5 Easy Defensive Driving Techniques to Stay Safe on the Road

UPDATED | Dec 29, 2023


Defensive driving is not just a skill, but a mindset that can save lives and prevent accidents on the road. While it’s impossible to control the actions of other drivers, you can take steps to protect yourself and your passengers. In this article, we’ll discuss five easy defensive driving techniques that every driver should master: speed control, spacing, traffic checks, avoiding distractions, and maneuvering around obstructions.

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Easy Defensive Driving Techniques

1 | Speed Control

One of the fundamental principles of defensive driving is maintaining appropriate speed. Speed limits are not just arbitrary numbers; they are set to ensure safe driving conditions for everyone on the road. Here’s how you can practice speed control:

Obey Speed Limits: Always drive at or below the posted speed limits. Speed limits are adjusted based on road conditions, traffic, and the surrounding environment, so following them is crucial for safety.

Adjust for Weather: In adverse weather conditions, such as rain, snow, or fog, reduce your speed significantly. Reduced visibility and slippery roads require slower driving to maintain control of your vehicle.

Respect Traffic Flow: Drive at a speed that matches the flow of traffic. Driving significantly faster or slower than other vehicles can lead to dangerous situations.

RELATED ARTICLE: Speed Laws & Consequences

Following Distance and Spacing

2 | Safe Spacing

Maintaining a safe spacing with the car in front of you is essential for reacting to sudden stops or emergencies. The 10mph=1 car length rule is a simple guideline to ensure proper spacing:

Calculate Your Speed: Round up to the nearest 10’s. If you’re travelling 32mph, round up to 40mph.

Calculate the Car Length Spaces: For every 10mph your car is travelling, give a carlength spacing.

Maintain a SAFE Distance While Driving: 10mph=1 car length, 20mph=2 car lengths, 30mph-3 car legnths, 40mph=4 car legths, etc.

RELATED ARTICLE: The Art of Defensive Driving | Safe Spacing

Following Distance and Spacing

3 | Traffic Checks

Defensive drivers are constantly aware of their surroundings and anticipate potential hazards:

Intersection Awareness: When approaching an intersection, slow down and scan for oncoming traffic, pedestrians, and cyclists in ALL directions. Be prepared to stop if necessary.

Check Blind Spots: Regularly check your mirrors and blind spots to be aware of vehicles or obstacles around you. Adjust your position as needed to maintain visibility.

Use Turn Signals: Always signal your intentions well in advance to alert other drivers of your maneuvers. This helps prevent unexpected lane changes or turns.

Following Distance and Spacing

4 | Avoid Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is a leading cause of accidents. To stay safe, eliminate distractions:

Cell Phones: Put your phone on silent, in “Do Not Disturb” mode, or out of reach while driving. If you need to use your phone, pull over to a safe location.

Eating and Drinking: Avoid eating or drinking while driving. These activities can take your attention away from the road.

Adjust Settings Before Driving: Set your GPS, adjust the radio, and climate control settings before you start driving to minimize distractions.

LEARN MORE: A Guide to Avoiding Distracted Driving

Maneuver around obstructions on the road

5 | Maneuver Around Obstructions

Sometimes, you may encounter unexpected obstructions on the road:

Stay Calm: When you see an obstacle ahead, remain calm and assess the situation.

Signal and Change Lanes: If safe, signal your intention to change lanes and move around the obstruction, giving ample room.

Slow Down: If changing lanes isn’t possible, slow down and prepare to stop if necessary. Avoid swerving or making sudden maneuvers.

Defensive driving is about being proactive and prepared for any situation on the road. By practicing these five easy techniques—speed control, following distance and spacing, traffic checks, avoiding distractions, and maneuvering around obstructions—you can significantly reduce your risk of accidents and ensure a safer driving experience for yourself and others. Remember that safe driving is a responsibility we all share, and adopting these defensive driving techniques can make our roads safer for everyone.

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