If you think you’re a safe driver and you tend to follow the rules then it’s unlikely that you’ll cause an accident out on the road. But accidents are normally caused by other drivers who are driving aggressively or not paying attention. Defensive driving courses are designed to teach you how to avoid incidents with other drivers.
We caught up with No Yelling Driving School in Melbourne, Australia, to get advice on defensive driving.
Expect the Unexpected
Scan your mirrors, the cars around you and the road further ahead for potential hazards. This helps to anticipate problems and react to them more quickly and safely. Be prepared to let others in and allow room for others mistakes.
It’s easy to become distracted while driving. Using your phone, feeling tired, eating or even an argument with a passenger can cause a fatal moment of distraction. If you aren’t able to drive with 100% attention, whatever the reason, pull over until you’re able to do so again.
It also helps if you can plan your route. Be aware of when and where you need to turn or change lanes. If you’re able to indicate in advance then it’s easier for other road users to read your behaviour and adapt accordingly.
Keep a safe distance
Leaving a two-second gap between yourself and the car ahead of you is extremely important. This is called a safe stopping distance. To do this, first: pick a stationary object on the side of the road. And then, as the car ahead of you passes the object, count: a thousand and one, a thousand and two. If the car ahead of you breaks suddenly, you should now be able to break too without causing an accident. When stopping at traffic lights, stop so that you can still see the rear tyres of the car ahead of you in contact with the road.
Not all roads and conditions are the same. It’s important that you’re able to assess and adapt to the conditions of the road you’re travelling on as well as the weather conditions of the day (or night). In wet, unsealed or slippery surfaces it will take much longer for your vehicle to come to a complete stop. Drive a little slower and if there’s a car in front of you, increase your gap from two to four seconds to allow for your decreased breaking capacity.
Whether you’re new or old to driving, lots of driving schools offer defensive driver training courses. These tips and this type of training you can apply to any vehicle on any road, anywhere.