A driver is only as good as their record. With over 3,000 road deaths per day, it’s evident that careless and distracted driving is a problem that must be addressed. However, you still might be at risk even if you don’t practice unsafe driving habits, such as texting or driving while intoxicated. Being safe on the road means being fully trained in defensive driving practices. Here are some tools for mastering defensive driving.
1. Pay attention
To master defensive driving, you must have full awareness of your surroundings. This means you need to be cognizant of what’s going on in front, behind and to the sides of your car. You should be alert as possible and not drive drowsy or inebriated. Take the time to look in your mirrors as often as possible for any possible safety hazards, such as other motorists tailgating you. Keep your hands on the steering wheel in the proper 9 and 3 o’clock positions. Remember: just a momentary lapse in judgment could be devastating.
2. Observe other drivers
While you need to mainly be mindful about what you’re doing with your car, you should also be aware of what other drivers are doing. If someone makes a dangerous decision and you’re not paying attention, you could end up in a collision. Here are some scenarios where you need to pay especially close attention:
- If you’re on the highway and other drivers are merging in
- If you’re driving down a main road that you anticipate other drivers turning onto
- If you’re driving at night or in hazardous weather conditions, such as rain
3. Know how to respond to various emergencies
If an unsafe situation presents itself, you need to be fully prepared to react in time. You also need to know exactly how to react. For instance, if you find yourself skidding on black ice, you should know to not panic and slam on the brakes. Here are some scenarios you should know how to deal with:
- Driving on snow/ice
- Swerving to avoid another car
- Swerving to avoid an animal
4. Drive at a safe speed
Speed is a definite factor in a huge number of driving fatalities. The longer you’ve had your driver’s license, the easier it can be to misjudge how fast you’re going. If you’re not careful, you can find yourself accelerating above the speed limit. Speed limits are in place for a region and not adhering to them can be a fatal mistake. You should also keep in mind that going below the speed limit can be dangerous as well. To master defensive driving, you don’t want to be entering a highway at 35 miles per hour.
5. Eliminate distractions
Our brains are designed to focus on one task at any given moment, so it’s unfathomable that people would even want to entertain the notion of focusing on anything else while driving. Yet we hear again and again about accidents and fatalities due to people texting or talking on their phones while driving. In order to master defensive driving, there should be nothing else in your hands while driving except your steering wheel.
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