Defensive Driving Techniques to Protect Yourself When Behind the Wheel

February 19, 2021

At some point while driving, you’ve come across selfish motorists who won’t give way at an intersection. Some are so erratic that they’ll weave into lanes while talking on the phone. Others will just cut across different lanes while tailgating you.

Situations like these can be annoying and dangerous. They require your full attention and anticipation – and at times, your patience and understanding. If you don’t want to be taken off guard, you have to employ safe driving techniques to protect yourself and others.

Here are some of the defensive driving techniques you can use on the road:

1. Stay Visible at All Times

Before you hit the road, inspect your brake lights to ascertain they’re in good working condition.

Stay away from other motorists’ blind spots. While you’re at it, use your turn signals to alert other drivers on where you’re headed. Make sure your headlights are on when it’s raining and at dusk.

Use the low beam in case the car doesn’t have a daytime running light. This way, you’ll remain visible to other motorists.Turn them off as soon as you park your vehicle.

2. Watch Out for Potential Hazards

Defensive driving is all about remaining proactive and aware of the road conditions and other drivers. This will keep you alert and prepared to tackle potential hazards on the road.

Dangers such as erratic/aggressive drivers, huge trucks turning, or children playing near the road are imminent. This means you should always be ready to take evasive action when necessary. Having a defensive movement will help you plan and act on your escape on time and avoid a dangerous situation.

Large trucks can be a danger to other motorists. Some of them are heavy-laden and may be slow in turning or evading accidents. Other truck drivers may have been on the road for long hours without stopping. Their concentration levels may not be the best at that time, and it’s highly likely for them to cause accidents due to fatigue.

It’s important to stay alert and watch out for hazardous situations.

3. Pull Over Whenever You Feel Unsafe

When you encounter a motorist on road rage or recklessly driving, just yield and let them pass even if you’re on the right. It isn’t worth putting yourself in danger when you can avoid it. Since you cannot control how other motorists drive, try as much as possible to stay safe.

While behind the wheel, don’t allow yourself to be drawn into aggressive and dangerous driving practices like tailgating or overtaking. Doing this will put you in danger of an accident or collision. Defensive driving will keep you away from danger.

4. Adjust to Road Conditions

There are times you’ll encounter different road conditions as you drive. The roads may be slick and wet, snowy, or under construction. During heavy downpours or stormy weather, you’ll need to brake more often than usual.

To do it safely, you should turn off the cruise control and add more distance between you and other motorists. Slow down when necessary too. Also, learn how to detect and react appropriately to hydroplaning.

In snowy weather, remember to slow down your driving. Use the snow chains when the snow accumulates on the highway. Never use snow chains on ice. It’ll be worth investing in snow tires if your area is often snowy and icy. If ice is present, make sure your cruise control is turned off.

5. Stay Safe from Tailgaters

As a defensive driver, you should always focus on the road ahead so you can anticipate danger.

If you discover a motorist following too close, increase the distance between you and them. This will help you see clearly and steer clear of a collision. Slow down gradually and move to the right lane to allow the tailgater to pass. Don’t brake suddenly unless you’re avoiding a collision.

6. Drive with a Clear Mind

Alcohol, drugs, and over-the-counter medicine can alter your focus and response time. Before you decide to take the wheel, assess yourself first. Any mind-altering substance can lead to unprecedented danger while driving. Drunk driving accidents are on the rise, and you don’t want to add to the numbers. Avoid driving buzzed or drunk.

7. Stay Alert

To anticipate other motorists’ actions, you must be alert and aware of your surroundings as you drive. Don’t fixate on the things nearest to you because you’ll miss the most important details of the surrounding.

If you can’t notice the next motorist moving into your lane, you may not manage to react appropriately on time. The best way to be aware of your surroundings is to focus far ahead as you move on.

Don’t just look at the driver in front; look farther to see what the rest of the vehicles are doing. This will help you understand the traffic ahead and anticipate whether to slow down, stop or move forward. Scan the road and the surroundings to see and react to dangerous situations.

8. Use Vehicle Blinkers Appropriately

When behind the wheel, make all your turns and lane changes predictable and smooth by signaling in advance. Improper turn signals or failure to use your blinkers can cause fatal accidents.

9. Follow Traffic Rules and Signs

Don’t just assume everything is alright because you’re going with the flow of traffic. Always follow the right speed, slow down when turning and during light signals, and watch out for construction and other hazards in your way. Make the right turns and stop at the red. This is the only way you’ll arrive safely at your destination.

Why Defensive Driving?

The principal goal of defensive driving is to drive safely without causing an accident. Since you can’t be sure of the other motorists’ actions, the only way to stay safe is by being cautious.

Be alert and active with your surroundings. Keep a reasonable distance from other drivers to avoid accidents. Then communicate with other motorists to make them understand your next move.

In Conclusion

Putting to use your defensive driving skills when driving can keep you and those around you safe. With the techniques above, you’ll be able to minimize accidents and become an excellent example to other motorists too.