Cars are great—they can take us wherever we need to go. They give us a sense of freedom and make our lives easier. But, they are also dangerous weapons that kill and seriously injure tens of thousands of people every year. You can never fully eliminate the risk associated with driving, but developing some good defensive driving habits, can minimize it greatly. You can stay ahead of the curve and head off potentially dangerous problems with greater success.
Assume Everyone is an Idiot
This one may sound a bit mean, and often times, we are told not to make assumptions. But, when it comes to driving and staying safe on the road, it can pay off big time. Assume everyone on the road is an idiot, that if there is a mistake or bonehead move to be made in a particular driving scenario, they will make it. Assuming the person will do the right and safe thing will take you off your guard. After driving in various parts of Southeast Asia, which are notorious for unsafe road conditions and crazy driving, this tip served me very well. Witnessing ‘’what the heck is wrong with that person’’ maneuvers was a daily occurrence for me.
Use the High Eyes
This term refers to a technique used by race car drivers, which involves not just focusing on the car in front of you, but the horizon. When we are driving, it is easy to just pay attention to the car in front of us—we brake when they brake, we speed up when they speed up,etc..Keeping your eyes ‘’high’’ allows you to take in the whole traffic pattern. It will give you time to switch lanes or start braking to send a heads up to the person behind you.
Keep Lane Changes to a Minimum
The more you change lanes while driving, the more likely you are to get into an accident. During the switch, all sorts of issues can happen, such as colliding with a driver because you moved into his blind spot or crashing into another vehicle that was moving into the lane at the same time. Fight the urge to constantly switch lanes so that you can drive as fast as you can without another car getting in your way. Only change when absolutely necessary.
Look Out for the Other Lane Changers
To maximize your protection against the dangers associated with lane changing, simply staying put in your own lane is not enough. You have to be on the lookout for the ‘’fast changers’’ and the ‘’blind spot changers. The former are those erratic, impatient drivers who dart in and out of traffic, always trying to go a bit faster. Regularly check your rearview and sideview mirrors to see if they are approaching you from behind—you can minimize the risk of being cut off by keeping at your current speed or slowing down if you really feel like they are going to cut you off. Do not try to put them in their place by speeding up and boxing them in; you never know if he is a crazy, road rage maniac.
As for the latter type of driver, they are not as easy to spot. But, to reduce the risk of a crash because you were in their blind spot, you should either drive right alongside the car, or let him go ahead of you so that you are totally behind him—in either scenario, you are easily spotted.
Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who blogs about a variety of auto topics; she recommends visiting Kanetix to compare quotes for Canadian car insurance.