8 Defensive Driving Techniques Every Beginning Driver Should Know

Posted June 21, 2023 by in Lifestyle

Although many new drivers associate driving with freedom and fun, there’s a lot more to driving than feeling the wind in your face. There are so many things to pay attention to, it can be difficult to figure out which things really require your attention. There are pedestrians, traffic signs and lights, the radio station, the rearview mirror, and so much more. If you plan on arriving safe and sound every time, there are some defensive driving techniques that beginning drivers should implement to reduce the likelihood of negative outcomes.

1. Stay Focused

This should go without saying, but with so many focal points, it’s hard to know where to focus. In free driving lessons, you’ll likely learn that your focus should be on the road. This is a broad statement that means that you’ll need to keep your mind on driving. You’ll need to consider the road conditions, your speed and position, observing traffic laws, and plenty of other things. Using the phone, eating, and singing along to your favorite tune are just some of the things that can divert your focus from the road, leaving you with less time to react to any problems that arise.

2. Stay Alert

Having all of your wits about you is important when driving. This means that you shouldn’t be under the influence of any substances or sleepy. When driving, drivers need to have all of their faculties present and be able to have an optimal reaction time. Being alert also means looking out for other drivers, and paying attention to other drivers’ brake lights, turn signals, and vehicles on the shoulder. Being alert also means having your volume at a reasonable volume that will allow you to hear any emergency vehicles and the horns of other drivers.

3. Don’t Speed

Speeding is a major cause of vehicle accidents. High speeds will exponentially increase the damage done by any impact. Your speed should match the conditions that are present so that you can maintain control of your vehicle. At higher speeds, small adjustments can lead to big changes. Controlling your speed is a key part of controlling your vehicle.

4. The 3-Second Rule

Collisions are more likely to happen with the vehicle in front of you, which is why it’s important to keep a safe distance between them and you. The three-second rule allows for safe following distance. Simply choose a stationary object and start counting the seconds from when the car ahead of you passes it until you pass it. With every adverse condition, like wet roads, fog, or snow, you should add another second to give yourself enough time to safely stop.

5. Have an Escape Plan

When driving, the safest place to be is where you can be seen. But there are careless and distracted drivers on the road, which is why having an escape route should someone change lanes without looking or turn in front of you is helpful. It’s important to have a way to avoid an accident. Always leave yourself an out.

6. Reduce Distractions

Distractions are anything that keeps your focus off of the road. They include the radio and other controls on the console, talking on the phone, operating a mobile device, and eating. There are lots of distractions out there, but when you’re driving you’ll be safe if you keep your eyes and mind on the road.

7. Don’t Depend on Other Drivers

You only have control of your vehicle, which is why you cannot depend on other drivers to do the safe, practical, or logical thing. It may even be best to assume the worst of other drivers when making decisions. Assume others will run the red light or not allow you to merge, or switch lanes without signaling first. Not depending on other drivers gives you greater control of the situation.

8. Safety First

Keep up with your vehicle’s maintenance and make the necessary repairs so that your vehicle is operating properly. Make sure that you wear your seatbelt and that all of your lights are in working order. Adjust your mirrors before you pull off and don’t have loose items on the floor that can roll around. Do your best to create a safe environment to drive in.

Defensive driving is an important part of being a safe driver. Taking a course in these techniques can even save you money on car insurance or provide you with other benefits in some states. You can check with our local Department of Motor Vehicles or AAA.

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