Defensive driving is a term and skill that is getting evermore popular among drivers. In today’s hurried up and distracted world, driving itself seems to be only 50 percent of the effort. The other 50 percent is protecting yourself, your passengers and other participants in traffic.
Every country in the world has its own traffic culture, making defensive driving more or less needed. The only thing I can conclude is that there’s no shortage of “road hogs”, where ever you live.
I myself have more than twenty years of experience driving on roads in my country and abroad. I can’t imagine a better testing range for defensive driving then my country. 90 percent of the roads are with two lanes, intersection solutions that baffle the mind, poor quality of roads and little existing highways and above that, lots of drivers that lack knowledge but not stupidity.
So, here’s my top 5 defensive driving techniques that drivers worldwide can apply:
Number 1. Keep a safe distance and a cool temper
This is the prime rule for defensive driving and otherwise. Keeping a safe distance means precious time for reaction. In a sudden breaking situation or else, this is the difference between an accident and getting out unharmed. Bumper to bumper driving is not an option in defensive driving. Another forbidden option is a bad temper in traffic. If you have one, get rid of it as soon as possible. This influences proper judgment of the situation and then you’re no better than the ones you’re defending yourself from.
Number 2. Control your speed
Most drivers out there, especially the inexperienced ones have little knowledge about speed. I’m talking in terms of how powerful speed is and what damage it can make. For instance: a speed of 50 km per hour is considered as slow driving. However, If you hit an obstacle at the mentioned speed you’re going to make a lot of damage, trust me. Use the gas throttle wisely and according to the traffic situation.
Number 3. Cautious driving is defensive driving
You’re not driving Formula 1, but the fact is that there are seldom situations in traffic where you can totally put your guard down. How many times do drivers doze off in traffic, almost hitting the car in front, or entering an intersection without looking in all directions? Don’t get me wrong, you shouldn’t be nervous and edgy. Just accept caution as a normal part of defensive driving. Also, keep the level of distraction as low as possible. You can’t be cautious if you’re talking on the phone, smoking a cigarette, listening to loud music and so on.
Number 4. Judgment of the situation in advance
You’re not a psychic but the truth is that if you make a good traffic judgment in advance, there’s a very good possibility that you’ll spare yourself a lot of trouble. A good example is when people in front of you start to break. Don’t watch the car directly in front of you; watch the first few cars in line. Start breaking when they do as the domino effect will cause everybody else to break. Breaking on time will save you from trouble. Also, get used to thinking for other people. For instance, if someone is making a risky overtaking and getting in to trouble, make some space in the lane through cautious braking. Buy helping others, however reckless they are, you’re mostly helping yourself.
Number 5. Expect the unexpected
However careful you are, you can’t always compensate for other people’s mistakes and recklessness. The awful truth is that many drivers out there react and think in ways that are not comprehensible to most normal people. Kamikaze style overtaking, sudden change of lanes, cutting curves and getting on your side of the road are just a few situations to mention. This is a tricky one and when it happens the only protection you have is a swift reaction, swift assessment and Gods help. A good prevention is anticipation of the traffic ahead. If you see things like a challenging curve, intersection, hill with slow traffic (anything that can be possibly dangerous), raise the alarm.
As a precursor to the these defensive driving tips make sure to always respect other drivers on the road, keep your car in good mechanical “shape” and adjust your driving to the weather conditions.
At the end, the more driving experience you have the better you’ll get. You’ll know you’re a master of defensive driving when it becomes second nature.