Being a good driver is not easy. Even if you’ve been driving for a long time, you might be unsure if your skills behind the wheel are up to par. Being a defensive driver is even more difficult!
For years, the term “distracted driving” has been used. However, as the usage of cellphones has expanded over the previous decade, the frequency of traffic accidents caused by distracted driving has skyrocketed.
Here are some hard numbers to consider:
- Distracted driving is responsible for almost 3,000 deaths per year.
- Every day, nine people in the United States are killed in car accidents caused by distracted driving.
- Every day, almost 1,100 people are wounded in car accidents caused by distracted drivers.
- Distraction-related collisions accounted for 10% of death crashes and 17% of injury crashes in 2011.
- Drivers were utilizing a cell phone at the time of 12 percent of the distracted-driving crashes in 2011.
So, whether we’re on the phone, changing the music, checking emails, or scrolling through Facebook, we frequently forget about our responsibilities as drivers. Distracted drivers, in fact, may pose a larger risk on the road than intoxicated drivers.
The good news is that driving while distracted is avoidable. All you have to do now is learn to drive defensively.
Table of Contents
- What is Defensive Driving?
- Defensive Driving Elements
- Driving Tips for Defensive Driving
- Final Thoughts
What is Defensive Driving?
It’s a philosophy founded on the idea that roads are dangerous places to be, and that as a responsible driver, you must be aware of potential dangers in order to avoid an accident.
According to a study, defensive driving necessitates the driver performing a sequence of cognitive tasks, which are harmed when drivers redirect their attention away from the road. The SPIDER model was used to identify and explain the cognitive process in the study. SPIDER is an abbreviation for the following words:
- Scan for potential risks
- Predict the source of those risks
- Identify the actual risks
- Decide whether to act and what action to take
- Execute the right response and action
SPIDER-related processes are hindered, situation awareness is diminished, and the ability to safely operate a motor vehicle is affected when drivers engage in non-driving activities.
To practice defensive driving, you must be aware that other drivers may make mistakes or drive aggressively, resulting in collisions. To avoid these collisions, you must be prepared to deal with other drivers’ errors.
Even if you have the green light, you can’t take your eyes off the other cars as you approach a junction, expecting them to stop for their red light signal. Furthermore, if you are driving through an intersection and see pedestrians, you cannot trust that they would notice you approaching and come to a complete stop if they are staring at their phones. Pedestrians and other drivers who are distracted by their phones are unable to scan for, recognize, and avoid possible hazards.
To protect oneself from bad drivers, you must eventually remain cautious and commit to driving defensively.
Defensive Driving Elements
The following are the basic aspects of defensive driving:
- Space: Maintain a safe gap between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead of you. When a collision occurs in front of you or beside you, you will have more time to respond and will be less likely to be hurt.
- Visibility: Keep an eye on your mirrors when changing lanes to make sure there is no one in your blind spot. You should also avoid driving in other people’s blind spots to prevent colliding with them.
- Communication: Turn signals should always be used to express your purpose to merge or change lanes. Respect other drivers’ signals and allow them to safely turn, change lanes, and merge.
Driving Tips for Defensive Driving
Defensive driving requires awareness and foresight. A defensive driver should always pay attention to the behaviors of other drivers to avoid accidents. Anticipating risks and seeing 10 seconds ahead will give you more time to respond and help you avoid collisions. Here are some more pointers:
Don’t Make Assumptions or Put Your Trust in Others
When you’re driving, you’re never really alone, and you’re always vulnerable to the behavior of other drivers. Still, most drivers make the error of assuming that other drivers would be as cautious on the road as they are.
For example, just because the automobile in front of you is signaling a right turn does not indicate it will turn right. Do not make assumptions unless you clearly see the vehicle turning. In addition, drivers are occasionally unaware that their indicators are turned on.
As a result, you can lessen the likelihood of a collision by anticipating mistakes from others while remaining alert enough to react accordingly. It is your obligation to ensure your own safety, and the less you presume, the safer you will be.
Pull Over if you Feel Unsafe
If the vehicle in front of you is displaying road rage or participating in any risky behavior, pull over and let them pass. Never place yourself in a potentially dangerous scenario. You have no influence over what other drivers do behind the wheel, but you can make yourself as safe as possible. Never get caught up in aggressive driving techniques like overtaking or tailgating. Such risky driving tactics simply enhance the likelihood of a collision. Defensive driving lowers (if not completely eliminates) your chances of being involved in a collision.
Please Don’t Drink and Drive
Even over-the-counter flu medicine can affect your judgment and lengthen your reaction time. As a result, before opting to drive, you should honestly analyze your health. One drink per hour is around 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits for the average person. If you’ve had too much to drink, don’t go behind the wheel.
Keep a Safe Distance from Other Vehicles
To prevent a collision, you’ll need enough of space to react to potentially dangerous scenarios. Maintaining a safe distance from other vehicles is the best method to do this. This will also provide you with enough stopping distance if the motorist in front of you abruptly uses the brakes. Allow at least three seconds between you and the automobile in front of you for optimal driving conditions. In inclement weather, that distance should be increased.
Enrol in a Defensive Driving Program
You might take a certified defensive driving course if you truly want to learn additional defensive driving tips and methods. Although the course may differ from state to state due to local traffic restrictions, taking a defensive driving school will considerably enhance your driving skills and make you more aware of the risks associated with driving. The National Safety Council (NSC) provides defensive driving courses and has trained more than 75 million drivers in all 50 states and around the world.
Use a Route Optimizer
In 2013, 78 percent of American drivers were involved in at least one reckless driving incident, according to a poll. Providing drivers with an ideal and easy-to-follow route with turn-by-turn directions is an effective way to reduce driver stress and the likelihood of stress-related road accidents. Your drivers will be more aware of potential hazards and will be better equipped to handle them.
It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Defensive driving is one of many methods for ensuring driver safety. If you start exercising the above guidelines on a daily basis, they will become habits, and you will be a safe driver after defensive driving has become second nature.