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Defensive Driving Tips To Help Keep You Safe

Years ago I took a Defensive Driving Course and many of the techniques stuck with me. Indeed, some of them probably kept me out of serious accidents. Here are a few of the common sense tips I learned:

  • When traveling on a 4 lane or wider highway always stay in the right hand lane whenever possible, at least in the good old USA, unless you are passing someone.

    If an oncoming car loses control, and swerves across the median, the chances are that it will hit a vehicle in the left lane before hitting one in the right lane. So the right lane is the safest place to be. Always play the odds in your favor.

    Along the same lines, if you're traveling in the left lane and someone coming towards you swerves across the line, you have very little time to react. This is how head-on collisions occur.

    Curves are especially dangerous in this respect. The next time you are traveling around a curve on a road where there is no median, look at how worn the center line is. This is from cars crossing over into the oncoming lane. Be cautious, and stay to the right, especially on curves.

  • When traveling on a multi-lane road always give yourself maneuvering room in case another car looses control. Don't drive along right next to another vehicle, especially big trucks. One false move and you could get tangled up under the wheels of an 18 wheeler.

    The idea is to always have an escape area, or a space to the front, rear and sides of your vehicle. That way if something goes wrong you have a place to maneuver into to avoid crashing.

  • Distance between you and the vehicle in front of you is absolutely critical. You must be able to maneuver, under control, if something happens to the vehicle in front of you.

    This is especially true if you are traveling in the rain or snow. Allow yourself additional space if the road conditions are bad, because you can't stop as fast as you normally could.

    When road conditions are bad you don't want to be in the position where you have to make a panic stop, because then you will lose control of your vehicle. You must be able to slow down gradually and under control.

    If someone behind you gets impatient and passes you, simply back off and put an appropriate distance between you and them. It could save your life.

  • Be very cautious at stop signs and traffic lights. Whenever you take off from a stop sign or a traffic light after stopping, always look for oncoming cars that may be turning in front of you, and for cross traffic from both directions on the street you are going to cross. Don't assume that someone is going to stop just because they have a red light or a stop sign. Don't pull out in front of them until you are sure they have committed to stopping or yielding the right-of-way to you.

    Also, when you are driving down the road always be on the look out for drivers who may not stop at side streets or intersections where they have either a stop sign or a red light. When you see someone approaching, slow down and be ready to stop just in case they don't....and when slowing down always be aware of how close cars behind you are. You don't want to slow down too quickly with someone on your rear bumper.

  • Anticipating Traffic Situations...If you anticipate traffic conditions ahead of you and don't tailgate, you can avoid unnecessary braking and acceleration, and improve your fuel economy by 5-10%. This defensive driving strategy is not only safer, it will also reduce wear on your tires and brakes and save you money.

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