Ask Away...: Defensive Driving: Trust Nobody

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Defensive Driving: Trust Nobody

Every year, something on the order of a million people are killed on the roads. That’s the equivalent of one 911 tragedy every single day of the year. But because it’s so normal, it’s not something that’s ordinarily discussed, despite the fact that it ruins millions of people’s lives every year.

Although autonomous cars are still some distance off in the future, there are things that regular drivers can do today to drive more safely. The key, according to Mark Lewis, a top executive at the Institute of Advanced Motorists, is to drive defensively by predicting the mistakes of other road users. By driving defensively, he says, motorists are better able to stay safe on the road and can make a meaningful difference to the probability that they will be harmed.

Defensive Driving Tip #1: See Someone Driving Erratically? Pull Over

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Sometimes defensive driving means not driving at all.

Defensive drivers know that the time they’re most at risk of an accident is when another driver isn’t paying attention to the road. And so if you notice that a driver in front or behind you is swerving all over the road or randomly accelerating and decelerating, then there’s a good chance that they’re doing something other than driving. Erratic drivers are dangerous because it usually means that they’re fiddling about with something on the back seat, on their mobile phone or drunk.

According to Adam Beckett from the Aviva insurance company, individual drivers can’t control what other people do on the road, but they can make their own decisions and decide to get out of harm’s way. He recommends that people avoid doing anything aggressive, like tailgating, and if they are being tailgated by another driver, to simply move out of the way at the earliest convenient time.

Defensive Driving Tip #2: Don’t Rely On Indicators

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Although knowing which attorney to call if you literally get hit by a truck is important, you want to make sure that you avoid situations like that in the first place. One key tool in your defensive driving arsenal is never to trust indicators. People may intend to make a particular turning, but that doesn’t mean that they will.

For instance, you might be waiting at a junction and see a truck on the main road indicating to turn down the road you’re emerging from. Defensive drivers will wait until the truck has actually turned to pull out, just in case the driver changes his or her mind at the last minute.

Defensive Driving Tip #3: Create Space Around Your Vehicle

If you’ve spent much time traveling on the interstate or the motorway, you’ll have noticed that there are sometimes marking or “chevrons” on the road. The purpose of these markings is to help drivers maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front. Unfortunately, most drivers ignore these markings and bunch up to other cars on the road. The problem with this bunching is that it makes collisions more likely.

The solution, therefore, is to get as much space as possible between your car and other vehicles on the road. You never know whether the person driving the car in front of you is texting on their phone and at risk of having an accident, so maintaining a safe distance is essential.

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Defensive Driving Tip #4: Predict What Other People Are Going To Do

You can’t control what other drivers do on the roads, but you can certainly take a good stab at what you think they’re going to do. Most drivers provide subtle cues which give away their intentions. Some are obvious, like revving at the lights, but others are more subtle, like veering out into the middle of the road slightly. Keep your eyes peeled for what other drivers are doing, and react accordingly.

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Defensive Driving Tip #5: Slow Down For Blind Bends

If you’re coming up to a blind bend that you can’t see around, it goes without saying that you should slow down. If the bend is sharp and you’re on the inside, it’s probably a good idea to move as close to the apex as possible. The majority of drivers don’t have the ability to drive in an arc, meaning that if you’re near to the center of the road, they could cut you up.

Defensive Driving Tip #6: Trust Nobody

Just because another driver is flashing their lights to let you go, doesn’t mean that it’s safe to proceed. Often they will let you go without realizing that they are being overtaken by another vehicle which could lead to a dangerous collision.

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