Defensive driving is a driving technique that every driver should understand and practice. While most of us intuitively know what distracted driving entails, there are specific behaviors that can help make you the safest driver possible, preventing crashes and injuries to you and your passengers whenever possible. Defensive driving takes practice and patience, though it is worth it if you are able to prevent serious accidents from happening.
In this article, we will review what defensive driving is, how you can best practice defensive driving, and the benefits of being a safer driver.
The dangers of the road—and how defensive driving can help.
For an in-depth look at the major causes of vehicle accidents and the potential defensive driving has to make our roads safer, check out our new infographic:
What is defensive driving?
Defensive driving entails taking the following actions when on a road or freeway:
- Remaining alert and focused on the road ahead.
- Keeping calm and not rushing movements, such as lane changes.
- Maintaining proper distance between you and the vehicle in front of you.
- Avoiding aggressive, impaired, or careless drivers, moving away from them if possible.
- Watching for changing road or weather conditions.
- Knowing your way and where you will need to turn or exit.
With all the stress of our busy lives, it can be all too easy to get frustrated or impatient with traffic. You also might become angered by the careless and dangerous actions of other drivers on the road. However, when you are practicing defensive driving, you should remain fully focused on the safe operation of your vehicle despite traffic and road conditions.
What are our roads like?
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), the following data was reported for 2018 alone:
- Approximately 40,000 people died from injuries suffered in car accidents.
- The number of traffic fatalities has not declined substantially for three straight years in the United States.
- Traffic fatalities have increased by 14 percent in the past five years.
- Many accidents can be attributed to an increase in distracted and aggressive drivers.
- Every 7 seconds, someone in the United States suffers injuries in a crash.
According to the NSC, defensive driving is the best way to curb traffic-related accidents, injuries, and fatalities here in the United States. When you think about the millions of people who are injured in car crashes each year, it should become clear that an accident and severe injuries can happen to you. The best thing you can do to protect yourself and your family is to learn and practice good defensive driving habits.
The benefits of defensive driving
Defensive driving is beneficial for your health, safety, and finances. As noted above, the primary benefit is avoiding injuries or death in car crashes, and all of the losses that come with it. Even a relatively minor injury can result in thousands of dollars in bills for emergency room care, doctor’s visits, physical therapy, and more. More serious injuries can generate bills from hospitalization, surgery, and accommodations for long-lasting impairments. In a worst-case scenario, a fatal accident will cause devastating losses for surviving loved ones, both emotionally and financially.
In addition to injury prevention, there are other benefits of defensive driving, including the following:
- Avoiding vehicle damage: Accidents cause more than injuries, as they can result in serious damage to your vehicle. We all know that car repairs can be costly, especially body work. Damage to the frame or axle can total your vehicle, which can require you to replace the car and cause your insurance premiums to rise.
- Lower risk of traffic tickets: Part of defensive driving is always complying with all relevant traffic laws and rules. If you are in compliance with the law, you should not receive traffic citations for violations. This can save you time, money, and more.
- Keeping your insurance premiums low: If you use your defensive driving techniques to successfully avoid accidents and traffic tickets, your insurance premiums should remain low or even decrease for safe and reliable driving.
If you are an employer that has employees who drive as part of their jobs, having them learn and practice defensive driving is highly beneficial. Some of the benefits for companies that employ safe drivers include:
- Limiting liability for injuries caused by drivers.
- Reducing workers’ compensation claims and insurance costs.
- Reducing costs of corporate vehicle maintenance, repairs, or replacement.
- Maintaining a record and reputation of safety and improving brand identity.
As you can see, there are many benefits to defensive driving for both private and professional drivers. So, how do you go about perfecting your defensive driving skills?
Defensive driving tips
First, the most helpful step to take is to sign up for a defensive driving course. These courses teach the importance of defensive driving, as well as what the practice entails. The basics of defensive driving include:
- Understanding and complying with all traffic safety laws for every situation
- Preventing distractions whenever possible
- Always following other vehicles in accordance with the “three-second” rule
- Yielding to drivers who might be dangerous and giving them plenty of space
- Staying focused on the road and paying attention to the actions of other drivers, and always being prepared to react to hazardous situations
Call Blair & Ramirez LLP today for a free case evaluation with our California car accident lawyers
Everything you should know about defensive driving
To learn more about the potential that safer driving has to curb the rising cost of automobile accidents, be sure to check out this infographic our team created:
Created by Blair & Ramirez LLP
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