The National Safety Council defines defensive driving as "driving to save lives, time, and money, in spite of the conditions around you and the actions of others." (ANSI/ASSE Z15.1)
You probably learned defensive driving techniques back in driver’s ed…but when was the last time you really practiced them? Refresh yourself on these basic practices next time you’re behind the wheel:
- Follow the three second rule. Follow at a safe distance from the car ahead of you. Find a stationary point on the road ahead. When the car in front of you passes that point, count off three seconds before you pass the same spot. Following this rule gives you time to brake and react should the car in front of you stop suddenly.
- Keep a space cushion. A space cushion refers to the space in front, behind and on either side of your vehicle. Whenever possible, leave space on all four sides of the car. Do not crowd other vehicles unnecessarily. The space cushion, also known as an escape route, allows you to swerve or change lanes quickly should an unexpected obstacle appear.
- Be alert and prepared for other drivers’ mistakes. For example, at a traffic signal, do not assume it’s safe to proceed because the light is green. People run red lights all the time. Wait a beat and check to be sure that opposing traffic has stopped before proceeding. In other situations, be prepared to yield the right-of-way to aggressive or erratic driving.
For more defensive driving, visit these helpful sites: