For some of us, driving is just going from point A to point B. But for others, it is a pleasure. If you heard the term “Defensive Driving” for the first time, read this article carefully. If you know it, then it is a good opportunity to check what you have learnt so far.

28 tips for Defensive Driving

You can’t control the road conditions, you can’t control the weather. But it is up to you to control your vehicle. Defensive Driving lets you do that.  Here are most common 28 tips for “Defensive Driving“:

1. Stay focused always

Distraction is your enemy and the 101 of safe driving starts with focusing. You always have to pay attention the road and your vehicle. A research says that most collisions happen because of distraction. Drivers under 20 are the most prone to distractions.

2. Always buckle up

Seat belts reduce risk of injury in a crash by 50 percent. I don’t say it but National Safety Council says. If you drive very very slowly, it doesn’t matter, buckle up. If you are just waiting in the car and waiting for someone, just buckle up. Buckling up will not kill you but not to buckle up may.  Between 2004 and 2008, 75,000 lives were saved by seat belts. This is an incredible number.

3. Every driver is not a good driver

You may be a perfect driver with zero penalty points on your driver license. But keep in mind that not every driver is a good driver. So don’t count on other drivers and expect them to make mistakes.

4. Don’t drive too fast

Speed is fatal, lethal and it is your enemy. Speed may increase your adrenaline level but at the same time it reduces your chance of living a healthy and long life. According to US Census, 33 thousand fatalities reported due to speeding in 2009.  Another research says that if you drive faster than average, it only gives you maximum 5 minutes advantage to reach your destination. Do you think is it worth to die for 5 minutes?

5. Use safety devices

Recent cars have more safety instruments. New technologies may save your and your kids’ life.  Large airbags, booster seats etc. Invest in the right child restraints and seat belt adjusters for your family, and don’t forget to use them.

6. Doubt is not your friend

Rule is simple, if you have doubt, just yield to other driver. If you know you have the right of way, but another motorist seems to disagree, give in. Better to lose a bit of time than to get caught in a collision.

7. Stop! on Red

Most intersection collisions happen because of red light. Of course it is you who are responsible not the red light. There may be some glare from setting sun or you may be in a hurry. The best practice is to slow down before each intersection, and evaluate the situation. Never try to race the yellow light.

8. Always signal in advance

Confusion is the enemy of safe driving. Make your lane changes and turns predictable and smooth, and always signal in advance. “Nationwide, neglected or improper turn signals cause 2 million car accidents a year,” says Richard Ponziani, who conducted a recent study for the Society of Automotive Engineers. Failure to signal can invalidate your insurance claim after an accident, which means you will be financially responsible for any damage caused.

9. If you are not Mad Max,  forget Road Rage

Road rage is not just an urban myth. Since you don’t know who might be behind the wheel of that vehicle that just cut you off, it’s safest to back away and overlook the offense. Road rage has led to murder over trivial offenses in all 50 states. Getting even could get you killed, not to mention the innocent drivers in your vicinity. If you suspect that another driver may be drunk, stay away, and alert the authorities as soon as it is safe to do so.

10. Do not tailgate

Tailgating leads to rear-end collisions, and you will be the one to foot the bill for the repairs. 1/3 of all traffic accidents are caused by tailgating, and could be prevented with proper distance. Allow at least two or three seconds of lead time in good weather, more in bad weather.

11. Monitor your blind spots

This is especially true of large vehicles, such as tractor-trailers. The rule of thumb for Defensive Driving is that if you can’t see the driver in the truck mirror, he can’t see you either. Accidents involving semi- trucks often prove fatal for the driver of a car.

12. Never drive drunk

Even an over-the-counter cold medication can alter your response times, so assess yourself honestly before deciding to drive. The average drinker can only metabolize one drink per hour. One drink equates to 12 ounces of beer, or 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits. If you are under the influence of any mind-altering substance, stay away from the wheel. Everyday 28 people die daily in the U.S. from drunk driving accidents.

13. Be cautious if it rains

Defensive Driving

When the roads are slippery, especially in a heavy downpour or the first thirty minutes of a storm, your braking times increase. Turn off cruise control. Add extra space between your vehicle and other vehicles. Slow down as much as is feasible. Learn to detect and react properly to hydroplaning.

14. Prepare for snowy weather

Slow down, and use snow chains if you see snow accumulating on the highway, but do not use chains on ice. If you live in an area where snow and ice are common, invest in winter snow tires. Always turn off your cruise control if you suspect ice may be present.

15. Inflate your tires appropriately

Properly inflated tires make for safer handling, and blowouts can cause an instant loss of control. So inflate your tires appropriately, and change them when they are worn if you want to be good at Defensive Driving.

16. Use your headlights wisely

Anytime visibility is impaired on winding roads, during fog, rain, snow, or low light, make sure you can be seen by turning on your headlights. Only use your high beams in low-traffic areas, and turn them down for oncoming drivers.

17. Maintain your vehicle

Regular oil changes and fluid checks can save you from surprise breakdowns on the road. If your car becomes disabled on a busy highway or interstate, the National Safety Council recommends that you try to pull over in the breakdown lane, if possible. Remember to use your turn signals, and watch for fast-moving cars. If you have parked a comfortable distance from traffic, lock the doors and wait for help. You are close to traffic! Then exit the vehicle, and find a safe place to stand, away from the side and rear of the car. If you cannot reach the breakdown lane, and your car is stopped in traffic, leave the vehicle as soon as it is safe to do so, and wait for help in a secure location on the side of the road.

18. Respond safely to tailgaters

If someone is following too closely, add twice as much space between your car and the car in front of yours. This increases your ability to see and prepare for a collision. Then carefully and gradually decrease your speed to slightly below the speed of surrounding traffic, and try to move into a right hand lane, to let the tailgater pass. Do not hit the brakes suddenly, unless you are forced to do so to avoid a collision.

19. Keep a steady pace

Sudden increases and decreases in speed, unexpected lane changes, and unpredictable stops make it hard for other drivers to anticipate your actions. Be predictable and avoid surprising anyone around you.

20. Look far ahead of your vehicle

Keep your eyes far down the road, and expect problems before you come to them. Look for erratic drivers, slow traffic, intersections, and highway debris.

21. Take a defensive driving course

Many defensive driving classes are available online and in your area. This can make a great gift for a young family member, or you can use it as a preventive exercise for yourself.

22. Carry emergency equipment

Carry emergency equipment. – a jack, spare tire , flashlight, first aid kit, flares. You never know what you’ll need in case of emergency and do not think that “it ain’t happen to you”.

23. Lock your vehicle

To be a good Defensive Driver, you should at least have one car. So always lock your vehicle and  take your keys with you when you leave it.

24. Be extra careful near schools

Streets near schools often have reduced speed limits during school hours. Speed limit is 15 mph instead of 25 mph that are designated by signs with flashing lights. Though this limit may seem excessively low when you do not see any children, small kids can hide easily or make sudden movements.

25. Inspect your vehicle before ride

It’s important to inspect a vehicle, whether it’s a company truck or your own car, before hitting the road. If a driver notices an under-inflated tire or an oil patch before heading out, it can save time and annoyance and possibly prevent an accident.

26. If you are sleepy, don’t drive

You want to reach your destination as soon as possible but if your eyes give emergency alert, do not insist driving. Just pull over your car and take a quick nap at least 20 minutes. Being late is better than being dead.

27. Don’t use handheld devices while driving

It is illegal in most states using handheld devices while driving. Many modern cars have advanced Bluetooth systems that allow for hands free speech. You can adjust your car before hitting the road. Also don’t text while driving.

28. Consider your physical condition before driving

A driver’s physical well-being is also important because hearing, vision, and fatigue can all affect your
driving ability. So it’s important to take stock of these factors before driving: Have you got your glasses with you? Did you have breakfast this morning? Did you get enough sleep?

Conclusion: Defensive Driving is a life saver technique for you, your loved ones and other people on the traffic. If you want to learn more advanced tactics, you can take a daily course and you can learn some advanced methods just like race drivers do.