Monday, January 5, 2015

Tips for Driving Defensively

Always be aware of cyclists and pedestrians. Photo courtesy of Volvo.
Every day there are car accidents, with far too many ending in a serious injury or fatality. While nobody really wants to be in a wreck, the way you drive most definitely affects the chances that you will crash your car sometime in the future. Of course, there is no way to completely avoid getting into an accident since you cannot control how other drivers behave on the road. If more people would behave defensively on the road, there would be fewer dangerous situations and fewer wrecks.  Here are some tips on how you can start driving defensively.

Avoid consuming anything that will compromise your ability to safely operate a vehicle.

Everyone should know that drinking alcohol and driving are not to be combined. What people might not realize is there are certain medications that also can impair a person's ability to operate a car safely. You should also avoid loading up on caffeine after you have been awake for a lengthy period of time, since you could still fall asleep at the wheel and cause an accident.

Keep your attention on the road.

Mobile devices like smartphones and tablets should be ignored while you are behind the wheel, because even just checking one text message could distract you enough to not see the aggressive driver that cut you off. Of course there are other distractions, like eating food, trying to use a GPS system, dealing with unruly children in the car, reading a book or other materials, and even taking care of personal grooming tasks like shaving and applying makeup.

Always keep safety in mind.

Keep up with the flow of traffic and avoid following the car in front of you too closely. Always signal and look before changing lanes, and allow others into your lane when they signal. Watch the traffic ahead of you and begin applying the brakes early if there is a slowdown.

Always assume that other drivers aren't watching out for you.

The sad truth is that at any given moment, at least a large minority of drivers aren't paying attention to their surroundings, including other vehicles. This means you should avoid driving side-by-side with other cars, watch for anyone weaving or driving erratically, and try to anticipate what other drivers will do. You should also position yourself on the road so that you always have a pathway of escape, like if a car in an adjacent lane swerves toward you.

When inclement weather hits, you need to slow down even more than normal and take all of the necessary precautions.

In heavy rain, snow, or on icy roads, absolutely do not slam on the brakes. Instead, anticipate stops early and gradually slow down. Whenever possible, stay home and don't drive when the weather turns bad.

Share the road with other types of vehicles.

Give big trucks, including semi-trailers, a large berth since they cannot stop or turn as easily as your car. Always look out for motorcycles and give them sufficient space as well. With cyclists, follow the rule of staying at least three free away from them at all times, especially when passing one on the road. 

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