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How to avoid car accidents using defensive driving techniques

Car accidents can result in severe injuries, loss of precious lives, destruction of property, and huge numbers of court cases and insurance claims. Thankfully, a large number of these car accidents can be avoided by adopting safe driving techniques. What are these defensive driving techniques and how you can feel more safe and confident while driving a car on the roads? Let’s find out in this article. 

What is meant by defensive driving?

Defensive driving is a collection of driving techniques that are designed to prevent accidents caused by the mistakes of other drivers, and the influence of weather and the road surface. They are techniques that enhance our regular day-to-day driving by reducing the risk of being involved in a collision. Why pay for the mistakes of other drivers when you can keep yourself safe by adopting defensive driving? The main aim of defensive driving is to keep you aware of potential dangers and to reduce them through these techniques. It reminds you not to trust other drivers on the road and always maintain a safe distance from them. This distance gives you sufficient time to react and take the required action to avoid an accident.  

Importance of defensive driving techniques

Illusory superiority is a phenomenon whereby most people think they are above-average drivers. Drivers are unable to recognise their own bad habits, even if they can point them out in other people, and even those guilty of rash driving or drunk driving often have no clue of the impact of their driving on other drivers on the road.

Even if you are a conscientious, careful driver having full knowledge of all the traffic rules, you can still find yourself involved in a vehicle accident. It happens because you cannot control how other drivers use the road, you can only try to anticipate what they will do or react when they do something. Defensive driving techniques are all about how you operate your car to reduce risks posed by other drivers and bad weather conditions. In the worst case scenario, you may need to have a car wreck attorney to fight your case in court in the eventuality of a mishap. A car accident lawyer is a professional who can help you in getting a decent amount of money in compensation for the treatment of your injuries and the loss of income on account of absence from the workplace. 

Tips to stay safe while driving

Remain attentive

We develop an ‘autopilot’ that enables us to be relatively proficient drivers while paying minimal attention. This is a natural human trait that is applied to everything from cleaning your teeth to knitting. These automatic processes mean that drivers often look for distractions to avoid boredom. Multiple processes can be conducted simultaneously when they are habitual. For example, you can maintain control of the vehicle while listening to music and talking to a passenger. However, this is not the case when a sudden emergency presents itself.

During these times, accident risk is increased and more cognitive power is required from the driver to deal with the emerging situation. In fact, if a passenger stops talking to the driver, this is more likely to reduce the accident risk.

In these cases, a front-seat adult can also recognise the developing hazard and stop taking your attention (or direct you to the danger), but this doesn’t necessarily apply if you have kids fighting in the back seat, or you’ve had an argument with your partner in the morning and you’re replaying it over and over in your head.

Remaining attentive also includes consciously avoiding external distractions such as interesting objects on the side of the road. 

Expect other drivers to make mistakes

Not every other driver is as good a driver as you are. There are also bad drivers, rash drivers, and drunk drivers ready to create a problem for you and your car. Many accidents take place because a driver is not anticipating another driver will make a mistake. Maintaining an appropriate distance and speed helps with this. 

Use an appropriate speed

Know the difference between appropriate and inappropriate speed. Driving slowly is not the answer unless the road conditions call for it. While it gives you more time to react, it can lead to boredom for the driver and it will frustrate other drivers around you. Speed is a factor in a large number of vehicle accidents, but it is not the only factor.

Be prepared to give way

You are not there on the road to boost your ego, right? You will always encounter drivers ready to prove they are faster than you. You will not gain a thing by racing against these drivers. Instead of feeling the urge to teach them a lesson, just remain cool and let these drivers pass you. 

Use your indicators

If you don’t use your indicators before making a turn or changing lanes, you’re not signalling to other drivers what you’re about to do, therefore they could be surprised at your actions. For example, you want to turn right into a driveway, but the driver behind doesn’t see you indicating. He goes to overtake as you turn right and then you caused an accident. Always use indicators properly even if there is no one on the road to see these lights because it maintains your habit of using them.  

Drive to the weather conditions

Driving in bad weather is a huge topic. Mostly, it’s about understanding whether you really need to make the trip, then choosing an appropriate speed for the conditions.

Don’t drive when drunk or under the influence of drugs

Numerous accidents are caused by drunk driving and drugged driving (including legal medicines).

Maintain a safe distance

Try to maintain a bigger distance between your car and other cars to make sure there is no mishap. Give yourself and other drivers sufficient reaction time by keeping a safe distance. 

Your safety is in your own hands. This is the golden mantra of safe driving as you cannot trust other drivers on the road. Use appropriate speeds, follow all traffic rules, and avoid drunk driving to minimise your risk of being involved in a crash. Remember, defensive driving techniques are there to ensure your safety when driving. 

Darren is an expert on driving and transport, and is a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists

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