Although cars are becoming safer all the time, the drivers of them are no more competent. For some people, it’s been decades since they passed their driving test and driving has become so routine and second nature that bad habits have become the norm. You can’t expect other drivers to be safe and law-abiding if you want to stay safe on the road – you have to practice defensive driving.
Don’t be too trusting
If you’re a driver of the new Hyundai Palisade, you’ll know the situation. You sit on the road waiting to turn but the other lane is busy with cars and no-one wants to let you through. Then one car seems to flash its light and you take that as a sign to turn. Nine times out of ten, this is fine and your judgement will be correct. There’s that other time when you misread the signal and an accident ensues. Do not follow these unofficial rules on the road, they may seem friendly but they can cause accidents and invalidate your insurance.
Observe, anticipate, plan
To be a successful defensive driver you need to have your wits about you. If you are in your own headspace and distracted it increases the likelihood of an accident. Advanced drivers always stay tuned into the conditions of the road, how much traffic is on the road, where is the traffic coming from, what type of traffic is there, a school bus could mean children crossing, and a dustbin could mean a garbage truck is around the corner. Advanced drivers, never zone-out they always observe, anticipate, and plan.
Be wary of indicators
Indicators are a very dangerous proposition on the road and they should not always be trusted. Many people use their indicators correctly, but just as many don’t. There are many drivers who simply forget about indicating altogether. Other drivers forget their indicator is running, so it looks like they want to turn left or move lane but they have other intentions. The best rule of thumb is not to trust indicators at all. Watch for other signs of the vehicle’s intention. Check the wheel and the driver if you can see them. Stay cautious.
Create a safety bubble
Typically, you want to stay two car lengths distance from the car in front, and the car behind should be two car lengths distance from you. This doesn’t always happen in practice, however; often other vehicles ride too close to you and don’t create a safe distance. To practice defensive driving make a bubble for your vehicle. Move away from other cars to create space for yourself. This is an extra safety precaution as it gives you more opportunities in the event of an unexpected collision.
If in doubt, pullover
Some people are afraid of flying. That’s no wonder, you take off from the ground, you’re suspended in the air in a metal tube, you’re traveling at more than 500 mph. The truth is flying is far safer than driving. Although fatal driving statistics have continued to fall over the decades it still remains the number one cause of death in most age groups. You can reduce your risk of harm by being vigilant on the road. If someone is driving too fast or dangerously, don’t be afraid to pull over and let them pass.