On any given day, your experience behind the wheel can range from uneventful to dramatic, which is why defensive driving is so important. Knowing how to avoid or defuse potentially dangerous situations can help keep you a great deal safer on the road, and possibly prevent an incident that could raise your auto insurance premiums.
It all begins innocently enough; you get cut off in traffic by a discourteous driver and, depending on your mood at the time, either look the other way or grossly overreact. You lean on your horn and gesture at the offending motorist and the race is on. Tailgating, swerving from lane to lane, and risking injury or death, trying to prove a point. What point?
Two wrongs don’t make a right. That’s why, below you’ll find eight easy-to-follow defensive driving tips to assist you in staying calmer behind the wheel.
1. Don’t react in like – In other words, just because some guy cuts you off, don’t chase him down in response. Or, if he gestures rudely, avoid responding with the same gesture. Things can get ugly really fast…and, you could be putting your life, the life of someone riding in the car with you, or the lives of innocent motorists at risk by your behavior. Let the other driver go. It isn’t worth it.
2. Don’t get in the way – Avoid driving in the fast lane unless you’re driving the speed limit or above. If someone comes up fast on you, get out of the way. Signal and move over to the next lane. No one voted you “King of the Road” or appointed you “Cop for the Day”. So, it isn’t your job to slow other motorists down or to impede them just because they’re speeding. This may only infuriate already aggressive and angry drivers. If they want to get past you…let them.
3. Don’t try to take the right of way – Even if you have the right of way, should another driver challenge you for it, don’t insist on going for it at any cost. Yield anyway. The whole idea, here, is to avoid a confrontation and get home safely. Proving you’re right isn’t.
4. Don’t ignore your surroundings – Always be aware of what’s going on around you by being aware of your surroundings. Don’t allow distractions, such as texting, talking on a cell phone, applying lipstick or any other activity to take your eyes off the road. If an aggressive driver is nearby and is irritated by your behind- the-wheel behavior…it could set him off. Furthermore, it could keep you from noticing cars braking ahead or put you at an unsafe disadvantage.
5. Don’t be overconfident – We all rate ourselves as excellent drivers. Some of us are slightly misguided…and, fall short of that. Therefore, don’t overestimate your driving ability. Speeding and cutting in and out of traffic can prove to be quite dangerous, especially in bad weather. Know your limitations…and, those of your car.
6. Don’t be afraid to take a defensive driving course – You might be surprised at how much of your “good” driving habits and ability have decreased over the years. Don’t look at it as embarrassing – look at it as a way to improve your driving skills and to save some money on your auto insurance, since most insurance companies offer discounts for completing the course.
7. Don’t drive if tired or drowsy – Food for thought: the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that more than 56,000 crashes a year are caused by drowsy drivers. You don’t want to join that club. Sleepy drivers are just as dangerous as drunk drivers and the outcome is usually the same. Take a nap before heading out. Drink some coffee and get some fresh air every few miles. And, if none of it is working…pull over and get some sleep. Stay alert and stay alive.
8. Cool is the rule – The way you approach your daily commute will dictate how well it goes. Stay cool and calm, even if traffic is bogged down. Listen to calming music…not political talk. Be smart and avoid getting angry, no matter what. And, leave the aggressive driving to the other guy. Just stay out of his way.
By following these 8 simple tips on a daily basis you might find renewed enjoyment in driving.