When you hear about traffic accidents, you realize that the roads are not safe. But in fact, it’s driving that isn’t safe. It’s fun and convenient, and we can’t imagine life without something much faster than our feet, but it comes with a huge responsibility.
Last year, over 42,000 people lost their lives in motor vehicle accidents, a significant increase from the year before. That tells you that driving is increasingly becoming unsafe and mostly because motorists aren’t being careful on the road.
While you can’t watch over other road users, you can do your part to contribute to road safety by utilizing defensive driving techniques.
What is Defensive Driving?
Defensive driving is when you consciously apply safety measures to minimize the risks that come with driving. It means that you’re applying taught practices and common sense to anticipate, avoid, and address mistakes on the road for your safety and that of others.
To what extent does defensive driving apply?
You should always use defensive driving practices every time you’re on the road, regardless of what you’re using to transport yourself. These safety practices don’t just apply to motorists either.
Whether you’re riding a motorbike or bicycle, you still need defensive driving skills to improve road safety. The same would apply to scooters, which are becoming more frequent on urban sidewalks. On their page, JT Legal Group looks into scooter accidents and the associated legal ramifications.
Keep in mind that defensive driving begins with you. On that note, if you’d like to brush up on your defensive driving skills, let’s get to it.
Imagine a scenario where you’re fumbling around with your car’s stereo when suddenly an oncoming vehicle veers into your path or the driver ahead of you slams on the brakes.
Such scenarios happen daily because many drivers aren’t entirely present on the road. They have their focus split between driving and something else, which is a huge cause of traffic accidents.
You can efficiently respond to dangerous situations when you’ve been focused the whole time. Staying alert allows you to pay attention to your surroundings, make note of possible dangers, and react appropriately.
Watch Out for Danger Zones
Always watch out for places that could pose risks at any time and take extra care while driving around those areas. Places like bus stops, intersections, overpasses, as well as tunnels can be tricky.
Residential areas can also be risky as children are bound to appear out of nowhere on bicycles and stuff.
What makes these places risky is that anything can happen at any time, and it’s crucial that you prepare yourself to respond safely.
Maintain Proper Distance
Keeping a following distance is a crucial habit that many drivers ignore, posing dangers on the road.
If you’re not maintaining proper distance with the vehicle ahead of you, you may find yourself in a tough spot if the vehicle makes sudden moves.
The National Safety Council, in their DDC instructor guide, recommends keeping a three-second distance between you and the driver ahead of you.
Safe driving demands that you engage all of your senses. You need to put in the work and not take driving as a laidback activity. Start with constantly looking far ahead.
If you’re only looking at the vehicle in front of you, then you’re not putting in the work, and that can be disastrous. You may miss early signs of hazards that you would have picked up on had you been scanning further.
Observe Traffic Rules
Traffic rules are in place for a reason, and that’s not to be broken. You may be used to running red lights at night because there aren’t many vehicles on the road. But all it takes is one other vehicle to cause a crash.
You may be running late and watching other drivers comfortably whipping past you at speeds above the limit. Don’t join the madness despite the urge. Maintain your speed limit as that’s what defensive driving is all about
Avoid Aggressive Drivers
Defensive driving contradicts aggressive driving as it’s about having your wits about you in difficult situations to promote safety. If you encounter an aggressive driver, it’s not your job to guide them or engage with them.
You never know the driver’s state of mind, so the most sensible thing to do is avoid their aggressive behavior and report to the authorities if you feel they are a road hazard.
Defensive driving teaches you preventive and reactive strategies to help you handle yourself better on the road. It starts with you taking precautions before you even drive off.