Defensive Driving Tactics
Thursday, September 18, 2014
Poor driving primarily stems from two factors: driving aggressively/recklessly and driving while distracted/intoxicated. Distraction and intoxication have simple solutions, even though drivers tend not to implement them in practice. But what exactly do aggressive and reckless driving mean? And what can drivers do to drive non-aggressively and non-recklessly?
Tips for Defensive Driving
- The point of defensive driving is to lower the risk of an accident by anticipating hazards. These hazards include the driving mistakes of others, as well as the risks of driving in treacherous weather or road conditions.
- One aspect of defensive driving is purely psychological. The challenge is to stay calm and focussed, even while struggling through dense traffic and while being tired and stressed. Frustration and fatigue should be combated, since they can cause emotional rather than rational driving. One strategy is to listen to relaxing or upbeat music, to sing along, to leave yourself with enough time to get to your destination, and to cut further potential irritations by, for example, ensuring the kids are belted in and entertained.
- There are several ways in which drivers can anticipate the mistakes of their fellow road users. One of the most important rules is the two-second follow rule, which prescribes that you should pick a stationery roadside object and ensure that you pass it no less than two seconds after the driver ahead of you. If you are in a heavy vehicle, make it three seconds. This guarantees that you will have enough time to stop, should the driver in front of you turn or brake suddenly.
- Many people think of defensive drivers as those annoying road users that hold up traffic by driving too slowly. But the reality is that defensive drivers drive at the speed limit, and below it only in weather where the roadway is wet or visibility is poor. This is to make sure that they can stop in time if something unexpected happens.
- High eyes driving is another piece of advice that drivers are given during defensive driving training. The point is to concentrate on the road horizon, and not the car that drives ahead of you. If drivers fixate on the car ahead, they tend to mimic its actions instead of driving wisely. Instead, focussing on the horizon allows drivers to see all the traffic ahead, which allows them to anticipate and compensate for sudden events.
- Defensive drivers use their side and rear-view mirrors to successfully spot when other drivers change lanes, or to plan necessary lane changes carefully.
- Defensive driving also involves steering clear of bad or aggressive drivers, watching drivers carefully to anticipate their lane changes, looking carefully at a crossing for the car that might skip its red light and crash into yours, pedestrians that run out into the road, and so forth.
- Defensive drivers also know when to drive and when to wait out until driving conditions improve. They do not drive when they are too tired to focus, or when weather conditions are exceptionally poor.