Defensive Driving Skills
By: Good2GoPublished: August 10, 2016
If you can think back to taking Driver’s Ed as a teenager, you might remember being taught how to drive defensively. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, we entered the world of driving a little green behind the ears, yet filled with the excitement of no longer having to ask our parents for rides. But countless traffic nightmares, road rage-induced fits, and near-missed collisions later and we can probably say we’ve been a bit jaded by the highway’s often unkind nature. It’s easy to throw our defensive driving skills out the window and take on more aggressive habits.
However, aggressive driving can put you and other motorists in undesirable and dangerous situations. When was the last time you restrained yourself from reacting angrily toward another driver? It’s time we all take a deep breath and consider these tips for keeping a calm demeanor in even the most blood-boiling driving scenarios.
Give yourself extra time
Being late can only exaggerate any amount of stress we may already be feeling. Picture this: you’re already late for work and there is a huge traffic jam likely to add at least 20 extra minutes onto your travel time. At this point, you’re late AND frustrated – a ticking time bomb likely to result in aggressive driving behaviors. If you give yourself extra time and anticipate things like traffic or stopping for gas, you can stay within a comfortable time frame and eliminate the unnecessary stress of being late.
Keep an open mind- don’t expect other drivers to act a certain way
Just because you would react to a situation in a particular way does not mean the person next to you will. That’s why it’s important to remain alert to your surroundings. If you quickly change lanes in front of another driver, you can’t expect he or she will stop. Of course, it’s nice to give that person the benefit of the doubt, but what if they were changing the radio station? People, especially while driving, are unpredictable, so we must always use our discretion and drive with the knowledge that anything is possible.
Be aware of driving in special road conditions
Always take into consideration scenes around you that could alter a person’s driving in any way. Is it raining? Snowing? Are you driving through a construction zone? Just because you may understand how to drive safely through various conditions, doesn’t mean every does. If you find yourself driving in a situation like this, be extra alert to your surroundings and leave plenty of space between you and the other cars. If they suddenly make an erratic move, it can help you avoid an accident.
Avoid distractions (eating, cell phone use)
If you are driving, make sure to eliminate as many distractions as possible. If you are a passenger, be as helpful as you can so the driver can concentrate on the road. Driving while eating, or with children or pets can be extremely distracting and frustrating. While driving without any distractions is nearly impossible if you have 3 kids or are operating a GPS, it’s an important factor in driving defensively. You can’t keep your focus completely on the road when you’ve got a crying baby in the back and Siri telling you she’s recalculating for the 12th time. If you’re not focused on the road, then you can’t know what other drivers are doing around you.
Plan ahead and think of how you’d react in specific scenarios
What good is your Plan A if you don’t have a Plan B? You certainly wouldn’t plan an outdoor wedding without at least considering what you’d do if it rained that day. Just like it’s a good idea to get into your car with a plan. Should something happen, like a collision, you should know what steps you need to take to report the accident. If your vehicle breaks down, would you be able to fix the problem yourself or would you need to call a tow company? Plan A is always easy, but since the best laid plans often go awry, it’s good to plan ahead and be prepared.
Dealing with an aggressive driver
If you do find yourself amidst an altercation with an aggressive driver, consider taking a few easy steps to help calm the situation.
When another driver is noticeably aggressive, for example tailgating, weaving in traffic, or honking their horn, then it’s your duty not to “poke the bear.” Stay to the right unless you are passing someone. Apologize with a hand gesture (middle finger not recommended) to signify that you are sorry for any action that may have caused him or her to become angry. Overall, don’t be a jerk and drive with the safety of yourself and others in mind. Driving can be a frustrating task, so it’s in everyone’s best interest to do what we can to make it a pleasant experience.
Defensive Driving could have monetary benefits as well, if you’ve completed a defensive driving course within the past three years. Good2Go Auto Insurance offers a Defensive Driver Discount of up to 15% in most states. Not only will you be lowering your chances of having an accident, you will also be saving money. We call that a win-win! Click here to get your free auto insurance quote from Good2Go today and learn if you qualify for our Defensive Driver Discount.