Defensive Driving

6 Defensive Driving Strategies You Have to Know


Defensive driving can help prevent accidents and keep you safe on the road. By being alert and employing some key strategies, you can be a more aware and responsible driver. Here are five essential defensive driving techniques every driver needs to know:

Look Ahead

Looking ahead is one of the most fundamental defensive driving techniques. Scan the road 10-15 seconds ahead so you can identify risks early and have more time to react. Look for potential hazards like merging lanes, crossing animals, and slowing or stopping traffic. Keep your eyes moving to different spots on the roadway so you have full visibility of what’s happening ahead of you.

Create a Space Cushion

Leave plenty of space between your vehicle and the vehicles around you. This gives you room to brake gradually or steer around an obstacle if needed. Experts recommend at least 3 seconds of following distance from the car in front of you. Make sure to expand your space cushion during inclement weather or low visibility conditions. Advanced driver assistance technologies like Mobileye, which is integrated into many new car models, can help warn drivers when they are tailgating.

Cover the Brake

Keep your foot positioned over the brake pedal so you can react quickly if you need to slow down. Covering the brake reduces your reaction time versus lifting your foot from the gas pedal and moving it to the brake. This subtle change in foot position gives you an extra margin of safety if you need to brake suddenly.

Scan All Around

Be aware of your entire surroundings when driving. Look in your rearview mirror every 5-8 seconds so you know what vehicles are near you. Check your side mirrors frequently for cars in your blind spots, especially before changing lanes. Glance to the front, sides, and rear to avoid being surprised by changing conditions around you. Advanced surround view camera systems available in many new vehicles can further aid visibility.

Stay Focused

Minimize distractions in order to concentrate fully on driving. Avoid cell phone use, eating, and involved conversations while behind the wheel. Also, be aware of hazardous external distractions like billboards, accident scenes, or unusual events that could divert your eyes and attention from the road. Defensive driving requires your full focus at all times. Driver monitoring features found in some newer vehicles can now detect and alert drivers who become drowsy or stop paying attention.

Control Your Speed

While observing speed limits, also adjust your speed according to traffic and road conditions. Slow down well in advance of stopped vehicles, congestion, or dangerous areas like curves. Match your speed to the flow of traffic and be ready to reduce speed if needed for safety. Advanced adaptive cruise control, now available in many vehicles, can automatically adjust speed to maintain a preset following distance.

Employing defensive driving techniques takes practice but can go a long way in helping you avoid accidents. Stay centered in your lane, obey speed limits, and drive sober and distraction-free as well. Defensive driving leads to responsible driving, making the roads safer for everyone. Being an alert and aware driver should be the priority every time you get behind the wheel. With focus and caution, we can all do our part to prevent collisions and create a more secure driving environ.