4 Ways to Be a Better Defensive Driver

Staying safe on the road requires being mindful of what you, other motorists, and pedestrians do or could do. You can’t control what others will do, but you can anticipate, be proactive, and reduce your odds of getting into fender-benders by driving defensively.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, there were 39,508 fatal vehicle accidents in the U.S. in 2021 -- resulting in 42,939 deaths. Other sources note there are around 6 million accidents annually. Only a small number of the people involved in vehicle collisions become fatality statistics. But many of them suffer injuries ranging from minor to catastrophic.

Keep reading to learn about four strategies to be a better defensive motorist.

1. Watch Your Speed

Driving too fast is one way to increase the odds of getting into a car accident. So, if you have a heavy foot on the gas pedal, you’ll want to curb that driving behavior. You’ll have a smaller margin of error to stop suddenly or avoid obstacles if you’re traveling too fast. 

Remember that the posted speed limit reflects how fast you can go in ideal road conditions. If the road is wet, covered in snow, or obscured by fog, you should lower your speed to stay safe.

2. Avoid Aggressive Driving

Aggressive driving is another problem you'll want to avoid to be a better defensive driver. Unfortunately, many people on the roadways and highways drive aggressively. Such driving behaviors include tailgating, speeding, failing to yield, changing lanes frequently, and cutting off other drivers. And that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

A previous study shows that eight in 10 motorists displayed substantial anger, road rage, or aggression behind the wheel at least once the previous month. Being a defensive, rather than an aggressive, driver will help make the roads safer for everyone.

3. Give Yourself Enough Space

When on the road, you need a path to escape problems. You need a few car lengths between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you. If a driver behind your car tailgates, move into another lane to lower the risks of being rear-ended. It’s never a good idea to be boxed in with nowhere to go should you need to get out of a dangerous situation.

4. Remain Vigilant

You also need to scan the road to keep tabs on road conditions that can change at a moment's notice. You must know what's in front, behind, and beside your car. Is there an accident up ahead? If you’re scanning the roadway, you can spot the issue and change lanes. Is a fellow motorist driving erratically? Keep a safe distance. 

5. Maintain Your Vehicle 

It’ll be easier to be a good defensive driver if your vehicle is maintained and repaired as required. For instance, getting your brakes serviced regularly will enable you to stop more efficiently. So, don’t overlook the importance of keeping your car in tip-top shape.

While being a defensive driver will reduce the risks of getting into accidents, it won’t eliminate the odds of fender-benders. Accidents happen every day on roadways and highways. And even if you’re careful on the road, all it takes is one bad driver to make things difficult for everyone else. 

It makes sense to contact a car accident lawyer after a car accident. That’s especially true if you sustain injuries in a vehicle collision. You may suffer injuries requiring time off work. An accident might turn your world upside down and possibly change the course of your life.

A lawyer can help you get compensation for your injuries, medical care, and lost income.

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