Tips for Becoming a Safer Driver

The world can be a dangerous place. Whether you are at home climbing a ladder to clean out the gutter, driving to work, walking through a park, or filling up a grocery cart, accidents can happen to anyone at any time.

One of the most common causes of injuries or deaths in the United States is motor vehicle accidents. Even if you are a relatively cautious driver, there are so many circumstances around you that you cannot control, such as other drivers, pedestrians, road conditions, and weather. The key to being safe while on the road is to drive defensively.

Being a safe driver and being a defensive driver is not the same thing. You could be a safe driver who obeys all the rules of the road, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you are driving defensively. Here are a few characteristics of a defensive driver that can protect you while in your motor vehicle.

Don’t Depend on Other Drivers

Many car accidents occur because one or more drivers behaved unexpectedly in a given situation. For example, say you are entering a highway via an on-ramp. You are expected to yield to traffic that is already on the highway, but many drivers will switch lanes near an on-ramp to allow drivers to enter the highway freely. You should not expect this every time you try to merge onto a similar roadway. Some drivers may decide not to switch lanes to give you space, or they may not be able to for a reason that you cannot see. This is why you should never depend on drivers to do what might be expected or courteous. With this mindset, you are less likely to encounter a dangerous situation where you have to hope that another driver behaves a certain way to avoid colliding with you.

Keep Your Eyes On a Swivel

One of the keys to being a defensive driver is staying cognizant of your surroundings at all times. When you have been driving for years, it can feel like second nature and you may start to relax your alertness. Constantly checking your mirrors, seeing what other vehicles are around you, and noting what is up ahead can keep you safe if something unexpected occurs. When you have been checking your surroundings, you can react to dangerous situations with more knowledge. Get in the habit of keeping your eyes on a swivel to notice upcoming road conditions, what is behind you, and what is in your blind spots. 

Approach Intersections with Caution

Intersections are one of the most common locations for accidents to occur. When multiple lanes converge, there are plenty of things that can go wrong. Being a defensive driver means assuming that not everyone will follow the rules of the road. Even if you have a green light, keep an eye on other roads to make sure no one is trying to anticipate a light change or make a right on red into your lane. If you are in an area with pedestrians, keep an eye out for jaywalkers, which are one of the most common causes of pedestrian accidents. Be especially cautious when you have to make a left turn at an intersection, as you may have to wait for several lanes of traffic to clear before you do so. Defensive drivers are aware of potential dangers before they happen, so approaching intersections with caution could save you from a collision.

Anticipate Danger

The most important characteristic of a defensive driver is being able to anticipate danger. While you can be a safe driver simply by being aware of your surroundings, anticipating risks on the road can help you position your vehicle to get to safety if something goes wrong. For example, imagine you are on a two-lane highway and a car accelerates past you at a high speed on the left, but they come up behind another vehicle going slowly in their lane. They might decide to cut in front of you suddenly to get past that vehicle as well. When you notice this scenario playing out, consider slowing down a little or having your foot over the brakes in anticipation of this action. This could save you from getting into a collision with the speedster and having to call a car accident lawyer to help with your claim. Anticipate danger while on the road and have an escape route in mind to be a safer driver.  

Proactive Vs Reactive

The biggest difference between safe drivers and defensive drivers is being reactive rather than proactive. Defensive driving courses by driving instructors near dallas will help you react to situations around them before anything goes wrong so that they are prepared to take action and avoid risks.  They do this by anticipating danger, keeping their eyes on a swivel, approaching intersections cautiously, and not depending on the actions of other drivers. While this may seem like a paranoid approach to driving, it eventually becomes second nature and you will no longer realize that you are doing it. Practice these defensive driving tips and protect yourself from potential accidents every time you get into your car. 

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