Students learn about the importance of defensive driving when first learning how to drive. However, those lessons can fade quickly once the driver’s license is in hand. While many are able to remain focused behind the wheel, others forget proper following distance, staying out of other vehicles’ blind spots, and more. Just one mistake can lead to a devastating car accident. This is why practicing defensive driving is critical.
Defensive driving can be defined as using safe driving strategies that allow motorists to face identifiable hazards in predictable ways. The strategies go beyond the understanding of basic traffic laws and how to operate a motor vehicle.
Defensive driving courses can be held on-site or online, and they teach students crucial skills and habits that can protect them and road users. These students are taught to improve their skills through reducing driving risks, anticipating hazardous situations, and making well-informed, safer decisions. Much of this is based on road conditions and how to complete safe driving maneuvers.
Depending on where you live, a defensive driving class can provide many benefits, such as a decrease in auto insurance rates, or a reduction in points on a driver’s license after a citation. You may also avoid having your insurance rates increase after an accident. The length of the courses vary, but they average from four to eight hours, and the course materials are based on state requirements.
What Is Covered in Defensive Driving Courses?
You might be surprised about some of the topics covered in defensive driving courses. One is the way that psychological factors contribute to crashes. People who drive when they are angry, tired, emotionally distressed, or stressed can pose serious safety threats, so it is crucial to have a positive attitude when driving. You might even learn about ways to better your mood when taking a defensive driving course.
It is not surprising to discover that driver errors are also covered in these classes, including driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. You can find out more about acceptable blood alcohol content (BAC) levels in the state and the penalties and fines incurred for drunk driving.
State-specific driving regulations will be discussed in further detail. This information can serve as a good deterrent when you might feel the need to speed or ignore a traffic sign.
Anticipating and reacting to the actions of other drivers is another topic. Students learn how to anticipate what others might do, based on certain behavioral and physical cues. Sometimes, drivers do completely unexpected things that cannot be predicted. Yet, with or without any clues, drivers who maintain consistent focus on the road will be better prepared for the unexpected. They are taught how to react to split-second dangerous situations and lessen the risk of an accident.
What Are the Basics of Defensive Driving?
Not everyone will sign up for one of these courses. If you do not have the time to take defensive driving classes, you can still brush up on some skills. Some defensive driving basics are listed below.
It is not easy to avoid distractions when driving, but this is a leading cause of auto accidents. Stow away your cellphone and any other hand-held electronic device.
Eating, drinking, smoking, and grooming are also things that can draw your attention away from the road. If you must do any of these things, pull over somewhere safe, and do them quickly so you can return to driving.
Fatigue can have the same effects as drunkenness. If you start feeling sleepy, it is time to pull over and take a rest.
The risks of driving under the influence are well-known. This behavior can cause serious accidents, injuries, and death. Driving under the influence can also lead to fines, penalties, and jail time for offenders.
A consistent focus allows drivers to discern potential road hazards, like an icy highway, a swerving car, or a tractor trailer that is struggling to remain stable in poor weather conditions. Keep as far away as possible, pull over when it is safe, and report the danger to the authorities if needed.
Do not just be aware of your immediate surroundings, either. Watch the road ahead to see what is coming from a distance. You should also frequently look in back of you; use your rearview mirror.
Maintain a Safe Following Distance
New drivers learn about the three-second rule. Based on the current driving speed, there must be three seconds, at least, of driving time in between your car and the one in front. That count should never decrease, but it can increase based on the situation.
If there is heavy traffic, poor weather conditions, or someone is tailgating you, up can increase the following distance. It is also best to increase it when following a motorcycle, bus, or a large truck. There should also be adequate space for vehicles next to you and behind you. Always drive in the middle of your lane, and carefully switch lanes if someone in back is driving too close to your bumper.
Avoid Road Rage
Do not engage with aggressive drivers, even if you feel agitated. These situations can quickly escalate, so do your best to remain calm and avoid eye contact. Let the aggressive driver pass you.
Even if you are right and they are wrong, drivers who succumb to road rage can seriously injure or kill others. They should be reported, so do so when it is safe.
Avoid Drunk, Tired, and Reckless Drivers
If you notice another vehicle drifting in between lanes, going too slow or fast, swerving, or exhibiting other unsafe driving behaviors, get as far away as possible. You should report them when it is safe to do so.
Stay Out of Blind Spots
Getting too close to another vehicle increases the chances of being in their blind spot, and they may attempt a move that could go right into your car.
Blind spot monitors help with this problem, but they are not 100 percent effective. Be extra careful around large trucks, as they have larger blind spots, and accidents with these heavy vehicles can cause more damage.
Carefully Change Lanes
Weaving in and out of lanes to save time can be risky, especially at high speeds. Do not change lanes unless it is necessary, and use your turn signals before initiating a move. Never pass on a double line, and do not exceed the posted speed limit.
The passing lane is not the primary lane, so staying there longer than needed is unsafe as well.
Expect the Worst
While the majority of drivers out there are concerned about road safety, expect to encounter some reckless drivers. Do not assume that everyone else will drive carefully and safely. Focus on controlling your own driving behaviors, and safely deal with others’ bad ones.
Always Be Prepared
It pays to stay focused on the road at all times; you want to remain calm yet vigilant. Keep both hands on the wheel, sit up nice and straight, and be aware of your surroundings.
Plan out your route in advance. Even the shortest trip can be impacted by events like traffic jams and road closures.
Additionally, make sure your vehicle is in good working order.
Delaware Car Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Can Help if You Have Been Injured by a Reckless Driver
You should always practice defensive driving, however, you cannot guarantee other motorists will be safe on the road. If you have been injured in an accident, speak with one of our Delaware car accident lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC. For a free consultation, call us at 302-888-1221 or submit our online form. We are located in Wilmington, Delaware, and we serve clients in Dover, Newark, and Middletown.