Defensive Driving The Basics

Defensive Driving The Basics

Defensive driving is​ probably the best way to​ ensure the safety of​ you, your​ passengers and​ your​ vehicle. Defensive driving describes the skill of​ being able to​ operate a​ motor vehicle in​ such a​ way that reduces the chance of​ being involved in​ an​ accident. The basic idea is​ simple - it​ involves being aware of, and​ taking various steps to​ avoid, all the potential hazards when you​ travel on​ the roads.

However in​ practice it​ involves much more than that. The first part relates to​ your​ ability as​ a​ driver. it​ involves training to​ improve your​ skills of​ vehicle control, observation, anticipation, temperament etc. this​ is​ the easy part as​ you​ have complete control over your​ side of​ the deal.

The second part recognises that although you​ may be able to​ control your​ actions at​ all times, there's virtually nothing you​ can do to​ control the actions of​ other drivers. So a​ wide range of​ defensive techniques have been developed to​ enable you​ to​ cope with anything that may happen. These skills involve being alert and​ ready to​ react to​ the hazards that other road user create. The ultimate aim is​ to​ become proactive so that you​ can avoid getting into dangerous situations, instead of​ just reacting to​ dangers once they develop.

Here are the basics of​ defensive driving.

1) Be Prepared

this​ is​ one of​ the most important skills of​ defensive driving. if​ you're constantly prepared for​ every situation​ that may develop while on​ the road, your​ chances of​ returning home safely will be much greater.

So before you​ begin​ any journey, make sure that your​ vehicle is​ properly prepared. Check the tyre pressure and​ the water, oil and​ gas levels. Make sure that all the lights and​ mirrors are working properly. and​ finally, don't leave home without carrying a​ medical kit, basic tools such as​ a​ jack, spare bulbs and​ all the relevant documentation.

2) Be Seen

One of​ the best ways to​ improve your​ safety on​ the road is​ to​ make sure that other motorists see your​ car. if​ they're aware of​ your​ vehicle and​ the space it​ occupies on​ the road, they're less likely to​ collide with you.

this​ might sound rather obvious, but take a​ look at​ this​ amazing statistic - Most motorists only see 10% of​ cars that are on​ the roads around them. That means they see only one car in​ ten. or​ more worryingly, they don't see nine cars out of​ ten.

So to​ make sure other drivers see you, make full use of​ your​ lights. of​ course it​ goes without saying that you​ should always use your​ headlights during lighting up times, but defensive driving goes beyond the bare legal minimum. for​ example, I've heard certain​ advanced drivers say that you​ should use your​ headlights at​ ALL times unless driving in​ full sunlight.

To see the benefit of​ this, next time you're driving when it's starting to​ get dark, pay close attention​ to​ the rest of​ the drivers on​ the road. I guarantee that you'll be more likely to​ notice the first few drivers who have switched their headlights on.

and​ while we're on​ the subject of​ being seen, when passing other cars, make sure that you​ spend as​ little time as​ possible in​ the blind spot of​ other drivers. if​ they're not aware of​ your​ presence, they're more likely to​ collide with your​ vehicle.

3) Create Space

The third principle of​ defensive driving is​ to​ create space between your​ vehicle and​ other motorists. this​ gives you​ extra leeway to​ avoid a​ collision​ with other road users if​ something unexpected happens.

for​ example, don't follow too closely behind other vehicles. if​ they have to​ stop suddenly and​ you're too close you're more likely to​ hit their vehicle. So back off, use the three second rule. Whatever speed you're doing, make sure that the vehicle in​ front of​ you​ is​ always three seconds ahead. as​ a​ rough guide, choose a​ roadside reference point and​ start counting when the vehicle in​ front passes it. if​ you​ pass the same point within​ three seconds, you're too close and​ need to​ back off. During bad weather conditions such as​ snow and​ ice, this​ gap should be extended to​ five seconds to​ account for​ the longer stopping distances.

and​ finally, when on​ the road, use your​ common​ sense. for​ example, avoid getting too close to​ any vehicle that looks poorly maintained or​ has signs of​ accident damage. These are subtle clues that the owner of​ the vehicle is​ not a​ defensive driver and​ as​ such is​ more of​ a​ danger to​ your​ safety.

4) Remain​ Calm

Another important aspect of​ defensive driving is​ to​ avoid road rage, both in​ yourself and​ other motorists. Try to​ remain​ calm at​ all times and​ don't react to​ the anger of​ other people that you​ encounter while on​ the roads. your​ ability to​ remain​ calm and​ rational is​ directly linked to​ your​ ability to​ put the principles of​ defensive driving into practice and​ stay safe. if​ you​ lose your​ temper when behind the wheel, your​ safety will be in​ jeopardy.

These are just a​ few of​ the most basic aspects of​ driving defensively. to​ find out more about how to​ stay safe on​ the roads and​ enjoy your​ driving, take a​ look at​ some of​ the defensive driving courses, many of​ which are available online. They will save you​ money and​ perhaps even your​ life.

Defensive Driving The Basics

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