riving to save lives, time, and money, in spite of the conditions around you and the actions of others National Safety Council & Safe Practices for Motor Vehicle Operations Defensive Driving involves training that goes beyond mastery of road rules and the basics of driving. It uses specific driving techniques which aim to reduce driving risk by anticipating dangerous situations, adverse conditions and the mistakes of others. Unfortunately not everyone drives well – there are aggressive drivers, inattentive drivers, those who follow too closely, wander into other lanes, make sudden turns without signalling and those who blatantly break the road rules. Aggressive drivers are well known for causing a high percentage of traffic crashes, however distracted drivers are becoming as much of a problem – talking on the phone, sending text messages, checking the GPS, eating and even watching TV or DVDs while driving. While you can’t control what other drivers do, you can update your defensive driving skills so you avoid the dangers caused by other people driving badly. Defensive driving teaches you to be aware of your surroundings in addition to being a responsible driver. You have a lot to think about while driving. Don’t let driving become something you do without thinking. There are many things to be aware of while driving: road conditions, traffic laws and signs, your speed and position, cars around you, checking your mirrors … and this is just the start. You need to stay focused on driving … and only driving It is easy to get distracted while driving – talking on the phone or to passengers, eating, adjusting your stereo. Being distracted makes you less able to see potential problems and react to them properly. It’s not just new drivers who are easily distracted. People who have been driving for a while can get overconfident in their ability or become complacent about the dangers of driving. All drivers need to remind themselves to concentrate while driving. Concentrating requires being alert so you can react quickly and appropriately to potential or sudden problems. Being sleepy, affected by alcohol or drugs (including prescription and over the counter medication) will all affect your reaction time and judgement. Research shows that driving after a long period without sleep has the same effect as driving while drunk. Always rest before tackling a long road trip. Being focused also means being aware of other road users and what they may suddenly do. Being observant will help you anticipate what other drivers might do. This can help you prepare a backup plan so you can make appropriate adjustments that help reduce your risk of an accident, injury, or worse. So how do you reduce your risk while driving? Safety first Stay focused, don’t be aggressive, always lock your doors and wear your seatbelt. Before you drive, always check to ensure all controls are working properly. Pay attention Be aware of your surroundings, check your mirrors, watch for cyclists and pedestrians. Don’t depend on others Be considerate of others but lookout for yourself, assume other drivers will do something wrong and plan how you will react, anticipate the worst case scenario. Have a backup plan Avoid potential dangers by being in the best position to be seen and to see what’s around you. Always have a place to move to if your planned path is suddenly blocked. Two second rule Establish and maintain a safe following distance. This gives you time to brake if needed. This only works in normal traffic conditions under good weather conditions. Adjust appropriately for rain, fog, night conditions or large vehicles. Drop five – reduce your speed Posted speed limits apply to ideal conditions. Make sure your speed matches the conditions. Higher speeds give you less time to react and make controlling your vehicle more difficult One problem at a time Avoid dealing with too many risks at the same time. When faced with multiple risks, try to manage them one at a time. Remove distractions Driving deserves your full attention – stay focused on driving. You are welcome to contact Defensive Driving School with any questions or to learn these techniques from experts You have one life and it is valuable – ensure you get home safely every day
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