Defensive Driving Rule #1: Pay Attention
I never saw him!" is the most common excuse heard after a collision. Was the other vehicle invisible? Virtually all collisions involve inattention on the part of one or both drivers. Inattention can involve many things, some of which are daydreaming, distractions, sleepiness, fatigue, talking, etc.
Defensive Driving Rule #02: Don't Speed
Driving at a higher than reasonable speed increases your risk in two ways: it cuts your reaction time 66and results in more "stored" energy
A defensive driver chooses a speed matching traffic as closely as possible without exceeding speed limits. If traffic is moving at higher speed than you should go, keep to the right and out of the way. This is often a legal requirement as well, if you are traveling at a speed less than the flow of traffic. Also, don't neglect to maintain the correct following distance.
Defensive Driving Rule #03: Create Space
Guard your safety by actively creating space around your vehicle, never allowing yourself to get "boxed in." Adequate space creates time and helps you avoid collisions. Maintain at LEAST 2—3 seconds of following distance, more if you can. Adjust your position in traffic as necessary to avoid driving in others' blind areas. Don't allow yourself to be tailgated—change lanes or adjust your speed to encourage tailgaters to pass you.
How do you apply the 2—3 -second rule? Watch as the vehicle ahead passes some object—I often use shadows or marks on the road surface—then count "one-thousand-one, one thousand two." If you pass that same spot before getting to "two," you're too close—back off!
It is important to leave space even when stopped for a light. Leave room in front so you can pull away if the car ahead stalls or doesn't move, or if you need to move because of danger approaching from behind.
Defensive Driving Rule #04: Always Signal Your Intentions
How many times do you see drivers who do not signal? Or worse, drivers who signal a right turn but turn left? Other times, especially with vehicles whose signals do not self-cancel (trucks and motorcycles in particular), you'll see the oblivious driver cruising down the road with a signal still blinking when the turn was perhaps miles back down the road! It is important to pay attention!
Be careful not to send the wrong message when you signal. Make sure you send clear information. For example, if you are approaching an intersection, and you intend to turn right immediately after the intersection into a service station, be careful not to signal too soon. Other oncoming drivers may interpret your signal that you intend to turn AT the intersection rather than beyond it, and they may turn left in front of you. Finally, use your signal before you start the turn or a lane change! It's not of much use if you wait until you're halfway through the turn before you use the signal!
Defensive Driving Rule #05: Look Down the Road!
This means keep your eyes UP and looking down the road. Many drivers focus on the road only 5 or 8 seconds ahead. You should be looking about 15-20 seconds ahead of your vehicle, farther if you can. This gives you the time to recognize and avoid most potential hazards before they become a problem.
This technique is also useful for new drivers when learning how to steer. Keeping your eyes focused far down the road (instead of just past the end of the hood) creates stability in the roadway. In other words, it helps eliminate the unsteady weaving that is one characteristic of a novice driver.
The importance of your peripheral vision is that while it is not clear or focused, it detects movement—it is your "early warning" vision. If you allow your eyes to remain fixed on any one thing, your peripheral vision immediately begins to narrow down into "tunnel" vision—and you lose your ability to detect movement to the sides. Keeping your eyes moving prevents this from occurring.
Your vision is perhaps the most important tool you have while driving. Use it effectively! Look as far down the road as possible, and use a scanning motion to take in and analyze everything that is happening around you or close enough to be a hazard
Defensive Driving Rule #06: Drive Predictably
One of the best ways to create a safe environment for yourself and others while driving is to be predictable. Plainly stated, you don't want to surprise anyone.
Being predictable is part of planning ahead and paying attention -- for the freeway exit, you should change lanes long before your exit ramp, getting yourself into position early so that others have plenty of time and space to react and adjust.
If you are confused about where to turn, or looking for an address, be careful not to stop dead in the road when others aren't expecting your sudden stop. Instead, pull off to the side or into a parking lot until you figure out what to do. Pay attention to your turn signals. It is not unusual to see a driver whose signal doesn't auto-cancel happily motoring along, unaware, for many blocks. No one knows WHAT they are going to do. Are they looking for a turn and unfamiliar with the area, or did they just forget that the signal was "on?"
Another trouble area is maintaining proper position during turns. Do you often see others turning wide into an incorrect lane, either left or right? If you turn from right lane to right lane, left lane to left lane, you are being predictable, and traffic flows smoother.
Defensive Driving Rule #07: Know Your Blind Spots!
It should make you uncomfortable if you are driving in other drivers' blind spots! Virtually all vehicles have blind areas—even motorcycles. (Motorcyclists are sometimes limited in how far they can twist their head to look behind them.) Yet, some drivers habitually change lanes without checking their blind areas for other vehicles. It's a good idea to adjust your position relative to other traffic to stay out of other drivers' blind spots whenever you can.
Where are your blind spots? That depends on the vehicle. A car typically has blind areas at the sides near the rear of the vehicle, meaning you cannot see anything in these areas .to cover your blind spote check physcically or adjust your mirror to cover the blind spot.but safe practice is check phyically.
It is important to check your mirrors every 5 to 8 seconds while driving. At the same time, it's not enough just to check the mirrorsbecouse mirrors help you 90% and for remaining 10% makesure you check your blindspot to make it 100% safe.
Defensive Driving Rule #08: Slow Down in Rain or Snow
roads get extremely slippery in the first few minutes of rain. This can happen anywhere after a long dry spell, but it is less likely in places where it rains all the time.
The cause is a film of oil that accumulates on the roadway and rises when the rain begins to fall. This creates a "Slip-N-Slide." It takes about thirty minutes of steady rain to wash the road clean. The first thing to do when the rain (or snow) starts to fall is slow down. The standard "driving instructor rule of thumb" is slow down by a third in the rain, and by at least half in the snow. Slow more if ice may be present. Make sure your tires are in great shape and that they are inflated properly.
Defensive Driving Rule #09: Avoid Head Injuries
What's the one part of the human body that doesn't heal quickly (or at all) if injured? Forty to fifty percent of brain injuries occur in vehicular mishaps and even in cases of minor injuries, the long term effects can be permanent and life-altering. For kids, 20% of head injuries result from cycling accidents.
Effects for any level of brain injury can include:
loss of sensations
reduced perception, recognition and judgment
loss of initiative
inability to concentrate
physical disabilities and loss of basic motor skills
poor cognitive and communication skills
It is not necessary to bang your head against something in order to sustain a brain injury - the whipping movement possible in a collision (whiplash, for example) can cause injury.
Make certain your head restraints are adjusted properly, and wear your seat belts. The head restraint should be raised up where it is behind your HEAD, not your neck. In a lower position, it will actually make your injuries worse, as it acts as a pivot around which your head can rotate. Another source of head injuries is being ejected from your vehicle. Wear seat belts and shoulder harnesses to keep you inside the vehicle where you are afforded some protection.