If you've driven lately, you know that it's an all-out war on the roads these days. Everyone is in a rush. And we all think we are pros at multitasking which means a lot of drivers are eating, responding to an email, changing the AC and trying to operate a two-ton piece of heavy machinery. This is a recipe for disaster, and unfortunately, you may be on the receiving end of it.
You've got to defend yourself from the crazy, distracted drivers on the road today, and some good old fashioned defensive driving practices can help you do that.
Here are the top four defensive driving tips that could have prevented a lot of the wrecks we see in our office every day:
Don't tailgate – especially in traffic. For a lot of reasons but mostly because a person who rear-ends someone else is almost always considered at-fault, even if the other person was being irresponsible. The person in front could have been looking at their phone and slammed on their brakes to avoid hitting someone else. They could have failed to use a blinker and made a quick turn. They could have been driving way too slowly and then suddenly braked. Whatever the case, if YOU hit someone from behind, the fault will most likely fall on YOU making you liable for the damage. On top of that, you'll probably be given a ticket, racking up more costs and frustration. So give the car in front of you some breathing room. I mean it is the law, but it can also keep you out of an irritating and costly mess.
Go easy on the gas when the light turns green – Once the light is green, you totally have the right to go. But there are always drivers rushing to beat the light on the other side, especially at rush hour and during the holidays. So if you're the first in line at the light, take a look in all directions to make sure nobody is coming in hot right at you. If someone runs the light and hits you, it will almost certainly be the other driver's fault. But then you might be facing an uninsured motorist, being without a vehicle, and worst of all, possibly life-changing injuries.
Make the block rather than turning left when you don't have a light. Left turns are risky and can be very dangerous. It's harder to see, and you have to watch for traffic from two different directions making it possible that you will miscalculate. Plus, left turns usually take longer. You don't want to be the jerk holding up traffic by turning left, but you also don't want people to start honking and rushing you to turn before it's safe. It may take a few more seconds, but it is usually much easier and safer to make the block rather than turn left.
On today's roads, probably the best thing you can do to protect yourself against a bad driver is to put down your phone and pay attention. You can avoid a lot of accidents if you are watching what is going on around you. We all think we can handle a quick peek, but in reality, being distracted for even just 3 seconds is enough for a crash to occur. And even if your quick peek does not cause you to swerve or veer out of your lane, it might cause you to miss the chance to avoid someone else's crazy driving.
Try putting your phone in “Do Not Disturb Mode” while driving or leave it in the back seat. Whatever you are tempted to look at can wait. And if you don't steer clear of other distracted drivers, it might have to wait. Maybe even forever.
Did you know?
- 9 people are killed each day by distracted drivers.
- 80% of drivers admitted to doing blatantly dangerous things while driving like changing clothes, steering with a foot (I can't even imagine why), painting nails, etc.
- In the time it takes to read or send a text, you can travel the length of a football field with your eyes OFF THE ROAD.
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