Defensive Driving: Getting Behind the Wheel with Caution
by Jennifer Jordan
People who drive for a living – limo drivers, bus drivers, taxi drivers – often undergo defensive driving as part of their professional development. But, defensive driving doesn’t have to be limited to driving professionals: everyone can benefit from learning how to drive defensively. Driving defensively won’t assure that you are never on the receiving end of a fender bender, but it can help to decrease your chances of calling the police, a tow trunk, and your insurance agent.
Intersections are a prime place for accidents. From people trying to beat a yellow light to those who flat out run reds, intersections are where danger often intersects with safety. Defensively speaking, accidents can’t always be avoided at intersections, but using caution when approaching may help to decrease the risk. The best way to do this is to make sure those who have a red light are actually stopping. When your light turns green, instead of gunning it right away, take a few moments to glance from side to side, making sure the cars with a red light realize they have one.
Be Careful in Bad Weather
Driving defensively in bad weather may take a back seat to driving offensively. After all, you might be busy simply making sure you don’t cause a wreck. But being aware of the cars around you can also help reduce the chances of a fender bender. In icy, snowy, or slushy weather, it’s best to assume cars will slide. At intersections, stop signs, or parking lots, drivers may find themselves pressing on the brakes, only to realize they are not stopping. Always assume that they aren’t; before you proceed through an intersection or a stop sign, make sure that another car isn’t going to slide right through.
Be Weary of Those Who Swerve
We all know not to drink and drive. But, unfortunately, some people don’t heed this law. They get behind the wheel after three drinks or twenty and take to the roadways. Their logic, vision, and reaction time are all compromised, making them an ideal person to cause an accident. There is no real way for you, the defensive driver, to avoid them. Drunk drivers are on the road at all times of day in all places of the world. They can sometimes be spotted easily, swerving inside their lane or into other peoples’ lanes. If you spot someone swerving, maintain a safe distance at all times, then call the police and report them.
Assume Everyone Around you is a Poor Driver
Sure, it may seem unfair, assuming that everyone your on the road with is a bad driver, but making this assumption forces you to use caution, which makes you defensive by nature. If you assume that everyone around you is distracted or driving with a suspended license, you keep a watchful eye on them, preparing yourself to react quickly when you need to.
Defensive driving is a key component to driving safely. While you don’t want to be so defensive that you fail to be offensive, and become one of the poor drivers you fear, defensive driving and offensive driving go hand in hand. The best offense is a good defense, even when automobile safety is concerned.