DRIVE SMART, STAY SAFE: A DEFENSIVE DRIVING GUIDE FOR NEW MOTORISTS
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The new school year has kicked off, and a surge of young and inexperienced drivers have taken to the road. Alarmingly, defensive driving statistics from the NHTSA reveal that 41% of all car accidents can be attributed to recognition errors. These errors include inattention, distractions, and inadequate surveillance, highlighting the importance of defensive driving.
By learning to drive defensively, new motorists can become empowered, responsible, and safe drivers. Learn more from the professionals at DriverZ Los Angeles.
WHAT IS DEFENSIVE DRIVING, AND WHY DOES IT MATTER?
Defensive driving is more than just a skill; it’s a proactive approach to road safety. It involves expecting the unexpected, anticipating potential hazards, staying alert, and making split-second decisions to prevent accidents.
Road conditions can change in an instant thanks to poor weather, hazards in the roadway, or how other drivers behave (or misbehave) on the road. Mastering defensive driving is your ultimate safeguard.
MAKE YOUR EVERYDAY DRIVING DEFENSIVE DRIVING
1. WEAR YOUR SEATBELT.
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This one may be a no-brainer, but only 91.6% of drivers reported wearing their seatbelts in 2022, per the NHTSA. Moreover, it is estimated that 2,549 deaths in 2017 could have been prevented if these individuals had been wearing seatbelts. Before your car moves an inch, buckle up.
2. SCAN YOUR SURROUNDINGS CONSISTENTLY.
It’s incredibly easy to go into “auto-pilot” mode and zone in on the patch of road in front of you. The first rule of defensive driving is to keep moving your eyes! Scan the entire roadway 30 seconds ahead of you. Check your mirrors often and be aware of conditions and the actions of other drivers behind and beside your vehicle.
3. DITCH DISTRACTIONS AND TEMPTATIONS.
You’re on an empty stretch of road, driving at a leisurely speed, and your cell phone lights up with a text message from a friend you haven’t talked to in years. What would you do?
Most people know the dangers of texting and driving, but avoiding it can be easier said than done. The curiosity and temptation of devices, friends, navigation tools, and even eating can quickly create unsafe driving situations.
Instead of fighting the distracting temptations, remove them altogether. Tuck your phone out of sight and out of mind, tell your friend to put a pin in that exciting conversation, and stow away your cheeseburger until you arrive at your destination.
4. STAY AT LEAST THREE SECONDS BEHIND THE CAR IN FRONT OF YOU.
One of the most important rules of defensive driving is the three-second rule. This means that when the car in front of you passes a point on the road, at least three seconds should elapse before you pass that same point. This is typically considered a safe following distance. However, as your speed increases, so should that distance. By preserving this space, you give yourself time to react in case they slam on the brakes or encounter an issue.
5. EXPECT THE WORST FROM OTHERS ON THE ROAD.
It may be in your character to see the best in everyone around you, but the opposite should happen while driving. Expect other drivers to make mistakes, forget to use their turn signals, text while driving, speed, and more.
By expecting the worst, you will stay alert and vigilant. Never assume that people see you or are looking out for you. And don’t be afraid to use your horn and flashers when necessary!
6. SAFELY MAINTAIN YOUR VEHICLE.
Surprise breakdowns can be a recipe for disaster on busy roads, and to drive defensively, you should also keep your vehicle properly maintained. Underinflated tires, worn brake pads, or an engine without adequate oil can put a good defensive driver in a bad situation. Likewise, you don’t want to discover your windshield wipers don’t work at the onset of a torrential downpour. Always remember: the best offensive and defensive driving techniques involve maintaining your car for improved safety.