Owning a car is part of the American dream. Public transport is great, but there’s nothing like the freedom of being able to drive wherever you want, whenever you want.
With that freedom, though, comes an immense responsibility. The realities of driving call for great precaution since your action behind the wheel can have major repercussions for yourself, your passengers, and everyone else on the road around you.
Defensive driving is driving in such a way as to reduce danger. The practices, habits, and skills it encompasses are ones everybody should take upon himself to learn. You may not be able to control other drivers or the environment. But you can control how you react to them.
These defensive driving skills can keep your car in good shape, save you money on insurance (by avoiding accidents) and even save your life.
Keep Your Distance from Other Cars
A lot of collisions occur because people are forced to stop suddenly and the cars behind them aren’t able to react in time to make a difference.
That’s why it’s imperative that you always leave enough room between you and the vehicle in front of you. A good rule of thumb is to mentally select an object ahead of you; wait for the car in front of you pass that object. As soon as it does, count two seconds (“one thousand one, one thousand two”). If it takes you less than two seconds to pass the same object, you should slow down.
If you follow this tip, you’ll have at least two seconds’ worth of time to come to a halt if the car in front of you stops suddenly. In this way, you avoid rear-ending them.
Know How to React to Environmental Conditions
It seems that whenever it starts raining, there’s inevitably going to be a crash somewhere. But weather-induced accidents don’t have to be a given. Learning how to respond to different types of inclement weather can really save you.
When the rain starts, slow down. Even if it isn’t pouring that hard, the water gathers oil on the road and makes it slippery. Because driving at a higher velocity reduces friction between your tires and the asphalt, going fast in the rain makes it easier for your car to spin out of control.
When in snow, follow the same strategy. In addition, make as few stops as possible–especially when going up a hill.
Keep Your Head Cool When Dealing with Road Ragers
One person having a case of road rage is dangerous enough. Don’t make the situation worse by joining in on the aggression.
If someone tailgates you, tap your break as a signal that he should keep greater distance. If he doesn’t relent, slow down and wait until he passes you.
Make Sure Other Cars Can See You
Many crashes occur because one driver doesn’t see the other. Always use your turn signals when making a turn. Switch on the headlights when it gets dark and in the rain. Avoid blind spots like the plague. And before turning at intersections, make sure the road ahead of you is clear of traffic.
There’s always risk to driving, but there’s no need to make it any more dangerous. Always remain conscious of your surroundings, keep your cool, and eliminate distractions. These defensive driving habits will serve you well down the road.