The main point of defensive driving is to avoid a road accident. Have a look at our defensive driving tips – they may well be familiar to you but it’s always worth refreshing your knowledge when it comes to driving safely.
Rule of three
Experts say that there are three things can endanger you, your passengers and other drivers. These are:
- Driving at high speeds
- Driving either carelessly or under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Not using seatbelts
These things can affect you regardless of how skilled you are as a driver. The last thing you want is to have to make a claim on your car insurance.
Research has found that up to 85% of drivers admit to speeding (opens in a new window). Many people enjoy speed, and most see a difference between ‘safe’ and ‘dangerous’ speed. But don’t be fooled, driving too fast – or too slow for that matter – can still increase the likelihood of collisions.
So, our first tip of defensive driving is stick to the speed limit. Also, whilst driving within legal speeds, be cautious, aware and responsible.
Linked to this is: don’t follow too closely. Always allow a two- or three-second stopping distance or even more if you can – it could give you valuable seconds to avoid a collision.
Follow the rules of the road, and don’t contest your right of way or try to race another car when traffic is merging. It may just make the difference between having a collision and avoiding a collision.
Following the rules of the road also means not taking a chance on ‘jumping’ traffic lights, and junctions.
Always wear your seat belt. Also, make it a habit not to start the engine without securing each passenger in the car, particularly children. This is your responsibility.
Research has found that safety belts save thousands of lives each year. An additional safety measure is to lock all the doors, and enforce child locks.
The best rule of thumb with drinking and driving is forget it completely and avoid alcohol altogether.
If you plan to drink, designate a driver who won’t drink anything. Alcohol is a factor in almost half of all fatal motor vehicle crashes.
Also, be alert at all times of the state of other drivers! If you notice that a car is weaving, straddling the centre line, or making wide turns, or perhaps stopping abruptly or responding slowly to traffic signals, the driver may be impaired. So avoid them.
It may also be a good idea to stop and make a call to the Police if you are seriously concerned for their safety, or for the other vehicles on the road.
- Avoid distractions
- Mobile phones, car stereos and conversations can all contribute to you losing your concentration in a vital moment. Do your best to limit distractions.
- Look down the road
- This technique can give you time to avoid problems that are literally down the road. Many drivers focus on looking only at the car ahead. If you keep your eyes up and look into the distance it could buy you 15 to 20 seconds of reaction time.
- Slow down in rain, snow or fog
- This one’s common sense, but driving can quickly become difficult and road conditions can change radically in adverse weather.
- Know your blind spots
- Every car has blind spots. But by positioning your mirrors well to check your blind spots, you will boost your chances of being aware of speeding cars, pedestrians, bicycles and motorcycles.
- Maintain your tyres
- Low tyre pressure can affect your driving and vehicle handling, but healthy tyres will keep you safe – and lower your CO2 emissions as the engine has less work to do. Plus blown tyres could leave you stranded.