Defensive Driving 101
Aggressive drivers, distracted drivers, impaired drivers, inclement weather and wildlife can all become unwelcome hazards with you out on the road. While you may not be able to fully control the conditions or drivers around you, one thing you can keep in check is how you handle them. We often hear the term defensive driving and are told how critical it is on the road but what exactly does defensive driving mean mean? From the National Safety Council’s Defensive Driving course: defensive driving is defined as… “driving to save lives, time, and money, in spite of the conditions around you and the actions of others.” Keeping that in mind, defensive driving can be broken down into these 10 steps.
Looking ahead means more than than looking at the car in front of you. It means looking as far ahead as you can depending on the type of driving you’re doing. While scanning a 1/2 mile to 1 mile ahead may go against our nature as people, looking that far down the road will keep you steering straighter and better able to manage any hazards lurking in the road ahead.
Driving is not a passive activity and takes the full attention the person behind the wheel visually, mentally and physically. But a recent study found that 58% of auto accidents are caused by distracted driving. Defensive driving means distancing yourself from the distractions that fall into these categories:
Visual – taking your eyes off the road to check a text, change the radio, pick up an item or even look at another passenger.
Manual – taking your hands of the wheel to text, use a cell phone, eat, hold a pet or other activities.
Cognitive – taking your mind off the road or getting lost in thought.
Did you know that in a recent study, Michigan tied for 3rd Most Dangerous Drivers due to tailgating? Unfortunately, it’s true. Tailgating is not only one of the most common forms of aggressive driving, it’s a leading cause of accidents. Give yourself a defensive advantage by creating space between your car and the ones around you, including in front of you and beside you. A general rule of thumb is 3 seconds between your vehicle and the one in front of you on dry, clear roads and going 35mph. Increase the seconds as your speed increases or as road conditions decline. In addition to creating space, avoid traveling in other motorist’s blind spots.
Your Driver’s Ed Instructor probably told you to keep your eyes on the road but that shouldn’t be the only place to be looking when you’re behind the wheel. Having the full picture of what’s happening around your vehicle is vital for determining possible hazards and to plan ahead. Be aware of your surroundings by scanning your eyes often between your windshield and properly adjusted side and rear view mirrors.
Assuming that the car next to you won’t change lanes or that a that a car will yield the right of way simply because they have a stop sign puts you at risk. Planning for the unexpected means you won’t find yourself reacting in a panic and instead can focus on our next tip…
It might sound dramatic but a good defensive driver not only scans but plans ahead for hypothetical situations. Along with not assuming other drivers will drive carefully, it’s important to plan how you’ll react should the unexpected happens. Consider what you’ll do if the car beside you crosses in to your lane. Do you have room on your other side to move over or space behind you to brake without the car behind you hitting you? Playing out these scenarios before they happen means you can decide which solution is the best.
Driving drowsy, distracted or impaired is not only unwise, it’s dangerous. Alertness is a critical factor to responding to situations correctly and in a timely manner. Anything that makes you less alert, diminishes that ability and increases your risk out on the road. Try to avoid driving while tired or at times you normally sleep when possible and be sure to take frequent breaks when driving long distances.
Control Your Speed
Driving above the posted speed limit or an unsafe speed for road conditions is unquestionably recognized as a major contributing in both the number and the severity of accidents. In addition, speeding reduces your reaction time and ease of manueverability while increasing your braking distance.
It can be difficult to keep your cool when faced with an aggressive driver who cuts you off or is tailgating you, but that’s exactly what you need to do in order to drive defensively. If possible, allow them to drive ahead of you and distance yourself from their vehicle as much as you can. Staying calm while tempers flair can not only save you from an unwanted accident but a road rage incident as well.
Make It A Habit
Becoming a safer, more defensive driver doesn’t happen overnight but it can become a habit. Mentally challenge yourself to check off each tip as you are driving.
Driving defensively dramatically reduces your risk for an accident. If you do find yourself needing to replace your car, truck or van or SUV, we invite you to check out our current inventory of Used Trucks, Vans, SUVs and Cars. At Broadmoor Motors Hastings, we specialize in finding the right used minivan, truck, SUV or car to fit your personal or business needs, all while giving you the best deal we can on both your purchase and trade in. Our family has been in the car business for over 60 years and continues to be family owned and operated in both our Hastings and Caledonia locations with financing available to those who qualify, and we will find you the right vehicle to fit both your budget and your needs.
Let Broadmoor Motors Hastings save you time and money when buying your next quality, Pre-Owned Car or Work Truck and on your next Car Rental. Whether you need a short term car rental, long term car rental, a replacement while your vehicle is getting serviced or simply need to replace your car, minivan, truck or SUV with a great used vehicle, we can help you out. Broadmoor Motors Hastings is here for all your Car Rental, Car Sales, and Auto Service needs in the greater Barry County area, Hastings, Middleville and Caledonia. Give us a call at 269.320.6304 in Hastings or 616.698.9595 in Caledonia to see how we can get you back on the road!