Understanding the importance of defensive driving.

Understanding the importance of defensive driving.

When you evaluate how people drive, there are 2 types of behavior:

  1.  Defensive Driving
  2.  Offensive Driving

If you are controlling your car through Defensive Driving, it means that you are constantly aware of your environment outside of, and inside of, the car. It means that you share the road with other drivers in a safe and respectful manner.

If you are steering your car through Offensive Driving, it means that you are very aggressive; where you are going and how fast you get there is more important than any other driver, and it generally ends up with a traffic ticket.

Now I’m not passing judgment here, believe me, I have gotten my fair share of tickets in the “name” of safe driving.  At least, “I thought I was certainly the one who was in control!”

Those who really know me are laughing right now .

Defensive driving  is extremely important because, while you can control your own actions most of the time, you cannot control or know what is happening with other drivers.   With all of today’s technology from Smart Phones, to GPS Systems, to highly developed onboard computer and stereo systems, drivers are more and more distracted from actually watching the road.

So, what is  defensive driving  all about? It is a method of  driving  in which you take every possible precaution that you can to prevent problems from happening to yourself. This method of  driving  is an excellent way to keep you and your family  or other passengers safe.

Here are some of the basic rules of  defensive driving:   

It starts by being prepared yourself. Checking such things as tire pressure and oil, gas, and water levels before leaving are important. You will want to check mirrors, seat belts and seat positions before actually moving the car. As well, make sure that you have your current insurance card, your registration and state inspection are also current. It really puts a downer on the plans for the evening if you get pulled over and get a ticket for an expired license tag or out of date state inspection.

I know this could never happen to you, but never drive when you are angry or badly depressed. Your attention is not on the road at those times. While I know that you would never display anger to another driver, do not react to road rage. Seriously, individuals who display road rage are very volatile and un-predictable, it can easily escalate into a very serious problem.

Last year, John, was leaving Marshall Motors, bound toward home. While driving north on I35, another driver in a van aggressively entered the freeway and shot across two lanes of traffic cutting right in front of John. Using a well-known hand sign, John displayed his displeasure to the driver in front of him. The only thing that this accomplished was to spike the behavior of the already road raged van driver. The next 3 miles on the highway was a series of multiple attempts by the van driver to continue to cut John off every time he tried to get away. In a final attempt to try to steer John off of the road, the van driver lost control and almost flipped the van over. He did regain control and John got off at the exit. John states, “It scared me to death at the time!”

If you drive a silver, white or black car, just be aware that the color of your car can easily blend into the color of the pavement depending upon the time of day and/or the weather. Bright colored cars are easier to see and are ones that are less likely to be in an accident.   Using your lights while driving in all conditions, no matter what color your car is, makes you more visible to other drivers.

When  driving, make sure that you use the two second rule. This is completed be being at least two seconds of  driving  time behind the driver in front of you at all times. In southern terms this is “one Mississippi, two Mississippi”. While driving, pick a marker like a street sign. The rear bumper of the car in front of you should pass the sign and a full two second count before your front bumper reaches the same sign. In bad conditions, you should increase the distance to 3 or 4 seconds.

FACT: It takes a car traveling at 55mph one half the length of a football field to come to a complete stop, semi-tractor trailer trucks and large vans take much longer.

To make sure that you can see clearly, never follow too closely behind large trucks.   Do not drive next to any truck, they cannot see you, get past them or stay far behind them. If they suddenly had to change lanes and did not know you were there, you would lose.

Avoid the blind spot of other cars by not  driving  in those spots for very long.   In fact, try to drive without anyone next to you at all times so that if you need to get off the road quickly, you can.

Avoid cars that are broken down or show signs of being damaged. Also it is a Texas State Law, that if a police officer, an ambulance, a tow truck or a roadside assistance vehicle is attending a car on the shoulder or in a blocked lane, you must pull into a lane away from the incident. If there is no lane to pull into, you must slow down to no less than 20mph below the posted speed limit when passing them.

Defensive driving  courses offer a wealth of information for people who are looking for solutions to prevent accidents or problems that come with being in an accident.  You can research on the web a wide range of these strategies as well as places to go and take  defensive driving  classes.

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