Defensive Driving: What You Need To Know

Written by Omid Karimi

Driving can be unpredictable. There are many incidents that could happen on the road. Either you're on your way to work, going out for groceries, or going on a long road trip. It is important to be prepared on how to respond to sudden situations. That is why it's necessary to know how to do defensive driving. 

Well, you can get the idea about defensive driving but what is it exactly?

 It's a set of driving skills that allows drivers to avoid collisions, drunk drivers, and navigate through bad weather.

It's not easy to be a good driver when other drivers are not as careful as you are. It's still a struggle even if you've driven for more than a decade and have acquired skills behind the wheels. 

Defensive driving requires the right mindset and having accurate information. It also takes a lot of practice to safely do the manoeuvers. To do this, you must have in your mind that people make mistakes and others are aggressive drivers. So you have to be prepared on how to avoid road mishaps. 

Here are the defensive driving tips to help you on the road.

1. Give your full attention at all times and avoid all distractions when you're driving.

This includes reaching out to your phone to check messages or fixing your lipstick. You can avoid doing this by putting stuff away from your arm's reach. Being aware also means for you to be on guard. You have to be attentive to your surrounding. Watch out for drivers who keep changing lanes. Do not assume that other drivers will keep going in the same direction and speed. So if something is to suddenly change you'll be prepared for it.

2. Keep your eyes on the road.

It doesn't only mean to look straight ahead but to look at the surrounding situation. The eye lead time refers to the distance your eyes scan the road in seconds. It's important to scan the road from time to time so you can anticipate potential hazards around you. It is recommended to look 12 seconds ahead on the road and to check your mirrors constantly. Things change in a matter of seconds and this could result in accidents. This could be avoided if drivers regularly scan their surroundings. 

3. Not maintaining a safe distance between cars often results in collisions.

That's why it is crucial to keep a safe distance, about 2 seconds, to the car in front of your vehicle. 

And have 4 seconds gap in bad weather conditions (That’s in Queensland, Australia. In other Australian states, this rule varies slightly). 

If there is a sudden stop you'll have time to react and perform manoeuvres when necessary.

4. Communication.

Drivers have a lot of ways to communicate on the road. One of these is using your signal lights. But some tend to forget that they have their turn signals on. 

So it is important to make eye contact with other drivers and clearly indicate what you want to do. But you should not assume that other drivers are thinking the same thing as you. 

5. Don’t be in blind spots.

Keep in mind where the blind spots are when you're driving. So try to avoid driving in the blind spots of other vehicles (especially long vehicles such as trucks and buses), as this may lead to a collision. 

6. Always prepare an exit.

There's no way of knowing when an accident might happen. But it helps to know how to manoeuver your vehicle out of possible accidents. So it's always good to have an escape plan when driving. 

Preparing for an exit plan is making sure you have space around your vehicle. This way, you'll have space where you can get into in case of an emergency. 

Expect every possible situation when on the road. Plan for ways to protect yourself and be prepared to act promptly.

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