Defensive Strategies for Driving
In this section we will identify the concepts of defensive driving and demonstrate how they can be employed by drivers to reduce the likelihood of crashes, deaths, injuries, and economic losses.
BE PREPARED. Think about your trip before you get into the driver's seat. Traveling when traffic is light and weather is good increases mobility and safety.
If you aren't sure of the way, study a map and plan your route before you get on the highway. Memorize not only the highway exit you want to use, but also the one that comes before it so you will have time to move over to the exit lane. Be sure to get plenty of rest before your trip. Also, check your car to make sure it is in good operating condition and check the condition of your spare tire; you may need it.
More than 41,000 people lose their lives in motor vehicle crashes each year and over two million more suffer disabling injuries, according to the National Safety Council. The triple threat of high speeds, impaired or careless driving and not using occupant restraints threatens every driver—regardless of how careful or how skilled.
Driving defensively means not only taking responsibility for yourself and your actions but also keeping an eye on "the other guy." The National Safety Council suggests the following guidelines to help reduce your risks on the road.
Don't start the engine without securing each passenger in the car, including children and pets. Safety belts save thousands of lives each year! Lock all doors.
Remember that driving too fast or too slow can increase the likelihood of collisions.
Don't kid yourself. If you plan to drink, designate a driver who won't drink. Alcohol is a factor in almost half of all fatal motor vehicle crashes.
Be alert! If you notice that a car is straddling the center line, weaving, making wide turns, stopping abruptly or responding slowly to traffic signals, the driver may be impaired.
Avoid an impaired driver by turning right at the nearest corner or exiting at the nearest exit. If it appears that an oncoming car is crossing into your lane, pull over to the roadside, sound the horn and flash your lights.
Notify the police immediately after seeing a motorist who is driving suspiciously.
Follow the rules of the road. Don't contest the "right of way" or try to race another car during a merge. Be respectful of other motorists.
Don't follow too closely. Always use a "three-second following distance" or a "three-second plus following distance."
While driving, be cautious, aware and responsible.