No one wants to be in a car accident. They’re a huge hassle, stressful, and it can take weeks to recover from your injuries.
You can lower your odds of that happening by practicing proven defensive driving techniques that we highlight below. If you happen to get in a wreck, it’s wise to review the case with an experienced car accident lawyer to see if you can obtain compensation for your injuries.
Plan Your Drive Ahead Of Time
Have a plan before you get behind the wheel. This means review weather conditions and know if you need extra time to arrive safely at your destination. That way, you won’t rush in bad weather and get in a fender-bender or worse.
Also, take extra care when negotiating tight turns and curves, such as when you get off the highway. Be ready to handle those changes of directions slowly when the weather turns south. If possible, drive in a lane with a shoulder next to you so you can bail out in an emergency.
Did you ever hear someone say after an accident, “I don’t know where that car came from!” While it’s impossible to see everything all the time when you’re driving, you still should be checking your mirrors regularly and scan intersections before you drive through them.
Get used to taking a glance down intersecting roads as you drive so you can avoid being hit from the side by a driver blowing through a red light. The idea is to always think about where other cars will be in a few seconds, so you’re ready to act in an emergency.
Brake Sooner Than Later
Braking late is smart in auto racing, but not on public roads. It’s always intelligent to brake earlier than later, especially if the highway is slick. You should be ready for it to take two or three times longer to stop when roads are wet or icy. So give yourself more space from the vehicles in front of you.
Braking early also means you’re less likely to be rear-ended because those behind you will see your brake lights sooner.
Don’t Be Aggressive
Everyone knows that aggressive drivers are annoying. But don’t let their aggressiveness affect how you drive. Road rage often happens with one driver’s angry, aggressive behavior rubbing off on others.
Many accidents happen because a driver cuts someone off, and that driver decides to ‘get even’ by doing something equally foolish. You’ll always come out ahead – and safe – if you stay calm behind the wheel.
No Distracted Driving
Being a safe, defensive driver isn’t just about reacting. You also need to be proactive. One of the simplest ways to avoid car accidents is to devote 100% of your attention to driving when you’re behind the wheel.
Don’t do anything that takes your eyes off the road. Using a cell phone while driving is a huge problem these days. You should never text, surf the Internet, search for music or use social media on a phone while driving.
Remember that if you’re in an accident and you were texting, the police can access your phone records and hold you liable.
Being a good defensive driver means you need to not only protect yourself from others on the road. It also means thinking one or two steps ahead and being ready for hazards so you can avoid crashes before they occur.
A good rule of thumb is to assume that other drivers aren’t paying attention, so you’re always ready to take action if something unexpected happens on the road.
I’m a single mother of 2 living in Utah writing about startups, business, marketing, entrepreneurship, and health. I also write for Inc, Score, Manta, and Newsblaze