Stay alert: As easy as it is to do, you should never switch to auto pilot while driving. That’s a surefire way to slow your response time and decrease awareness. Keep your attention focused on the road ahead and the vehicles around you so your brain can analyze and prepare for any dangerous situations. This also means that driving drowsy is a big no-no. Studies have shown that sleepy drivers are twice as likely to cause an accident than non-drowsy ones.
Adapt your driving to weather conditions: Use proper judgment during bad weather. If your vision is limited by fog, you’ll need extra time to perform emergency maneuvers. When the ground is wet, your tires will take longer to bring you to a stop. Make sure you have more room than usual between you and the car in front.
Avoid Distractions: Eating, using your phone, and spending too much time checking in on children in the back seat are all distractions that make you lose focus on the road ahead. It may feel like you’re losing time if you have to stop to grab lunch, make a call, or sort out your squabbling kids in the back, but it’ll mean that you’ll be a safer driver when you get back on the road.
Create a buffer zone: Leaving space between you and the car ahead allows time for braking should the situation demand it. The general rule of thumb is a car length for every 10 miles an hour. Going 60? Try to keep six car lengths distance between you and the vehicle in front.
Keep your hands on the wheel: It’s easy, especially when driving along boring stretches of road or in stop-and-go traffic, to forget that your hands should be on the steering wheel at all times. How else are you going to avoid potential collisions.
Communicate with others: Using your turn signals or hand signals is an easy way to tell other drivers what move you’re planning to make. You can create a dangerous situation by maneuvering your vehicle unexpectedly, so tap your indicators well before you intend on turning or changing lanes – it’s not just safe, it’s good manners too.
Don’t depend on other drivers to do the same: A good defensive driver knows that other drivers can be unpredictable. Watch for erratic driving from the people around you and avoid any vehicle that drifts across lanes, doesn’t signal, or has difficulty maintaining a steady speed.