Defensive driving means going beyond what you’re obligated to do. You’re taking extra steps in case someone else makes a mistake.
Say you pull up to a four-way stop. A car arrives from another direction, but you were first. It’s legal for you to start through the intersection. However, a defensive driver may wait for an extra second to make sure the other driver isn’t going to go out of turn.
Do you have an obligation to wait? You don’t. It is your turn. But waiting may be the difference between getting involved in an accident and avoiding it if that other driver goes forward at the wrong time.
How else can you be a defensive driver?
If you want to be a defensive driver and avoid accidents, here are some simple and yet important tips:
- Leave yourself enough time so that you don’t have to rush. This way, you can drive slowly and cautiously, without added pressure.
- Avoid distractions at all times. Keep your phone off, for instance, and set your radio station before you drive.
- Never drive when you’re not feeling alert or awake. Defensive drivers have to constantly scan traffic around them, looking for issues, and you must be on your game mentally to do it.
- Think about common errors people make. A lot of accidents happen at intersections, for instance. Be extra aware in dangerous areas.
- Avoid aggressive or negligent drivers. If someone is speeding, texting, swerving or tailgating, keep your distance. Let them pass if you can.
Unfortunately, even defensive drivers get hit and injured. If you do, take the time to consider your legal options.