What Does Driving Defensively Mean?
Many drivers feel confident behind the wheel. This feeling can lead them to let their guards down and drive without extra vigilance, which is oftentimes needed to prevent accidents due to other drivers’ reckless behaviors.
To put this in perspective, a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that 85% of car accidents caused by drivers were due to errors in recognition, poor decision-making, or poor driver performance.
Driving defensively essentially increases awareness while behind the wheel and prepares drivers to anticipate things that happen around them. This can actively prevent some of the most common ways why accidents occur in the first place.
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Here are some ways that you can hone your own defensive driving skills and help eliminate the possibility of being involved in a serious auto accident:
Don’t Rely on Other Drivers
While it may seem unfair, you shouldn’t completely rely on other motorists to drive with the care and awareness that they should. Once you start expecting certain behaviors from other drivers, you let your guard down.
If something out of the ordinary happens and you need to make a quick maneuver, you won’t be prepared and may wind up in an accident. Instead, operate your vehicle with the mindset that other drivers may not always behave as they should. This way, you will be better prepared to potentially prevent a crash.
Focus on the Task of Driving
Over 80% of drivers admit to multitasking while behind the wheel, which means that 4 out of 5 motorists drive while distracted. A distraction counts as anything that takes your eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, and/or mind off of driving. This is actually quite frightening, considering that distracted driving causes nine deaths and another 1,000 injuries in the U.S. each day.
Activities that can count as distractions while driving include:
- Eating or drinking
- Putting on makeup
- Changing a CD or song
- Texting or answering a call
Eliminate all forms of distractions so you can stay vigilant and make any maneuvers if you need to avoid colliding with another vehicle.
Yield to Other Drivers
If you’re ever in doubt about who has the right of way, always yield to other drivers. Even if it is your right of way, you should remember that others on the road may not understand this or even be aware of your presence. Failing to yield can result in an accident and lead to injuries for all parties involved.
Keep Your Vehicle in Good Condition
Safe driving isn’t just limited to what you’re doing when behind the wheel. A vehicle that is operating as it should is less likely to malfunction on the road and potentially cause an accident.
Because of this, it’s important to keep your vehicle maintained, including:
- Changing your oil at recommended times to avoid engine failure
- Rotating your tires
- Checking your head and tail lights regularly
Consider Weather Conditions
It’s important to remember that safe and defensive driving habits may change in various types of weather. On a normal day when weather conditions are normal, for example, defensive driving may entail driving no faster than the speed limit and putting a safe distance between you and the car in front of you.
However, during times of adverse weather conditions, driving defensively may mean that you drive well under the speed limit and increase the distance between you and the vehicles in front of you. This is especially true in rain and snow, when visibility decreases and your tires may have less traction.
Keep Your Cool
We’ve all been there: you’re driving to work, for instance, and another driver does something near you that is inconsiderate or outright reckless. This causes you to have to brake hard or swerve in order to avoid colliding with this vehicle.
It’s understandable that situations like these can leave you caught off guard or angered. However, remember that you should never respond to negligent driving with more negligent driving. Driving defensively is making sure you resist the urge to get angry on the road and respond with aggressive driving yourself.
In the event that a car collision does occur, establishing who is at fault is essential to a car accident claim. You may have been driving defensively yet sustained injuries due to another driver’s negligence.
If this is the case, our legal team is here to:
- Look at the details of your accident
- Determine what parties were liable for your damages
- And fight for your financial recovery in and out of court