Part of learning to drive is learning how to be a safe driver, not endangering anyone on the road or in your car. One method of driving that can reduce the risk of collision or other driving incidents is called defensive driving. Safe Practices for Motor Vehicle Operations defines it as: “driving to save lives, time, and money, in spite of the conditions around you and the actions of others.”
Defensive driving is anticipating possible dangerous scenarios and avoiding them through your driving actions. For example creating a gap between your car and the car in front give you time and space should the car ahead unexpectedly brake suddenly.
There are 10 basic concepts of defensive driving that Road Driver list and they are:
1. Don’t start the engine without securing each passenger in the car, including children and pets. Safety belts save thousands of lives each year.
2. Leave space to escape dangerous situations.
3. Slow down, especially during inclement weather conditions or at night.
4. Always adhere to speed limits.
5. Concentrate on your driving at all times and keep a watchful eye on pedestrians and pets along the roadside.
6. Expect the unexpected and plan for escape routes.
7. Never drive if you are impaired by lack of sleep or being under the influence.
8. Check your mirrors frequently.
9. Assume that drivers will run through stop signs or red lights and be prepared to react.
10. Follow the rules of the road. Don’t contest the right of way or try to race another car. Be respectful of other motorists.
You can become a defensive driver by always checking your mirrors to be sure it is safe to pull away, brake or begin the manoeuvre you want to do. Be aware of what is going on all around you, and keep an eye on the horizon so you can be alerted early to any upcoming obstacles or approaching cars. It is also recommended that you try to establish eye contact with pedestrians and other road users in order to confirm they have seen you. If you notice a car parked on the side of the road has its wheels pointed out to the right check it isn’t about to pull out in front of you.
Kidshealth.org suggests you cut out all distractions so you can focus on the road and your driving. That could be your phone, the radio anything that you know could divert your attention. The site also recommends you separate any risks you have noticed: “When faced with multiple risks, it’s best to manage them one at a time. Your goal is to avoid having to deal with too many risks at the same time.”
Keeping all these tips in mind can help you become a safer driver on the roads once you have passed your test.