5 Tips for Defensive Driving

Defensive driving is something that we learn about when we get our driver’s permit. From our teenage years onward, we hear about defensive driving, but all too often, individuals tend to forget about the principles. Here, we want to review five of the most important tips when it comes to defensive driving and staying safe on the roadway.

1. Make a Plan

The best driving plans start before you even get in the car and pull out of the driveway. We encourage every driver to plan ahead, even for shorter trips. This includes checking the weather conditions to know what your commute will be like, making sure you know which route you’re going to take, and leaving early enough to give yourself time to get to the destination without being rushed. When you have a driving plan in place, you will be much safer on the roadway.

2. Always Scan Surroundings

When you get behind the wheel of your vehicle, you need to make sure that you scan your surroundings regularly. This includes more than just looking in your mirrors. You need to move your head around to make sure that you avoid tunnel vision (which keeps your attention focused only right in front of you). By scanning around you regularly, you will have an understanding of where people are at all times, which is particularly important if you have to take evasive maneuvers to avoid a hazardous situation in front of you.

3. Reduce Speed and Brake Early

Speeding is a leading cause of traffic injuries and fatalities in California each year, according to the Office of Traffic Safety. Drivers should never operate above the speed limit, and they may need to drive below the speed limit depending on traffic and weather conditions.

The best way to ensure that you are able to stop on time is to leave enough space between you and the vehicle in front of you. It is always a good idea to slow down a little sooner than usual, especially in hazardous weather conditions. If you start to slow down a little bit earlier at stop signs, stop lights, and when you have to yield to others, this gives you more time to think about any hazards that could arise caused by other vehicles.

4. Do Not Get Heated

Road rage is never good. In fact, it is the opposite of defensive driving. You cannot let other drivers’ actions or aggressions get you angry. Once you get mad behind the wheel, defensive driving goes out the window. Drivers experiencing anger or road rage are more likely to speed, follow others too closely, or make careless decisions that could impact their safety and the safety of others.

5. Don’t Get Distracted

You need to minimize distractions behind the wheel. Now that all of us have little computers in our pockets in the form of cell phones, it is very easy to want to continually check for messages, browse social media, take photos or videos, check emails, or look for the best songs to play. Additionally, aside from mobile devices, other distractions can include eating or drinking behind the wheel, applying makeup, talking to others in the vehicle, playing with pets in the vehicle, and more.