Motor vehicle accidents are scary, disorienting and often cause major physical and financial damage.
While it is impossible to prepare for an unexpected collision, there are habits drivers can practice that will increase the likelihood of staying safe while on the road. Defense driving is about planning for risks and developing strategies to avoid them.
Drivers should take proactive steps to prepare for a trip so that focus can remain on the road. Look up directions ahead of time for unfamiliar destinations. Set temperature controls, seat adjustments and radio controls before leaving. Deal with anything that will pull focus from the road before driving.
The weather can cause hazards and delays. A defensive driver will look up the weather forecast, especially for long trips where the weather may change multiple times during the drive. Allow for extra time and adjust speed for snow, rain or extremely windy conditions.
Electronic devices are an obvious distraction these days. If a hands-free option is not available, silence electronic devices and put them out of reach while on the road. Passengers are often a huge distraction, but they can accomplish tasks the driver should not engage in while behind the wheel.
Everyone learns in driver education that a certain number of car lengths should exist between vehicles while driving so that drivers may react to sudden stopping or swerving. There are additional benefits to leaving space between vehicles. With a larger field of vision, drivers are able to see the flow of traffic ahead and make adjustments. Exits and stoplights are visible with more warning giving drivers more space and time to change lanes when needed.
Defensive drivers are proactive in considering their safety and the safety of others. Practicing defensive driving habits puts more control over safety into the hands of the driver.