Every driver needs sufficient knowledge on defensive driving to stay safe. To learn how to drive defensively, take our online defensive driving course.
- Defensive driving strategies and tips will help keep drivers safe.
- Important skills of defensive driving are to learn traffic laws and how to drive in weather conditions.
- Insurance companies provide defensive driving discounts and can be a great motivator to learn to drive safely.
Top 5 Defensive Driver Strategies
Keep your attention on the road; it can be dangerous to look away from the road for too long. When you don’t pay attention to the road, you are at risk of causing an accident.
You should keep a safe distance from other vehicles when you drive. You can’t predict the actions of the car in front of you; they could brake or swerve without warning.
Be aware of your surroundings and look far in advance. Watch out for other cars and pedestrians. Look at the road in front of you, especially when driving in rain or snow.
Take precautions when you drive. You can take precautions when you glance at mirrors, wear your seat belt, and pay attention to other drivers.
You should attempt to foresee potential risks when you drive, such as hazards in traffic. When you learn to foresee while driving, you have a higher chance of driving safely.
Defensive Driving Tips
Regardless of if you are comfortable in your driving skills, you can’t control external elements like other drivers’ actions, bad weather, bad road conditions, or other unforeseen hazards. It’s best to maintain the following distance of 3–4 seconds from the car in front of you in order to lessen the likelihood of a collision.
The ability to stay safe is recommended when driving a vehicle. To ensure your safety, you should drive at the appropriate speed limit and heed to weather conditions.
You can use your rear-view mirror and side mirrors to see most of the road behind you. Mirrors are useful when you are preparing to change lanes; they give you a good idea of where other cars are on the road.
Ensure that you and your passengers are properly secured. In the event of a car accident, this is the single most crucial action you can do to safeguard your life and the lives of your passengers.
Never presume that another driver will merge with you or move out of the way. Anticipate that drivers will ignore stop signs or red lights and be ready to respond.
Never Drive Impaired
Do not use drugs or alcohol during or prior to driving your vehicle. You should designate a driver to ensure a safe route home for you and others drivers on the road.
Tips for Safe Travel
Read Road Signs
Familiarize yourself with the rules of road signs. Road signs inform you of where to go, how fast to drive, and warn you of hazards on the road. Pay attention to road signs when you travel. If your GPS fails, road signs will help you know where you are.
It can be tiresome when you drive for long distances, so plan ahead and make sure there are convenient places to stop on your travel route. Avoid stopping on the side of the road, unless there is an emergency.
Have something to eat when you plan to drive for a long period of time. Don’t drive drowsy, make sure to have plenty of rest before you start on your long journey. Have something to listen to. You are at risk of falling asleep when your surroundings are too quiet, especially when you are tired. Listening to music or audiobooks can help direct your focus on the road.
Consider a Travel Companion
Long road trips can become tedious when you are alone. It is safer to travel with company since they can help you stay focused and navigate you to your destination.
Of the 1,600 traffic fatalities at intersections per year, over half are caused by drivers who run red lights. Furthermore, nearly a third are caused by drivers who fail to yield in appropriate situations at traffic signals.
Since each state is allowed to set its own driving laws, state legislatures typically write the traffic laws. Although no state has fully embraced the Uniform Vehicle Code, the majority of state highway codes are based on the law. However, since all states accept licenses from other states as valid, having a common basis guarantees that traffic laws are the same throughout all jurisdictions.
Unless there is signage at the intersection that says otherwise, you can turn right on red in all states. But you must first stop at the light and look for oncoming traffic before you can turn when the light is red.
On multi-lane highways, keep to the right. Although there isn’t much uniformity in state legislation regarding driving in the left lane, most states do have certain restrictions on using the left lane to pass.
When you notice a siren behind you, you should pull over, stop, and wait until a police car or fire engine passes. At stop signs, come to a complete halt and scan the area for other vehicles and pedestrians before continuing. Never pass a bus that is stopped and has a stop sign to its left; this indicates that kids are crossing the roadway. Always be alert when parking your car by disabled signs, fire hydrants, and bus stops.
What Is Classified As Distracted Driving?
When you engage in any activity that takes your focus off the road, you are driving distracted. Cell phone and other handheld device use, conversations with passengers, eating and drinking, reading, adjusting the radio, and using a navigation system while driving are all examples of distractions.
What Are the Most Important Skills of Defensive Driving?
Being aware while driving will help you avoid an accident. You should be aware of all external hazards such as road construction, obstacles in the road, other drivers, and pedestrians.
Limit cell phone use, and use hands-free accessories if needed. If possible, ask a passenger to make calls or send texts for you. Avoid using your phone in bad weather or heavy traffic. Other examples of potential distractions include pets, other passengers, eating or drinking while driving. When you limit distractions while driving, you are more likely to stay safe.
Driving in Weather
Weather changes on a daily basis, be aware of the conditions you may encounter in your place of residence. You should adjust your car settings and tires to correspond with the season.
When To Drive Slow
Don’t assume that just because you’ve driven through snow a few times, you’ll be ready for any emergency. Like rain, snow and hail are composed of water. The risks of your tires losing traction on the road because of the snow are just as real as they would be in the case of rain. There are some fundamental rules that you can abide by to make sure that your ride is as smooth as possible while avoiding hydroplaning or other risks connected with snowy or icy roads.
Perhaps even more deadly than snow or any other type of weather is rain. The tendency of drivers to underestimate the risks of driving on wet roads is what causes the majority of accidents in the rain. Drivers frequently believe they can go at normal speeds despite the slick conditions and reduced visibility typical of rain.
When driving in fog, slow down as you would in rain or snow. If you’re using lights, employ only the headlights; never the high beams. Using your high beams in fog is not helpful, because the fog will reflect the light back at you and impair your vision. Regular headlights are still necessary so that other drivers can see you.
Look for roadside reflectors or right-side pavement markings to help you navigate and avoid going off road. Avoid using center pavement markings as points of reference, as they will guide you closer to oncoming vehicles. Some vehicles come equipped with fog lights that further improve visibility. As always, remain focused and keep your attention fully on the road in front of you.
When people think of dangerous weather, their minds most often turn to the conditions we have already covered: rain, snow, and hail. But for drivers, high winds can also be one of the most dangerous conditions out there.
How To Drive in Snow
When driving in snow, drive slow and start slow. Do not slam on your brakes; ease off the gas or gently press your brakes if necessary. If your car starts to slide, don’t turn away from the direction your car is sliding or you will spin around. Try to keep your car straight and don’t overcorrect; the smallest of movements could result in sliding.
Do not attempt to drive anywhere until nearly all the ice, snow, and fog on your windows and mirrors has been cleared away. Scraping off just enough to be able to see directly in front of you is not sufficient. In winter especially, visibility is the most important element of driving, so take the time to clean off the ice completely.
Drivers vs. Reaction Time
Each driver has a different reaction time. The average motorist may have a slower reaction time of 0.5 seconds, 0.8 seconds, or even 1 second. A professional driver who is educated in high-speed driving and may have a reaction time of 0.2 seconds in a given situation.
A driver who manages a vehicle that is part of a fleet is known as a fleet driver. A fleet of vehicles used to transport people, cargo, or workers providing field services is referred to as a commercial fleet.
Implementing a fleet safety training program with the main objective of creating a supportive safe workplace is favored for a number of reasons. The program can be more successful if you, your management team, and drivers are committed to learning how to increase fleet safety.
Make a plan and highlight potential issues. Set your objectives by addressing the issues you investigated. Setting a goal with a number is preferable to declaring a goal without any quantifiable outcomes. Outline three realistic objectives that you can change as the program goes on.
There are several strategies to increase fleet safety, improve scores for Compliance, Safety, and Accountability, and increase driver retention. You can also reduce the cost of insurance premiums, auto claims, and property damage.
Insurance & Defensive Driver Courses
There are many things you should consider before enrolling in a defensive driving training course to decrease your insurance. A few things to consider before enrolling is that each insurance company has its own policy, and each state has its own regulations on defensive driver discounts.
There are several types of discounts such as teen, student, and senior discounts. Teens and college students are prone to higher car insurance because they are most at risk of car accidents. If you are in this age range, make sure you are aware of defensive driver course options. In addition, senior drivers are also at risk of high accident rates. Many insurance companies provide options for senior defensive driving course discounts.
The reduction on your insurance for defensive driving might range from 5 to 15%, depending on your coverage. The discount is good for three years, after which you can take the course again to renew it.
Discounts might not be offered in any states at all, while in other places it might only be provided to senior citizens. If you are 55 years of age or older, defensive driving discounts are frequently available in several states.
Something to consider is that defensive driving training only provides discounts if you haven’t been convicted of a traffic offense or been involved in an accident where you were at fault, and you took the course on your own, not as a result of an order of a court or other governmental entity.
Each state has different requirements for defensive driving training. In Texas, for example, you would need to consider the following to qualify for a defensive driving discount:
- You don’t currently have a commercial driver’s license
- You haven’t completed a defensive driving course in the last 12 months
- You haven’t taken a course for another driving offense
If you are considering a course in defensive driving, view Hard Hat Training’s Defensive Driving Courses. Hard Hat Training can provide you with courses in English and Spanish.