Did you know that the average number of car accidents per year in the US is 6 million?
That’s right – and more than 3 million people are injured each year. Statistics like this might put you off driving altogether, but luckily, there are ways you can increase your safety on the roads.
By practicing defensive driving techniques, you reduce the risk of car accidents and prepare yourself for reckless behavior and dangerous road conditions.
Ready to learn how to stay safe in your vehicle?
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Keep Your Distance
Driving too close to the vehicle in front of you is one of the worst driving habits.
If the driver in front needs to brake suddenly, you’ll struggle to stop in time and this could lead to a collision.
The risk is intensified if weather conditions are bad, as stopping distance is increased when the road is wet or icy.
On top of that, if drivers behind you also struggle to stop in time, multiple cars could become involved in rear-end accidents.
Follow the three-second rule by looking at a fixed object on the side of the road, then counting how long it takes you to reach it after the car in front passes it. If it’s less than three seconds, increase your distance.
Extend the rule to six-seconds during wet conditions.
Keeping a safe distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front isn’t difficult, but it could save your life.
2. Avoid Dangerous Distractions
Driving while distracted is a guaranteed way to increase your risk of an accident.
Most of us know that staring at a phone or putting on makeup while driving isn’t a smart idea, but other activities can be just as risky.
Some lesser-known distractions include talking on the phone, even using Bluetooth, chatting to passengers, eating or drinking, smoking or vaping, and changing songs on the radio.
While you’re driving, your full attention should be on the road at all times.
Reaching for a sweet or tapping your handsfree system to make a call might seem harmless enough, but it only takes a split second for an accident to happen.
Stay safe by pulling over any time you need to do something.
3. Be Aware of Weather Conditions
Driving in bad weather requires a lot more thought than taking a spin on a sunny day.
You’ll need to consider increased stopping distances, increased risk of skidding, and decreased visibility and control.
Before getting into your car, you should clear away any ice, snow, or condensation, ensuring you can see properly via windows and mirrors.
Next, make sure that your car is topped up with anti-freeze so that you’re able to clean your windscreen as needed. Check the condition of your tires to ensure they’ll grip the road properly while it’s slippery.
While driving, pay close attention to the condition of the road and reduce your speed as needed. Take corners slowly, avoid harsh braking and acceleration, and be sure to use your lights for greater visibility.
If the sun’s bright, be sure to wear glasses to avoid being dazzled – particularly if there’s snow for the light to reflect off.
Driving during bad weather conditions is best avoided, but following the advice above will help you stay safe if you absolutely have to travel.
4. Don’t Always Trust Indicators
How many times have you watched someone indicate in one direction, then drive off the opposite way?
We’ve all been there.
Unfortunately, many drivers use their indicators incorrectly or make last-minute changes to the direction they’re planning to drive in.
To avoid collisions, you need to pay close attention to more than just the indicators. Look at the speed of the car, their position on the road, and the angle of their wheels.
If someone appears to be driving in a different direction than their indicator suggests, err on the side of caution and let them go before you move closer.
Indicators should always be taken with a grain of salt. Expect the unexpected and stay alert, and there’s less chance that you’ll be caught off guard.
5. Control Your Speed
Do you often find yourself accelerating aggressively and braking harshly?
That’s a clear sign that you’re not controlling your speed well.
As well as making it more likely that you’ll be involved in an accident, this style of driving uses more fuel, costing you more and damaging the environment.
To drive in a safer, more eco-friendly way, try to accelerate smoothly, keep your speed steady when driving down straight roads, and look ahead to ensure you have plenty of time to brake gently.
Being in the car with a safe driver practicing good defensive driving techniques shouldn’t feel like riding a stomach-churning roller coaster.
Keep your speedy stead, observe the road around you, and avoid harsh acceleration and braking. Your passengers and fellow drivers will thank you.
6. Observe and Plan Ahead
All defensive driving techniques rely on one core principle: Observing and planning ahead.
This could mean observing that your tires need replacing and planning to get them replaced before making any long trips.
Or, it could mean observing an erratic driver in front of you and slowing down to avoid any possible issues.
The more you observe your surroundings, the better you’ll be able to identify potential hazards and take steps to avoid them.
Defensive driving is all about prevention – don’t wait until there’s a problem to change your driving style.
Why Practice Defensive Driving Techniques?
Unfortunately, car accidents are one of the most common causes of serious injury and death across the world.
While you can never completely eliminate the risks, you can keep yourself and your passengers much safer by practicing defensive driving techniques.
You’ll be better prepared to deal with hazards, more wary of other drivers, and less likely to have an accident as a result of poor conditions.
It’s not hard to practice defensive driving, but it could save your life.
Check out our guide to car accident lawyers for everything you need to know.
If you’ve been injured by someone who didn’t avoid your accident like they should have, Stephen Babcock is standing by to help you.
Your case — and your future will be our top priority. When we meet with you, we will review your case with you for free and after you hire us you will have Stephen’s 100% Client Satisfaction Guarantee.
If you have any questions about this article or want to contact us, call Stephen at (225) 500-5000 or do so here.
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