Best Defensive Driving Tips from the Experts

May 12th, 2015 by

Driving a car is one of the most dangerous things you can do. Your chances of getting into a car accident are higher than just about any other risk you face thanks to the frequency with which you get behind the wheel of a car.

If you’re lucky, you’ll have a minor fender bender and only need to look for auto repair in Cincinnati, OH. However, if you have a serious accident, you could lose your car and be facing life-threatening injuries.

Learning some defensive driving measures can help you reduce your risk, though you will never eliminate it. You just can’t control others on the road. But you can control how you react to them, and the right maneuvers can save your life and the lives of others.

Here are a few of the best driving tips as offered by the experts:

Eliminate Distractions

texting

Everything in your car can be a distraction. Even turning on the radio can be a distraction. When you are turning on the radio or changing the channels, you are taking your eyes off the road. When you are singing, your mind is off your driving. Accidents can happen in a second, so being distracted at all is putting you and other drivers in danger.

Talking on a cell phone or texting while driving are two of the most dangerous things you can do. In the time it takes to look at or reply to a text message, you will have traveled the length of a football field if you are traveling at the average of 55 mph — and that’s without looking at the road. If you absolutely must use your phone, use a hands-free set and voice activation for listening to messages or composing them. The safest thing to do is turn off the phone entirely until you are done driving.

Other distractions include eating while driving, putting on makeup, and talking to other passengers, especially children. Minimize these distractions as much as possible to stay safe.

Look Beyond the Car in Front of You

If you keep your eyes focused on the car right in front of you, you’ll only be able to react to actions that car takes. However, if you focus on the horizon, you’ll see problems that could cause an accident, giving you more time to react. For example, you might see that a car three vehicles in front of you has just swerved, causing the other cars to brake suddenly. Instead of waiting for the car in front of you to brake, you can brake now, increasing your stop time and reducing your risk of an accident.

It’s also important to look for activity on the sides of the road ahead of you. For example, you can see a car speeding from a side street or a cross section in the parking lot, allowing you to stop long before you get to the intersection where the car would smash into your side.

Don’t Speed ahead When the Light Turns Green

intersection

Sure, you have the green light, and green means go. But the cars that have the red light might not actually be stopping. Some of them may even be speeding up to try to beat the red light or to run through it before the cross traffic starts moving. These people often misjudge the amount of time or distance they have available.

Always check the intersection before you move forward after the light turns green. A quick glance to your left and your right should let you know if any cars are speeding their way towards the intersection. You may have the right of way, but it’s better to be safe than in the right.

Stay Away from Bad Drivers

If someone is tail gating you, don’t drive slower, don’t tap your brakes, and don’t stay where you are. You only risk inciting a road rage incident that can escalate quickly and have devastating consequences. If the person is aggressively tail gating you and refuses to pass (or is unable to pass), simply move off to the side of the road and let the person go around you.

If you see someone ahead of you who is swerving, changing lanes quickly or drifting out of the lane, slow down and keep your distance. Don’t get close to that car, and don’t try to pass it. If the behavior persists, call the highway patrol and report the license number. The person could be drinking and driving.

Don’t Make Eye Contact

Woman gesturing out of car window

You don’t necessarily have to do something offensive on the road to encourage road rage. Even if you haven’t tail gated someone or cut someone off, those who are inclined to road rage incidents may be looking for a reason to engage in conflict, and even looking at these drivers can be enough to set them off. Eye contact can be seen as aggressive, especially when it follows an incident such as a fast lane change or a honk.

Whether you feel like you were in the right or you feel like you didn’t do anything at all, just don’t engage with the other driver. Keep your eyes forward and stay out of that person’s way. If the driver continues to trail you, shout at you or make other aggressive gestures, pull off the road. It’s best to go into a store or another public place in case the person follows you.

Don’t Drive While Sleepy

Driving while sleepy can be just as dangerous as driving while under the influence. Your reaction time is delayed and your judgment is impaired. There’s also a serious risk that you could fall asleep behind the wheel, which would have devastating consequences. Even if your lids droop for a few seconds, you could easily veer out of your lane or run into an obstacle.

Always get enough sleep before driving. If you feel tired while driving, pull off to the side of the road and take a quick nap until you are up for the job.

Always Signal Your Intentions

You aren’t a mind reader, so you shouldn’t expect other drivers to be either. Always use your turn signal well in advance of your turn, brake slowly far before you need to stop or turn, and wave to drivers if you would like them to pass or you are allowing them to cut in front of you. The better you communicate on the road, the lower you risk of an accident will be.

You can’t control every driver on the road, nor can you influence the weather or the conditions of the roads. However, you can control how you behave on the road, and that can significantly reduce your risk of an accident, whether it’s just a minor fender bender or a serious accident that results in total loss and major injuries.

If you are in an accident, McCluskey Chevrolet can help with expert auto repair in Cincinnati, OH. We can get your car looking like new again. You won’t be able to tell that the car was ever in an accident, and your car will be just as safe as it was. You’ll be ready to take on the road again.