How are your defensive driving skills? If they’re not great, you might want to consider taking a defensive driving course. Outside of the fact that a course like this could help turn you into a better driver, it could also help you save a lot of money over time. Some car insurance companies will slash your premiums by up to 20% when you tell them you’ve received a defensive driver education.
If you don’t want to go as far as to take a safe driving class, there are also some simple defensive driving tips that you could begin putting to good use. They won’t save you money like a course will. But they could very well help you avoid certain road hazards and decrease the chances of you getting into auto accidents.
Would you like to improve your driver awareness and start practicing better road safety from now on? Check out our comprehensive guide on automotive safety below, which includes a bunch of great defensive driving tips and tricks.
1. Leave Early
Are you the type of person who is just about always running late when you’re on the way somewhere? In order to put the defensive driving tips listed here into practice, you’re going to need to get out of this habit. If you’re constantly late, you’re going to do things like speed and drive erratically at times when you’re out on the road.
This could, unfortunately, lead to you putting both yourself and others at risk at times. If you need to be somewhere at 9 a.m. and it takes 30 minutes to get there, leaving by 8:15 a.m. would be your best bet. It’ll give you plenty of time to get to wherever it is that you’re going safely.
2. Prepare Accordingly
When you climb behind the wheel of your car to drive it, you shouldn’t just jump right in and head off to wherever it is you’re going. You should prepare for the trip you’re taking, even if it’s only going to take you a few minutes to get there. This will involve you:
- Making sure you have enough air in your tires
- Checking your mirrors to be sure you can see everything all around you
- Putting your smartphone away in a safe place
It’ll only take you an extra minute or two to do these things, but it’ll make a big difference when it comes to automotive safety.
3. Wear A Seatbelt
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 90% of Americans wear seatbelts these days. The NHTSA estimates that these seatbelts save almost 15,000 lives each year.
If you’re someone who is still not wearing a seatbelt every time you get into a car for one reason or another, please work to change that. Your life could literally depend on it.
Once you actually start driving around in your car after making the proper preparations, your head should be on a swivel. You should keep your eyes on everything that’s happening around you at all times. For the most part, that’ll mean keeping your eyes in front of you and looking at things that are happening in the distance. It’ll allow you to make smart decisions as far as what you will need to do next while driving.
You should also occasionally sneak a quick peek at what’s going on behind you. By doing this, you’ll be able to spot someone tailgating you or coming up quickly from the left or right side. It’ll ensure that you don’t make one wrong move and pay the price for it because you weren’t paying attention to what was happening.
5. Obey The Law
Before you get your driver’s license, you have to pass a series of tests to prove that you know the different road laws that exist. There is a good reason for this. You’re going to be expected to follow all of these laws! This might seem obvious to some people. But unfortunately, there are lots of road laws that people break on a regular basis.
If you do this, it could lead to you racking up traffic tickets, getting into auto accidents, or even causing harm to yourself and/or others. With this in mind, you might want to brush up on the latest road laws every so often. It’ll guarantee that you don’t let any of them slip your mind.
6. Expect The Unexpected
Of all the different defensive driving tips on this list, we would argue that this one is the most important. You need to expect the unexpected to happen when you’re driving around in a car. There will be other drivers who get lost and make silly mistakes while they’re out on the road. There will be others who will get distracted by things going on in their cars and make a turn at the last second or slam on their brakes without warning. Additionally, there are going to be pedestrians and people riding around on bicycles who might cross the street without looking or make other sudden movements that’ll catch you off guard.
You should account for this by monitoring their actions and trying to stay away from them. Those on bicycles, in particular, will need to practice defensive driving skills to avoid getting into accidents as well. They should also consider seeking bike accident legal representation if they’re ever involved in accidents that they don’t feel were their fault.
7. Slow Down
Remember those road laws we alluded to earlier? Some of them will have to do with how fast you can drive down different streets and on different highways. These laws are in place for a reason. They’re designed to stop people from driving too fast and not having enough time to slow down to avoid getting into accidents. If you’re routinely driving 5, 10, 15, 20, or even 25 miles per hour over the speed limit, it’ll only be a matter of time before you get into a speed-related crash.
And these types of crashes can be some of the most costly ones of all. You might do extensive damage to your car and suffer injuries or even death due to driving too fast. Give yourself enough time to get to where you need to be, and you shouldn’t have to worry about speeding all over the place.
8. Pass Safely
While it’s important to slow down when you drive, there will be times when you get stuck behind other drivers that’ll be going below the speed limit. This can also be dangerous in and of itself. If you ever get caught behind drivers like this, you’re welcome to pass them as long as there aren’t solid double lines running down the middle of the road.
You’re just going to want to pass drivers with extreme caution and give yourself plenty of time and space to prevent the chance of getting into a head-on collision with people driving in the opposite direction.
9. Maintain Distance
Are you always driving right behind the people who are in front of you on the road? This can quickly turn into a problem if they’re forced to make a sudden stop for whatever reason. It’s why you should give those in front of you enough space while you’re driving behind them.
Generally speaking, you should also give everyone out on the road the space they’ll need to stay safe without your car right next to theirs.
10. Use Blinkers
All cars, trucks, and SUVs come with blinkers for a reason. They’re in place to help drivers signal what they’re going to be doing to other drivers. If you’re going to be making a turn, you should always throw on one of your turn signals first.
Your blinkers are going to let everyone around you know what your next move is so that you don’t surprise anyone by making a turn seemingly out of nowhere.
11. Understand Blind Spots
Almost all vehicles have at least a few blind spots. Blind spots are parts of your car that make it difficult to see what’s happening around you. You should familiarize yourself with the blind spots in your car so that you know where they are. You should also use your mirrors and move your head and eyes around to avoid these blind spots as best you can.
It would also be smart to try to identify the blind spots that other drivers might be dealing with. For instance, many truck drivers have multiple blind spots that they’ll have to put up with. You’ll need to be very careful when you’re driving past a truck or behind one because of its blind spots.
12. Beware Of Intersections
About 25% of traffic-related fatalities and about one-third of traffic-related injuries take place at intersections. You should stick these statistics into the back of your brain when you’re driving and remember them any time you pull up to an intersection. It’s important to practice defensive skills at all times when you’re behind the wheel. But it’ll be especially important to do it at intersections.
A lot of people make crucial mistakes while driving through intersections, so you should be mindful of this and do what you can to stay safe when moving through intersections.
13. Watch The Weather
The weather can wreak havoc on many drivers. The second it starts raining or snowing outside, many people struggle to drive as safely as they would under normal conditions. For this reason, you should watch the weather on TV each day so that you know what it’s going to be like outside.
If you know that it’s going to rain or snow, you might want to try to stay off the road if you can. Or if you have no choice but to drive, you should give yourself even more time than usual and drive a little slower than you do regularly. It’ll help you avoid getting into any weather-related accidents.
14. Avoid Distractions
Distracted driving has turned into one of the biggest issues for many American drivers over the last two decades. People are distracted by everything from their smartphones to their infotainment displays in this day and age. You should do your absolute best to eliminate any and all distractions from your vehicle while you’re driving it. It’ll help you keep your full attention on the road at all times.
You should also be aware of the fact that many other drivers on the road might not be taking the precautions that you are. It’s best to assume that they’re going to be distracted to some degree and practice defensive driving because of it.
15. Drive Sober
This should really go without saying in 2023. But if you know you’re going to be driving a vehicle, you shouldn’t use any drugs and/or alcohol before doing it. Driving sober is the only way to ensure that you’re going to keep yourself safe when you’re behind the wheel.
Even if you’ve only had one or two beers and feel sober, your judgment might be impaired just a little. This could prove to be catastrophic both for you and for everyone else out on the road.
Use These Defensive Driving Tips To Your Advantage
There is no way to 100% eliminate the chances of you being involved in a car accident. All the defensive driving skills in the world won’t be able to stop other drivers from making big mistakes that lead to auto accidents.
But when you use the defensive driving tips listed here, you can greatly reduce the odds of you being involved in auto accidents. You can also make both yourself and your passengers feel so much safer when you’re driving around. Check out other informative articles just like this one by poking around on the rest of our blog.