Driving your car can be a dangerous undertaking. Each day, thousands of accidents occur on American roads, with many resulting in injuries or even fatalities.
According to the US Department of Transportation, 94% of crashes are due to driver error. Some of these errors include internal and external distractions, poor judgment, and lack of control.
One way to mitigate, or at least lower the probability of these collisions is what is known as defensive driving. In this article, we’ll examine the definition of defensive driving, what defensive driving involves, and tips for driving defensively while on the roads.
What is defensive driving?
The meaning of defensive driving has to do with a driver taking on the responsibility of implementing safe driving practices that go above and beyond the normal standards of driving a vehicle. In other words, the driver assumes responsibility for not only his own actions on the road but also in dealing with the mistakes of other drivers as well.
What does defensive driving mean in practical terms? It means being proactive in preventing accidents. Whether that’s constantly scanning the roads or looking both ways before an intersection, you are continually identifying potential hazards while driving.
Defensive driving prepares you to react and respond safely when something unexpected happens on the roads. It’s a way to protect not only you and your passengers but all those sharing the road with you as well.
Benefits of defensive driving
Having a ‘defense driving’ mindset has many benefits for not just you as the driver, but all those nearby as well. Here are some of the top benefits of defensive driving:
- Insurance reduction: Certain states offer up to 10% savings on your insurance rates if you’ve completed a defensive driving course.
- Point reduction: After a traffic violation, a defensive driving course could also lower demerit points on your driver’s license.
- Improve safety: By practicing defensive driving techniques like following the three-second rule, the roads will be a much safer place, reducing the chances of accidents.
- Improve driving skills: Your driving skills will improve as you reiterate driving laws and practice safe driving techniques (i.e. driving in bad weather, for example).
- Save fuel and improve the lifespan of your vehicle: Maintaining a uniform speed will help you save on gas costs as well as result in less wear and tear on your car.
Defensive driving tips
Now that you have an understanding of the benefits of defensive driving, it’s time to put it into action. Below we’ll explore some practical tips for driving defensively:
- Focus on driving and the road: An easy way to define defensive driving is simply to focus and be prepared at all times. This means putting away any distractions (i.e. cell phones or electronics) and focusing on the roads rather than zoning out or worrying about what’s happening inside the car.
- Scanning ahead: Always be scanning far ahead in your field of view. By proactively scanning ahead, you can identify any potential hazards that may be upcoming.
- Maintain a safe distance: When driving behind another vehicle, maintain at least three seconds of distance between each other. This will give you enough time to react if the front driver stops abruptly for whatever reason.
- Communicate with other drivers: Use your turn signals, vehicle lights, and even hand signals to let other drivers know what you’re about to do. Avoid driving in their blind spot, if at all possible.
How to learn defensive driving
There’s a couple of ways you can learn defensive driving. The first is online through your own research. There are plenty of resources that will guide you through defensive driving best practices.
The other way is through a defensive driving course. These courses will help you understand key concepts like the careful driving definition, defensive driving skills, emergency protocol, and more.
As mentioned, completing a defensive driving course can not only improve your skills and safety but can help with demerit reduction and lower insurance rates.
Local driving schools in your area typically offer defensive driving courses. Most are in-class, but some also offer online programs as well. Either way, to be eligible for insurance rate discounts or demerit reductions, ensure the course providers are approved by the state DMV.
Skills for defensive driving
Below are some skills needed for defensive driving that will help you improve safety on the roads:
- Stay alert: Always be wary of what’s going on at all times. Scan ahead, behind, and periodically check your side mirrors. Never drive when you are sleepy or under the influence. That split second can be all it takes when it comes to avoiding an accident.
- Assume worst-case scenarios: You can’t assume other drivers will always make the right decisions. Oftentimes they can make last-minute decisions, such as making sudden stops or turns. Similarly, drivers may not abide by lights at intersections. Drive cautiously and don’t depend on other drivers to drive responsibly.
- Plan for an exit route: Be aware of where you could safely turn-off to avoid any potential hazards. Keep enough space between you and other vehicles so that if a collision is forthcoming, you have room to maneuver away safely.
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If you’ve suffered an injury due to a car accident, defective products, or any catastrophic injury, contact us today for a free consultation.
Valiente Mott is a law firm dedicated to helping personal injury victims. We handle all personal injury matters, including, but not limited to, car crashes, defective products, and catastrophic injury. We are compassionate, yet aggressive when protecting personal injury victims and families who lost loved ones in fatal accidents. Learn more about who we are.
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