When driving, it’s important to be on top of your game so that you can avoid any mishaps between you and other drivers. Read these 10 defensive driving tips, so that you can be prepared on the go.
1. Avoid Getting Distracted
You might have found yourself engaging in distracted driving, especially if you have children. But you need to make it a rule that you won’t look away from the road so you can keep your family safe. When your children ask you to look at them or something they are holding, tell them that you can’t look while you are driving. Avoid looking through your purse or using your phone while driving as well. Any action that takes your eyes off of the road — even for a second — can cause a car accident.
2. Pay Attention to Other Drivers
You might have heard the expression, “You not only need to drive for yourself, you need to drive for everyone else, too.” If you haven’t, what it means is that although you might be one of the best and safest drivers on the road, that doesn’t mean that you can control how other people drive. Be alert and aware of what other drivers are doing on the road. For example, check your rearview mirror to monitor how drivers approaching your vehicle are driving. Take note if they are weaving or speeding excessively.
3. Look Ahead
Not only do you need to pay attention to the drivers behind you, but you also need to look ahead in the distance to spot potential problems. Sometimes, you might need to change lanes to avoid a stranded car or a police officer making a traffic stop. Other times, you might notice brake lights flashing on cars up ahead, which signals that you will need to slow down.
4. Follow the Speed Limit
Speed limits are posted for a reason — so that drivers can proceed safely. When you exceed the speed limit, you are posing a danger for you, your passengers and every else on the road you meet. Plus, speeding can equal reckless driving, depending on how fast you’re traveling, which can equal huge fines. For example, in Henrico County VA reckless driving is defined as driving at 20 miles or above the posted speed limit.
5. Be Willing to Yield
Not all drivers operate the vehicle they are driving with confidence, and drivers who are unfamiliar with the traffic laws in a specific area might make errors. Always be on the lookout for confused drivers who might not do what they are supposed to do, such as yield to drivers coming off the interstate. Be willing to yield if you can do so safely, so that you and the other driver can avoid a car accident. Even if the collision isn’t serious, you’ll still have to deal with everything that happens after a car accident.
6. Give Yourself Plenty of Time to Stop
Sure you can slam on your brakes and make your car stop, but at some point, you’ll likely have an accident. Get to know the feel of your vehicle’s brakes, so that you will know when to start applying them as you approach a traffic light or stop sign. That way, you’ll be able to give yourself ample time to stop without slamming on the brakes — and your brakes will last longer as well.
7. Use Your Blinkers
Drivers aren’t mind readers, so you need to be as helpful as possible when out on the road. When you plan to turn or change lanes, always use your blinker. Also, don’t wait until the last second to turn your blinker on. This can catch other drivers unaware and cause them to make a mistake.
8. Avoid Tailgating
If you’re in the habit of following too closely behind other drivers or tailgating, you need to stop. Not only is driving too closely annoying to the driver you’re following, it also can end up badly for you. If the driver ahead unexpectedly slams on his brakes, you just might plow right into the back of his car.
9. Keep a Safe Distance from Large Trucks and Precarious Loads
If you’ve ever been driving and heard a loud popping noise, followed by a mark or crack in your windshield, you might have been driving too closely to a large truck. Unfortunately, some trucks will throw up rocks and gravel from the roadway, which can strike the windshields of other drivers, so keep a safe distance. Also, if you see a vehicle or trailer with a load that seems unstable, keep a safe distance behind it to avoid having your car struck by flying objects.
10. Avoid Blindspot Errors
If you’ve ever tried to change lanes while driving only to see a car in the land you’re trying to move to at the last second, you know a blind spot can be dangerous. Just as other drivers should stay out of your blindspot, you should learn how to avoid blindspots as well. Make it a habit to pass other drivers in a timely manner and not hang out in an area where they can’t easily see you. And, when you decide to change lanes, ask someone else in the vehicle to double-check that there’s not another car where you’re planning to move.