What is defensive driving? It is a set of driving skills that allows you to defend yourself against possible collisions caused by bad drivers, drunk drivers, and poor weather. If you look ahead and keep your eyes moving, you will spot potential hazards more easily. Once you have identified a potential hazard and decided what to do, act immediately.

Defensive drivers are able to avoid dangers on the road by using their safe driving practices.

Tips for defensive driving:

Stay focused, keeping your hands on the wheel. Defensive drivers concentrate on the road, keeping their hands at the 10 o’clock-2 o’clock position. They don’t do other tasks while driving, some of which are illegal. These include:
Applying makeup
Holding a dog

Tending to a child
Operating a hand-held cell phone

Keep your eyes moving. Continuously look in your mirrors and scan the road ahead, checking for hazards and slowing traffic so you can anticipate problems before they develop.

Stay alert. Don’t drive if you’re tired or upset.

Go with the flow. Most drivers know that speeding is a major cause of accidents, but driving too slow can be dangerous, too. Drive at speeds that most other vehicles are going.

Use the 2 second rule on heavily traveled roads to maintain adequate spacing with the car in front of you.Choose a fixed object on the road ahead of you.Count “1 independence, 2 independence” when the car in front of you goes by the object. If you pass the same object before you’re done counting, slow down a bit. The 2 second rule helps reduce the chance of a rear-end collision when cars in front make sudden stops.

Make yourself visible. Many accidents occur because drivers didn’t see the other car. There are a few simple ways to make your presence known, making the road safer for everyone. They include:

Turn signals: Use your turn signals to let other drivers know where you’re going. By using your blinkers, other drivers will be able to anticipate your actions and slow down safely.

Headlights: Turn on your headlights at dusk or anytime it is raining. This is more for other drivers to see you than for you to see the road. In some states it is illegal to drive without your headlights on while the windshield wipers are in operation.

Brake lights: Operational brake lights are a safety must. They warn cars behind you that you’re slowing down, signaling them to reduce speed, too.

Avoid blind spots: Don’t linger in areas where the driver in front of you can’t see you. Many people will only check their mirrors before making a lane change. If you’re lurking slightly behind and a lane away from another vehicle, assume that the driver of that car can’t see you. Either safely speed up or slow down to avoid this scenario, which often results in an accident. This is an important defensive-driving technique.

Resist road rage. Aggressive drivers may infuriate you, but retaliating with similar tactics is dangerous. Take a passive approach in dealing with road rage. Use these strategies in specific road-rage scenarios:

Tailgaters: If the driver behind you is right on your bumper, tap the brakes a few times to let the driver know that he’s not maintaining a safe distance. If he stays on your tail, slow down gradually. Chances are the tailgater will eventually pass you.

Speeders: If you see a car speeding or aggressively changing lanes behind you, stay in your lane while maintaining your speed.

Adapt to road conditions. Even light rain can produce dangerous conditions, particularly early in the season when the water picks up oil from the road surface, making it slippery. Tires lose their grip at higher speeds, so slowing down in inclement weather is a fundamental defensive-driving technique.

Familiarize yourself with traffic rules.Refresh your memory by browsing a Department of Motor Vehicles pamphlet detailing the rules of the road. It provides guidelines on rights of way, road signs, traffic law, and contains tips on safe driving.

Avoid Rear-Enders in Intersections:

Move only when it is clear. Sometimes an intersection gets backed up with traffic.

If you’re the first car to go at green, make sure traffic on the other side of the intersection that you are moving into has cleared before you decide to go. This can prevent you from getting in a situation where you might get T-boned if you get stuck or stalled in an intersection.

Turning into an intersection: a lot of rear-end collisions happen when the driver behind you assumes you are going to complete the turn, even if traffic is backed up.

Give yourself enough room: if you must stop in an intersection, slow down carefully and keep distance from any other cars that have yet to complete the intersection. If the person behind you ‘flip-flops’ and rear-ends your car, you’ll save yourself the trouble the car in front of you is not involved.

Plan ahead for the unexpected.

Be able to control speed

Be Prepared to react to other drivers

Do not expect the other driver to do what you think he or she should do

Respect other users of the roadway.

Don’t make assumptions about another drivers intentions.

You risk being caught off guard when drivers do not do what’s expected.

Expect other drivers to make mistakes and be prepared to react. If a mistake is made, you will be ready to defend yourself.

Never assume that other drivers are sober, alert, and follow the rules of the road at all times.

Traffic Crashes

Losses from traffic crashes have both social and personal impacts. Approximately 41,000 die annually as a result of traffic collisions, with an additional 3,236,000 injuries. About 38% of all fatal car crashes are alcohol related with another 30% attributed to speeding.

The causes of these crashes, emotional impact and cost in rupees spent on car crashes are huge  The goal of good defensive driving is to reduce the risk of these accidents to exercise caution and good judgement while driving.

Psychological Factors

On the roadways, drivers have to deal with several factors that can affect their driving. Though some of them are beyond the control of the driver, psychological factors can be controlled by the driver if he knows what to look for and how to handle it.

Defensive driving  tend to focus on how drivers can overcome negative psychological factors such as unneeded stress, fatigue, emotional distress and road rage. One should  develop  positive attitude behind the wheel and increasing your focus on the driving task.

Human Factors

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol continues to impact thousands of Indian drivers each year. While the specific effect of each drug on your body takes place in differing stages, the effect of drivers operating a vehicle while under the influence is disastrous.

Your judgement, inhibitions, motor skills and senses are affected by drugs and alcohol and the consequences of being found guilty of driving under the influence are immense

The Dynamics of a Crash

Vehicle crashes are almost always a preventable result of a series of events. The combination of speed, place of impact and size of object being impacted can determine the severity of the crash. In every accident, however, the act of one vehicle hitting another vehicle or other object is not the only collision that can occur.

The concept of the second collision, in which the driver and other passengers collides with the windshield, seat or other object within the car when not wearing a seat belt can be just as dangerous as the initial collision.

Safety Equipment

Approximately half of all deaths that are result of an automobile crash could have been avoided if the victim were wearing a safety belt properly. Of course safety belts are only the most commonly thought of vehicle safety equipment. Items such as air bags, child safety seats and head rests all serve to protect drivers and passengers and reduce the risk of injury or death in the event of a crash.

Crash Prevention Techniques

The key to any good defensive driving strategy is knowing how to avoid traffic crashes and recognize potential hazards before it’s too late.

Scan the roadway and adapt to surroundings

Employ the two-second rule for following distances

Know your vehicle’s stopping distance

Be aware of reaction distance

Environment hazards

Vehicle emergencies

Share the road

Passing and necessary clear distance

Right of way

Speed adjustments

What is the best way to drive defensively, day and night?

Make yourself visible, always use turn signals when appropriate, use headlights when needed, watch others on the road, pay attention to traffics signs and lights, and observe speed limits. Use good timing when weaving into traffic, and try not to cut people off if possible, but be prepared for others to do so.

How do I drive defensively while turning or in round-a-bouts?

Speed is key. You need time to judge the movement of traffic both on and about to enter a roundabout. Vehicle positioning is crucial from you and others as this is the strongest signal of your (and others) intentions. Turn indicators are meant to let others know your intentions not confuse. Don’t accept every signal, look at their positioning and speed.

What are habits for defensive driving?

The answer to this could take pages but assuming you mean observations, then `PLANNING` is the key word. Constantly scan ahead for potential events such vehicles slowing to negotiate junctions or for lane changers. Try to prepare and predict what they may do next. A good driver will be checking traffic in all mirrors every few seconds, usually starting with rear view, followed by the appropriate door mirror for following/overtaking vehicles and prior to moving in either mirrors direction.

How do I drive defensively when approaching traffic lights?

Plan to `arrive to go`. In other words, rear mirror check and reduce speed on approach in order to come to a gentle halt and in the appropriate gear to enable you to continue through a new green light. Remember, a green light does not mean go, it means go if safe and clear to do so. NEVER commit to passing through any junction without checking right and left for light jumpers. An experienced driver will be able to predict the lights changing in his/her favour.

How do I begin to learn to drive?

You start by watching a good driver and learning the basic highway code. Then find a recommended approved instructor, don’t just look for the cheapest you can find because the cheaper they are, the more time you will spend parked up at the side of the road allegedly learning your theory. The best way to learn is perhaps a double lesson once or even twice a week. Expect to need around 40 hours if you have no experience.

What does “keeping your hands at the 10 o’clock-2 o’clock position” mean?

Imagine a clock on the steering wheel. 10 o’clock is the upper left region of the steering wheel, keep your left hand there. Your right hand should be at 2 o’clock, just above the very right of the steering wheel.

Didn’t the “10 and 2” rule change because of airbag injuries?

Yes. Now it’s recommended to put your hands at 9 and 3, or 8 and 4 to avoid airbag injuries.

How do I deal with animals in the road while driving?

Slow down/stop and wait for them to move. Do not honk or try to frighten them. Just be patient. The roads have encroached upon their environment, not the other way around.



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