Chances are, you've heard the advice to "drive defensively" on at least one occasion. Driving lessons instructors will repeat it every time you're behind the wheel, and parents will send their young teenage drivers off with that cheery warning. But what does driving defensively actually mean? Are there specific things you can do to prevent accidents caused by other drivers? In short, the answer is yes.
Never Use a Cell Phone While Driving
While this may seem obvious, countless fatal accidents occur each year from distracted driving. Learners, P1 drivers, and those still in driving school are prohibited from all mobile phone use, but most states allow the use of a cradle or windshield mount to utilize GPS and calling features. No matter the convenience, it is always best to just let the texts wait or use an entirely hands-free device.
Don't Fight for the Right of Way
There are bad drivers on the road, and the best way to deal with them is not to fight or argue. It is not worth getting in an accident to leave the four-way stop a few seconds earlier, nor is it worth getting to your destination a few seconds faster by speeding down the entrance ramp to dangerously pass a slow-moving vehicle. In these situations, give them the right of way as you could be endangering your own life by doing otherwise.
Practice in Different Weather Conditions
This step should ideally be completed while still in driving school as learning to drive in high winds, rain, or snow is vital to keeping both yourself and others on the road safe. While driving instructors will take advantage of any weather to teach a lesson, if snow or ice aren't available, make sure that the first time you experience its effects on your car is with a helpful passenger (like a parent or older sibling) to guide you.
Another step that may seem obvious, but it needs reminding considering the number of drivers involved in preventable collisions because they were following too close. Pileups on interstates could be almost entirely prevented by driving behind cars at a safe distance, as could accidents at stoplights or those caused by animals running across the road. While it may seem tempting to get the car ahead of you to speed up, it is not worth risking your safety to do.
These are only a few of the many tips you can use to stay safe behind the wheel and drive defensively, but don't forget to employ them the next time you are behind the wheel.