Learning to drive can be stressful enough without having to worry about what everyone else on the road is doing, but part of becoming a safe, qualified driver is learning to drive defensively. Taking to the road alone after you’ve passed can be a daunting prospect. Here’s a few handy tips on how to deal with other road users, because, whilst you can’t control the actions of others, you can – as a defensive driver – lower your own risk behind the wheel.
The most important part of driving is keeping your mind on the task. Keeping your eye on traffic flow and road conditions, whilst looking at what’s ahead, are all key aspects of staying safe on the road.
Driving defensively means that you anticipate dangerous scenarios. Remember everything you learnt in your driving lessons. Looking at any possible hazards ahead, such as cars at junctions or pedestrians waiting to cross, should become habitual when driving. The more aware you are, the better equipped you will be to avoid an accident.
Consider the road conditions
Adjusting your speed during adverse weather, or at night, is an important part of driving defensively. Stoppage time in wet weather can be up to 4 times higher than in dry driving conditions, so slow down!
Likewise, driving at night can present a whole new host of hazards. Instead of children playing on the sidewalk, there may be animals in the road or potholes that you can’t see until it’s too late. Again, drive at an appropriate speed, and be sure not to blind anyone coming the other way with your full beam!
Leaving space between you and the vehicle in front ensures that you have enough braking time in case they come to a sudden stop. If you think the car behind you is traveling too close, the temptation may be to speed up. Instead, you should drop back, increasing the gap in front even more. That way, the driver behind is forced to slow down, and if you so need to perform an emergency stop, there will be adequate distance between you and car in front.
Expect the unexpected
You should always assume that there will be something in the road that you’ll have to stop for. Imagine your driving on a winding country road, and on a bend there’s a cyclist. Fine, if there’s no cars coming the other way, but if there is, you’ll have to brake suddenly or swerve to avoid them.
Be prepared. Drive cautiously if you can’t see what’s ahead, but don’t be so hesitant that you hold up the traffic. It’s all about finding the right balance!
Finally, follow the rules of the road
Keep to the speed limit, and be courteous of other drivers. Study road signs, be aware of when it’s your right of way, and keep to it. If another motorist drives aggressively, don’t rise to it. Be a cool, calm and safe driver!
Training yourself to become a defensive driver is easy once you know what to look out for. Keep yourself, and your passengers, safe by reducing the risk of a road traffic accident with the help of these tips, and defensive driving will become second nature in no time!
This is a guest post written by defensive driver and blogger, Isabelle Guarella, from PassSmart.com.