It is no secret that defensive driving saves lives. Although you can’t control other motorists’ actions, defensive driving can help you circumvent dangerous conditions and diminish your risk of an accident. Additionally, defensive driving is a skill that motorists often develop over time.
No matter your experience level, though, there are five easy techniques you should employ behind the wheel. However, if the worst happens and you fall victim to driver negligence in Alabama, contact a Birmingham injury lawyer to handle the legal aspects of your claim so that you can focus on recovery.
What Are the 5 Steps for the Strategy of Defensive Driving?
Reduce your risk behind the wheel by following these five defensive driving tips, including:
- Surveying the road far ahead of your vehicle
- Knowing how to respond to unexpected dangers
- Not assuming that another driver will act in a certain way
- Maintaining a safe following distance
- Avoiding distractions
Read on to learn five tips from a Birmingham car accident lawyer that can make you a more defensive driver.
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1. Look Ahead
Many drivers make the mistake of looking directly in front of their vehicles. It is crucial to survey the road far ahead so that you have plenty of time to avoid unexpected hazards. To be a safe driver, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) suggests:
- In an urban area: Looking ahead at least two traffic signals or two blocks
- In a suburban area: Looking at least three traffic signals or three blocks ahead
- In a rural area: Looking down the road at least a quarter of a mile
Additionally, looking ahead is particularly important if you are driving at high speed on the interstate.
2. Know How to Respond to Unexpected Dangers
If you are an inexperienced driver, you should learn to respond to precarious situations before they happen. For example, you should know what to do when you veer onto the shoulder, confront inclement weather, or break down on a highway.
Defensive driving instructors suggest glancing at your mirrors about every three to five seconds to spot dangers. Being prepared can help you respond quickly and appropriately to unexpected hazards.
3. Do Not Act on Assumptions About Other Drivers’ Intentions
According to DriversEd.com, you should never act on assumptions about other drivers’ intentions. For instance, do not expect parked cars to remain stationary, drivers to turn where they are signaling, or oncoming traffic to yield at an intersection.
The only assumption you should make is that the other driver will not abide by the road rules. If you expect other drivers to make mistakes, you will be better positioned to avoid accidents.
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4. Maintain a Safe Following Distance
Always maintain a safe following distance. This will give you enough time to act if the leading vehicle stops abruptly:
- In dry weather conditions, you should keep a minimum of three seconds of space between you and the vehicle in front of you
- On wet pavement or heavy traffic, maintain a distance of about four seconds from the car ahead of you
- In icy or snowy weather conditions, maintain a following distance of at least six to eight seconds
5. Avoid Distractions
One of the most important aspects of defensive driving is limiting your distractions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about eight U.S. citizens are killed in crashes reportedly involving a distracted driver.
Distracted driving is driving while performing another activity that takes your attention away from operating your vehicle. Distracted driving can boost the chance of a motor vehicle crash.
There are three main types of driving distractions:
- Cognitive: Thinking about something other than driving
- Visual: Looking at something other than the road
- Manual: Removing your hands from the steering wheel
Distracted driving is anything that pulls our attention from driving. Examples include:
- Adjusting the radio
Any of these distractions can jeopardize your life, your passengers’ lives, and the well-being of others on the road.
What to Do If Your Car Slides on Ice or Black Ice
Defensive driving doesn’t just involve other drivers. Alabama winters can bring a multitude of driving issues, including ice and wind. Knowing how to drive defensively when the roads ice over is an excellent idea to keep you, your loved ones, and other motorists safe.
Here are a few bonus tips on what to do if you start to slip on icy roads this winter:
- Take your foot off the accelerator. If you hit the gas, it could send you into a tailspin.
- Avoid the brakes, if possible. One of the most common driving mistakes of people on icy roads is slamming on their brakes. Braking may not only start your car sliding, but it can also exacerbate the problem. To correct your slide, you can’t lock up your wheels.
- If you start to slide, keep your eyes on the road ahead and in the direction you want your car to go. Steer your front wheels the same way the back end of your vehicle is sliding (this is the same as turning into the slide). For instance, if your car slides to the left, steer to the left.
- Try not to panic and oversteer your car. Doing this gives your vehicle angular momentum. This means it will continue rotating faster than your steering can correct, and it will spin out.
If You’re in an Alabama Car Accident, Consult With the Morris Bart Law Firm
No matter how defensively you drive or how much you limit your distractions, you may still encounter drivers or situations beyond your control. If you or a loved one is in a car accident with a negligent driver, call Morris Bart & Associates, LLC.
You may be entitled to compensation for healthcare expenses, time off work, and other losses. Contact us today by calling or completing our online form to schedule a free consultation today!
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