive driving begins with vehicle inspection. Every possible safety hazard is taken into consideration. Lights, signals and brakes are tested often. Windows are clean and wiper fluid full. All obstacles are removed from the dash. Mirrors are adjusted for optimum vision. Any one of these seemingly minor issues can cause a deadly driving accident.
Defensive drivers carry emergency supplies for all circumstances. Be sure to have a first aid kit, spare tire and jack, flares and a flag to signal for help. Keep your cell phone charged. Consider a road service plan or GPS guidance system as well. Be prepared for winter weather. Keep kitty litter or carpets for traction in the trunk. A snow shovel, blankets and emergency food and water are also helpful.
Awareness is the number one rule of defensive driving. Watch for turn signals, brake lights, lane changes and other signs of movement. Signal lights on other vehicles are every bit as important as traffic signals. Their brake lights are your stop lights. Regularly checking mirrors keeps drivers aware of possible hazards behind and beside them.
Watch for distractions
Distractions are a leading cause of accidents. Driving defensively means keeping your eyes and mind on task. Refrain from cell phone use and other distractions while driving. Be aware of distractions impacting other drivers as well. Use extra caution when driving next to someone who is eating, talking or simply not paying attention to the road.
Caution: Large vehicle
Defensive drivers are taught to watch large vehicles closely. They have a larger blind spot than passenger vehicles. Defensive driving entails following the age old rule. If you can’t see my mirrors, I can’t see you. Defensive driving courses often suggest staying away from larger vehicles as much as possible.
Keep your distance
Keeping a safe distance from all vehicles is a defensive driving technique. Stay in your lane to avoid side collisions. Remain at least two car lengths behind the vehicle ahead of you. This tactic allows for braking room when traffic stops suddenly. Maintaining distance also allows room for passing and lane changes.
In a nutshell
Defensive driving means anticipating problems and planning evasive action. Defensive drivers keep their vehicles in top condition. Remaining aware of other drivers is the most essential element in defensive driving. Watch for distractions. Remain visible to large vehicles. Always maintain a safe distance while driving defensively. Attention to these details saves lives.
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