How to Avoid Car Insurance Claims Through Defensive Driving

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Driving on roadDefensive driving is important in reducing car insurance claims and staying safe. Ask most people how to drive defensively and you may find that many aren't sure. We've put together a list of tips to help you avoid an accident both before you start driving and when you're on the road.

Follow at a Safe Distance

Tailgating isn't just illegal - it's dangerous. While you may feel that you're completely in control of your car, if you're practically riding the car's bumper in front of you, you are putting both the people in the vehicle and yourself at risk. In the event of an emergency, the most important thing a driver can do in order to avoid an accident is to ensure that there is enough room for him or her to stop. Otherwise, you may find yourself filing an expensive car insurance claim.

Drive and Stay Alive, Inc. recommends that drivers follow the two, four and 10 second rules. This means that on a dry road, during the daytime, you should be at least two seconds behind the car in front of you. If the road is wet, this distance should rise to four seconds, and on icy roads it should rise to ten. To calculate how many seconds you are behind the vehicle in front of you, choose a stationary point along the road. Start counting seconds after the car directly in front of you passes this point and stop when you do. If you got to fewer than the requisite number of seconds, slow down and let the other car pull ahead.

Expect Other Drivers to Ignore the Rules

This advice may seem a little counter-intuitive, but if you want to stay safe on the road, you should drive as though other cars may completely ignore the rules at any moment, because they very well may. According to research conducted by Dr. Gerald Wilde, detailed in an International Co-operation on Theories and Concepts in Traffic Safety report, traffic signs tend to give drivers a false sense of security, under a concept known as "risk homeostasis." In layman's terms, this means that drivers who believe they have the right of way, will, for example, sometimes blindly drive into an intersection without first looking at other cars on the road. This leads to a number of avoidable accidents and car insurance claims.

In order to avoid this risk, don't just look at stoplights and traffic signs. Instead, use them as they were intended - as guidelines - and make sure that you pay attention to other vehicles on the road as well. Just because you have a green light, it doesn't mean that there won't be another car rushing through the intersection.

Maintain Speed through a Tire Blowout

Tire blowouts are loud and dangerous - two factors that commonly cause drivers to panic and hit the brakes. Unfortunately, this is the worst thing you can do, according to Cracked.com. The problem is that your blown-out tire acts like an anchor on your car, an effect that is amplified by braking - especially in the event of a back tire blowout. If you are traveling at speed when your tire blows out and you hit the brakes, your car can easily spin out of control or even flip over.

Instead, you should gently pump the gas pedal enough to maintain speed. In most cases, this will keep your car under control and allow you to gradually stop your vehicle somewhere safer than the middle of the road. It also may help for you to turn into the side of the car that has the blown out tire. With a little luck, you will be able to keep a comparably small car insurance claim from turning into a larger one.

Point Your Mirrors Out

This is another point of counter-intuitive advice - point your side mirrors far enough out that you can no longer see the rear of your vehicle. According to Car and Driver, despite the "common knowledge" that you must always check your blind spot by turning your head, this new orientation actually removes your blind spot entirely. While some drivers who are accustomed to the old way of orienting the side mirrors may find themselves disoriented at first without the rear of the car to help them judge distances, it is almost certainly safer to be able to see cars approaching in your mirrors, rather than having to turn your head entirely around.

While there is certainly a lot more to driving safely than can be properly expressed in four tips, by observing these recommendations you can significantly reduce your chance of getting in an accident and making a costly car insurance claim. Keep your family safe by always observing the rules of the road.