Defensive Driving Saves Lives
While less than 2% of automobile crashes are caused by natural hazards like falling trees or animals darting onto the road, the rest are due to driver error. That means a full 98% of all crashes are preventable.
What is Defensive Driving?
Defensive driving is being aware and ready for whatever happens. You’re cautious, yet ready to take action and not put your fate in the hands of other drivers. Effectively managing visibility, time and space while driving can help you avoid crashes and increases in your car insurance premium.
Eight Tips to Prevent Crashes
1. Pay attention. Many people think driving is something they can do automatically, and let their minds wander. Driving is the most dangerous thing most of us ever do and it deserves our full attention. Consciously analyze what you see while you drive. This gives you the time you need to recognize hazards and avoid a collision.
Avoid distracting yourself with your phone, food, radio or passengers. Taking your eyes off the road or breaking your concentration can cause you to crash. See more AAA tips to help you manage distractions and stay safe behind the wheel.
2. Allow enough space ahead. Thirty percent of crashes involve rear-end collisions. It’s best to allow at least three to four seconds between you and the car ahead of you. At highway speeds, lengthen the gap to four to five seconds or more. If driving in the rain or poor weather conditions, lengthen that gap to six or more seconds. Do your best to maintain safe space as cars around you change position.
See the AAA Defensive Driving brochure (PDF) for more explanation about how to maintain a safe distance from the traffic ahead.
3. Look ahead. Scan the road and surrounding area ahead for potential road hazards, conditions and information that can help you plan a clear route. The AAA Defensive Driving brochure (PDF) explains in detail a tried-and-true technique for scanning potential hazards ahead.
4. Have an escape route. The best way to avoid potential dangers is to position your vehicle where you have the best chance of seeing and being seen. Check your mirrors every few seconds to see what is beside and/or behind you, so you could maneuver safely to avoid a crash.
And remember to keep your speed down. Posted speed limits apply to ideal conditions. You’re responsible for decreasing your speed to match the conditions.
5. Separate risks. If faced with multiple risks, it’s necessary to address them by separating the risks. In these situations, your task is to avoid having to cope with too many risk factors at the same time.
6. Communicate with other drivers: use turn signals. Though it may seem obvious, neglecting this important task can have catastrophic consequences. Using your turn signals gives other drivers -- and motorcyclists -- the advance notice necessary to adjust their own positions and avoid collision.
7. Don’t depend on other drivers. Be considerate of others, but look out for yourself. While we trust other drivers to behave in an appropriate manner, we can’t depend on them to drive as expected.
8. Keep a positive attitude. There are real people in other vehicles – and aggressive, irresponsible driving puts lives in danger. If you encounter aggressive drivers, don’t engage in behavior that will escalate the situation.
Want to Learn More about Defensive Driving?
Download the AAA Defensive Driving brochure (PDF) and learn these defensive driving techniques in detail.