When it comes to driving, it makes sense to be defensive. Defensive driving is the act of taking precautions to “defend” yourself against others on the road. You can’t control how others drive, but you can take steps to avoid accidents.
When you drive defensively, you not only have a chance to prevent accidents, but you also save money. Your insurance premiums aren’t likely to be as high when you avoid accidents and other problems. Plus, you are less likely to be in a situation that involves property damage or injury.
Next time you get behind the wheel here are a few things you can do to drive more defensively:
1. Focus on driving
The best thing you can do is focus on driving. Don’t fiddle with the air conditioning or your phone. Try to get everything set before you pull out of your driveway. Avoid discussions that take a lot of thought and concentration so that you can save your focus for the road, and for paying attention to those around you.
2. Avoid speeding
Speeding can cause more severe accidents. If you are speeding, the higher rate can mean greater property damage and injury. It can also take longer to stop when you’re going too fast. Observe speed limits and go with the flow of traffic.
3. Come to a complete stop
It’s tempting to blow through a stop sign or try to beat a traffic light. However, this is aggressive driving that can result in accidents. Make sure you stop completely when you see red. Look both ways. This is important if you want to reduce the chances of a serious accident. Just because you have the right of way doesn’t mean that someone else won’t come blowing through a red light or stop sign. Being aware can help you avoid problems. If you aren’t sure if it’s your turn to go, yield.
4. Use your turning signals
Let people know your intentions by using the turning signals. Give plenty of warning as well so that people following you aren’t taken by surprise. Also, realize that in some cases failure to signal can mean that your insurance claim is rejected.
5. Practice safe following distance
Maintain a buffer between you and the car in front of you. If the car suddenly stops, you have more time to react when you aren’t tailgating. You want to stay at least two seconds behind when the weather is good, and follow even farther behind when the weather is snowy or rainy.
6. Don’t drive impaired
Whether it’s a prescription, over-the-counter medicine, or alcohol, don’t drive impaired. If you take something that makes you sleepy or that alters the way you perceive the world, don’t get behind the wheel. Have someone else drive. You don’t want to drive erratically or cause an accident.
7. Don’t give in to road rage
Finally, do your best to avoid road rage. When others are inconsiderate while driving, try to let it go. You don’t want to escalate a problem. Take a few deep breaths and re-focus on the road when you are in a situation that tries your patience. Driving defensively is your best bet against accidents and insurance problems.