By MICHAEL SCHREYER
It’s incredible to think about the amount of things our body can do just on reflex. It’s more than just a knee jerk reaction when the Doctor hits you with the little rubber hammer, but reflex extends to the way we do things as well. Think about driving. When you first learned how to drive, you had to contemplate every little action in order to make it from A to B.
How hard do you push the gas to get up to speed? How hard do you hit the brakes when you need to slow down or stop? When do you use the turn signal? Over time, all of these various little facets that make up driving your car, all become reflex. We do them instinctively and without having to think about it.
But what about when the road throws you a curveball, like when someone stops short in front of you or a deer jumps out in front of your car. Typically, you only have a few split seconds to make a choice on how to react to the sudden incident. The choices you make will either steer you towards- or clear of- disaster. For this reason and many others, it’s important to learn how to drive defensively.
What is Defensive Driving?
Defensive driving is a driving practice or type of training that teaches motorists how to be safer on the roads. This can range anywhere from how to deal with bad weather to how to avoid other, unsafe, motorists on the road. Drivers that practice defensive driving are not only less likely to get into car accidents, but if they are in an accident, it tends to be much less severe than other motorists.
So if defensive driving is such a good thing, why doesn’t everyone do it? It seems like it should be a straightforward solution to the problem of car accidents, collisions and automotive fatalities, and in an ideal world, we wouldn’t have this problem to begin with. However, since the world is far from ideal and people, more often than not, are in some great hurry or another, defensive driving becomes important.
While there are schools and special training programs you can participate in that will teach you how to drive defensively, most of it comes down to a little common sense and some situational awareness. Here are a few quick tips for learning how to become a more defensive driver.
Tips for Defensive Driving
- Buckle UP: Don’t start the engine without securing each passenger in the car, including children and pets.
- Leave Yourself an Out: More space means more time to escape dangerous situations.
- Slow down: especially during bad weather or at night.
- Always obey the speed limit.
- Concentrate on your driving at all times and keep an eye out for people, pets, cyclists and other roadside hazards.
- Put the phone down: Don’t text and drive.
- Expect the unexpected: Plan for escape routes.
- Never drive if you are impaired e.g. lack of sleep or under the influence.
- Check your mirrors frequently.
- Assume that drivers will run stop signs or red lights and be prepared to react.
- Follow the rules of the road: Don’t contest the right of way or try to race another car. Be respectful of other motorists.
Just by keeping these tips in mind when you’re on the road, you can take some serious steps towards keeping you and your family safe while driving.
MICHAEL SCHREYER is guest contributor for The Buzz Insider. He is a personal injury attorney in Maryland and a partner in the firm of Alpert Schreyer, LLC. He is an experienced personal injury attorney, serving the Maryland and Washington, DC area and provides information and advice on his law blog at dcmdlaw.com.
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