Five Defensive Driving Tips to be Safer on Virginia’s Roads
Many of us have heard of defensive driving, but few of us know how to drive defensively. Every morning I see examples of aggressive driving on the interstates in and around Norfolk and hear about a series of traffic alerts as accidents cause delays.
Defensive driving is about being alert and careful. It could save your life. Here we provide some defensive driving tips.
Mirrors are key to defensive driving
How to Drive Defensively
1 Look Far Ahead
Many drivers look directly in front of their car but no further. It’s a particular issue with new drivers. Rather than looking at the license plate of the car in front of you, you should look further down the road to anticipate problems that could cause the car in front of you to stop suddenly. If you get into the practice of looking ahead, it will give you a clearer picture and help identify potential hazards.
2 Have an Escape Plan
If you want to be super safe, you should always have a plan B. While you may be an accomplished driver, you can’t always predict what other drivers around you will do. Other factors can lead to things getting out of control, such as debris from trucks or a dog running onto the road. Or maybe a driver has a tire blowout and veers across the highway.
You should plan for every possible emergency. Have a plan for an animal in the roadway or a blowout and mentally think of the scenarios. Ask yourself what you would do if a driver runs a red light or doesn’t stop at a stop sign. Don’t assume they will follow the rules. If you see another car at an intersection, don’t just barrel through. Be prepared to stop or to take evasive action.
3 Maintain a Safe Following Distance
It seems obvious that maintaining a safe distance is a cornerstone of defensive driving, but tailgating happens with alarming regularity, resulting in rear-end accidents.
A safe following distance is just as important, if not more important than maintaining a safe driving speed. Even if you are keeping your speed below the posted speed limit, you may have little time to stop if you are too close to the car in front of you.
At an absolute minimum, you should have at least two seconds of space between you and the vehicle in front of you and that’s in dry weather. Three seconds is even better. Leave a bigger gap when it’s raining or slippery.
4 Use Your Mirrors
Getting the bigger picture is essential to defensive driving. Mirrors are often neglected by drivers. As part of scanning the road ahead and behind, you should quickly glance into your mirrors every few seconds. Just looking at your mirror for a fraction of a second each time will give you a clear picture of your surroundings and help you to identify escape routes.
5 Avoid Distractions
As a driver, you should concentrate on driving and the road conditions and nothing else. It sounds simple but distracted driving has become the scourge of the modern motorist. That’s because there are so many more distractions now than years ago, ranging from your smart phone buzzing to onboard computers, and GPS. You can control distractions, but so many drivers become controlled by their devices or even by other people in the car. If you lack self-control, turn off the ringer on your smart phone and lock it up in the glove box. If you need to change radio stations, wait until you’re at a stop light? If you have your dog in the back of the car with you, make sure he’s restrained so as he can’t jump in the front.
Defensive driving techniques won’t always prevent you being in a car wreck, but they may save your life. If you are hurt in an accident, you should consider Cooper Hurley’s Top Twenty Tips on what you should do. Call us at 757.455.0077 for a free consultation.