Defensive Driving: What Is It All About?
Use these tips to help you stay away from danger and keep safe on the road.
Defensive driving is a term you may not have heard before. Defensive driving is a style of road driving that keeps you away from other people’s problems.
The main point of this approach to driving is to avoid being involved in a road accident. The premise is simple: you can’t control what other drivers do but you can control how you react to them. Defensive driving is all about being proactive whenever possible and giving yourself plenty of time to react.
Here are some tips and techniques to help you become a defensive driver!
Create Your Safe Space
When was the last time you heard a variation of the following: “Someone hit me from behind and I had nowhere to go?” As a driver it is your responsibility to keep as much space around your car as possible on the road. That way you’ll have room to avoid hazards and other drivers if they make mistakes.
Always allow yourself enough room to stop and slow down. Good practice is to follow the two second rule when driving behind another vehicle. If distance is a better marker for you, always aim for three car lengths between you and the car in front. Remember, when driving on the motorway, at high speeds or slippery conditions, your stopping distance will be much greater, so try and give yourself at least four seconds.
You can use landmarks to count the seconds out until you get a sense for the distance. Allow the car in front of you to pass a fixed object such a s a streetlight. As the rear of their car lines up with the streetlight count two seconds. If you pass the streetlight before you get to two, you’re too close!
Make sure you have plenty of space behind you before slowing down. If a vehicle is following too close you can always slow down and let them pass. You don’t want to get hit in the rear if the driver behind doesn’t notice you slowing!
Make sure your give parked cars at the ride of the road enough space to open their doors! It’s also important to leave plenty of room for cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians. In fact new penalties for drivers who “car door” could be introduced this year to increase road safety for cyclists and pedestrians.
Keeping your eyes a few car lengths ahead means you have a lot of time to scan your surroundings for relevant signs and potential hazards, such as cyclists and pedestrians. If you find your eyes staying close to the front of your car, you’ll have less warning if the driver ahead of you applies the brakes, or if a pedestrian begins crossing the street. Keeping your eyes up could buy you as much as 20 seconds of reaction time! There is a hidden benefit as well. By looking far ahead, you will naturally tend to drive in the centre of your lane.
Be Familiar With Your Route
If you more or less know how to get to where you’re going, you will make fewer unexpected lane changes or wrong turns, which means you’ll be at a lower risk for collision. You’ll also save money on petrol if you’re not driving around for hours trying to find your way! Avoid distraction and try to memorise the route before you get behind the wheel. Hands-free navigation apps on your phone or sat-nav can help too.
It’s important to note again that no matter what, you can’t control everything that happens on the road. By following these tips and controlling how you react to difficult scenarios you can be a safe driver.
Still learning to drive? Make sure you follow these practices so they become habits when you pass your test. The best way to build habits is to make something habitual. Make sure you’re getting plenty of on-road experience outside of lessons by practising with a friend or family member as often as possible. With our flexible Learner Driver Insurance, available from two hours right up to 90 days, it has never been easier to get insured as a learner.