Defensive Driving Tips to Be Safe on the Road

American roads and highways can be a dangerous place, especially when drivers resort to aggressive and risky driving maneuvers with little or no consideration for other motorists and pedestrians. In fact, in 2019 alone, car crashes in the U.S. caused around 39,000 deaths and 4.4 million serious injuries, as reported by the National Safety Council. Human error accounts for more than 90% of all car crashes in the U.S., with drunk, drowsy, and distracted driving being particularly dangerous. With so many drivers causing chaos on the American roads and highways, you need to practice defensive driving to keep yourself and other motorists safe.

Here are five defensive driving tips that you can follow to ensure greater safety for yourself and others on the road.

Tip #1 Scan your Surroundings

When driving, do not keep your eyes fixed on the road in front of you. Instead, scan your surroundings continuously, which will allow you enough time to maneuver or brake in case of an emergency. Additionally, studying the area around your car will enable you to identify potential hazards and road signs, including, among others:

  •  Road direction signs
    •    Road warning signs
    •    Motorists or pedestrians who may be flouting traffic rules

Tip #2 Brake Early

To avoid braking abruptly, ensure there’s adequate braking space between your car and the car in front of you. Moreover, if the vehicle in front of you begins to slow down, do the same to avoid sudden brakes. While at it, tap your brake pedal several times to warn the driver behind you.

Similarly, when driving in slippery conditions, begin braking earlier than you usually would on drier terrains as you may need more room to stop your car.

Tip # 3 Avoid Bad Drivers

In essence, any driver who drives recklessly is a bad driver. Examples of such drivers include drivers who drive under the influence of drugs/alcohol and drivers who engage in aggressive driving behavior. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), examples of aggressive driving include, among others:

  •  Ignoring stop signs and lights
    •    Weaving through traffic
    •    Speeding
    •    Driving too closely behind another car

If you spot such a driver, make sure to stay out of their way and, if possible, report them to the relevant authorities.

Tip #4 Avoid Road Rage Situation

In addition to avoiding reckless drivers, you should also avoid road rage situations. For example, suppose you’re driving within the speed limit, and your driving upsets a time-crunched driver who decides to honk his horn repeatedly. Do not engage with the irritated driver in any way, which includes making eye contact. Instead, slow down, and allow the driver to overtake you. This way, you will be able to prevent the situation from escalating into ugly road rage.

Tip #5 Always be Prepared

While driving, always be alert and ready to perform evasive maneuvers to avoid an accident. Always make sure to sit upright in your driver’s seat with both hands on the steering wheel. At the same time, keep your eyes moving, continually scanning the road ahead as well as the area around your car. If you see any road hazard, slow down, change lanes, or immediately take any other appropriate action.

A little patience and general goodwill can go a long way in avoiding unnecessary dramas on the road. Put these five practical defensive driving tips in use to keep yourself and other motorists safe.

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