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Defensive Driving Skills

It's never too late or too early to get up to scratch with your defensive driving skills.

Posted on: August 06, 2018

It's never too late or too early to get up to scratch with your defensive driving skills.

Whether you’re new to the roads or an old dog when it comes to road rules, it’s always important to be educated on defensive driving skills. By lowering your risk behind the wheel, you will be able to avoid crashes and keep yourself and others safe on the road. Although you can’t control the actions of other drivers, it is important to stay educated so you can ultimately avoid the dangers caused by other road users.

To help you on your way to being a better, safer driver, we have compiled a list of skills you should practice and teach to others. Remember that it is important to start from day one and if you are teaching learner drivers, they will pick up on your bad habits – it’s the easiest way to reform your dangerous driving ways.

Stay focused

It’s pretty easy to get distracted on the road, especially when you are in for a long-haul drive or are hurrying to work/the school drop-off. You’ve got the lights on your dashboard, traffic signs, road conditions, fellow motorists, and stop lights all competing for your attention, but you need to remember to keep your eyes on the road and focus on the most important thing – a safe drive.

You’ll also be challenged with distractions from the passengers in your car and all the spiffy technologies on your car’s dash. Making a habit of talking through Bluetooth or changing the radio station can slowly, but surely turn you into a sloppy driver. Veteran drivers tend to get too comfortable with their driving ability and start to become unfocused and lazy. Don’t become just another statistic and focus on what you are doing on the road.

Stay alert

Similar to staying focused, you also need to stay alert. There are many distractions on the road and in the car, but one of the most common mistakes a driver makes is a lack of alertness. It’s pretty simple – don’t drive when you’re tired, have been drinking, or are extremely fatigued. A University of Adelaide study found that 29% of people drive when drowsy at least every month. This is an alarming figure when you are having to trust the other people on the road to be alert behind the wheel.

By being well rested before hitting the road, you will be able to react quickly to potential hazards. In heavy traffic, people will have to quickly brake without much warning, so it is essential that you are alert of your surroundings. The same goes for road trips where stretches of road can be more than a little dull. Play games with passengers to stay alert, but still stay focused on the task at hand which is getting from A to B safely.

Know your hazard avoidance techniques

It’s not really surprising, but taking a hazard avoidance class will educate you on safe driving. You’ll first need to understand the risk at hand, then know the defence and how to act. Learner drivers will be privy to such techniques when taking professional driving lessons or a defensive driving class, but many of you out there who have had your licence for more than five years are probably “behind the times” when it comes to defensive driving.

You should be aware of visual and observation techniques, how to create and maintain a vehicle safety zone, and vehicle control skills. You never know what is going to happen when you get onto the road, so it’s imperative that you are prepared for the worst.

Eight secrets of super driving

According to the Nemours Foundation, there are eight keys to defensive driving to reduce risk when behind the wheel:

  • 1. Think safety first
  • 2. Be aware of your surroundings - pay attention
  • 3. Do not depend on other drivers
  • 4. Follow the 3- 4-second rule
  • 5. Keep your speed down
  • 6. Have an escape route
  • 7. Separate risks
  • 8. Cut out distractions

It’s important to remember that even though you may be driving with caution, your fellow drivers may not be. So, don’t depend on other drivers doing the right thing all the time, and follow the 3- to 4-second rule to avoid tailgating and causing a front or rear collision when held up in traffic/stopping suddenly.

Don’t forget, there are defensive driving courses out there no matter your experience on the road. It is always handy when you take initiative and educate yourself on the advancements in defensive driving. You can bet your bottom dollar that techniques have changed since you got your licence 15 or so years ago.

Safe travels.

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