Do you regularly practice safe driving? American roads are full of drivers who are speeding, distracted and careless; drivers who have been drinking or doing drugs; and drivers who are a combination of all these factors. No matter how good a driver you may be, your security on the road is never guaranteed. But by following a few simple defensive driving tips, you can increase your safety on the road.
Share this information with the members of your community to spread awareness about safe driving habits and defensive driving skills.
What Is Defensive Driving?
Driving defensively means learning how to not only control yourself, but also how to look out for everyone else. Here are some ways to reduce your risks on the road:
- Learn to recognize hazardous driving situations.
- Assume other drivers will make errors.
- Scan frequently to the side and rear for passing or approaching vehicles.
- Look far enough ahead to be able to react safely to approaching situations.
- Scan ahead of what is immediately in front of you. If you cannot see ahead of the vehicle you are following, increase your following distance.
- Don’t force other drivers to brake or steer because of your actions (e.g., changing lanes, pulling into an intersection after a stop).
- Signal your intentions to pass. Before you pass, check to be sure no one is passing you.
- If the vehicle you are trying to pass speeds up, let it go. Don’t get into a dangerous race.
- Always maintain a safe following distance. Make sure that if the driver in front of you slams on the brakes, you can avoid a collision, stay in your lane and not be hit by the vehicle following you all at the same time.
- If you see trouble ahead, flash your brake lights to alert drivers following you.
QuickFact: Drinking and driving is a major contributor of vehicle fatalities. Impaired driving is a public health concern because it puts not only the driver at risk, but also the passengers and others who share the road.
The 3-Second Rule for Safe Driving
All kinds of unpredictable things happen in traffic. If the driver in front of you swerves or slams on the brakes and you run into their car, it will likely be considered your fault. Following the 3-Second Rule is a useful safe driving tool for ensuring that you’re a fair distance away from the car ahead of you. But always consider your driving conditions: double this time to six seconds in bad weather, heavy traffic or while driving at night.
QuickStat: According to the NHTSA, 3,450 people were killed from distracted driving in the U.S. in 2016.
It’s Up to You to Practice Safe Driving
Over the years, various safety programs, such as those that have increased seat belt use and reduced impaired driving, have continued to lower traffic fatality numbers. Technological improvements to vehicles, like air bags and electronic stability control have also contributed greatly to reduce death on the road. But don’t forget — the next time you slip behind the wheel, driving defensively really is your best defense.