Do you know the ins and outs of defensive driving? Having an understanding of it could help you more than you might think.
According to Brake, an average of five people die every day on the road in the UK, with 82 being seriously injured. This is a ten-year average taken between 2013 and 2022. Defensive driving can be crucial in helping you to adopt healthy driving habits.
Here’s what you need to know.
What is defensive driving?
Defensive driving refers to the anticipation of hazards and driving in a way that reflects this. Think of it as a preventative approach, where you frequently check your surroundings and avoid road rage-related habits. You need to be diligent when it comes to poor weather conditions and also be aware of other drivers and their driving.
Maintaining Focus and Awareness
Staying focused while driving is essential, as accidents can happen when you least expect it. Driving when tired is extremely dangerous so you should always break up long journeys and try to get enough sleep before driving.
Avoid electronic distractions by utilising ‘do not disturb’ functions on your phone and refrain from multitasking in general, such as eating. Having your route planned out beforehand will also help your journey run more seamlessly too.
Anticipating and Reacting to Hazards
Defensive driving means you need to be aware of potential hazards at all times. This means scanning the road, checking your mirrors and adjusting your driving depending on what crops up.
You might be approaching a pothole, in which case you should check whether the road is clear before you approach it. This way, you can limit damage to your car without pulling out in front of a car unexpectedly.
Safe Following Distances
Tailgating is a very dangerous driving habit. While it may be frustrating if someone is driving slowly, tailgating is only going to add pressure and increase the likelihood of an accident.
The distance you should leave will depend on the conditions. Generally, you should leave around one metre for every one mile per hour of your speed on dry roads. This means if you were driving at 30mph, you would be 20 metres away from the car in front, which covers the overall stopping distance in The Highway Code.
Handling Adverse Weather Conditions
Poor weather can lead to more dangerous driving conditions. That’s why it’s important to adapt your driving if there is rain, snow or fog.
First and foremost, you should make sure you can see as clearly as possible before you set off, which means de-icing your vehicles and clearing any condensation. For this reason, it can be helpful to add extra time before you set off so that you aren’t rushing.
You should also slow down as road surfaces tend to be slippy and unsafe. Accelerate slowly using low revs when setting off and leave a larger gap between you and the vehicle in front. The RAC has detailed guidance on how to drive in snow.
Avoiding Road Rage and Aggressive Driving
Aggressive driving is a very dangerous habit. It can lead you to make more impulsive decisions and lose respect for others on the road. However, you can learn how to manage this with dedicated strategies that will help you stay calm out on the road.
Use your horn only when you need to alert your presence to others and embrace more polite driving habits to prompt others to do the same. Avoid tailgating, speeding and weaving. On the flip side, if you spot someone who is driving dangerously, you can report them to the DVLA.
What to Do If You Have a Car Accident
If you’re involved in a car accident and assuming you are in a fit state to do so, there are some things you can do to assess the situation and prompt the correct action.
Straight away, you should stop the car and put your hazard lights on. Check to see whether you and your passengers are ok and call 999 if anyone needs medical attention. Then, you can exchange details with those involved by taking their names, contact details and insurance information.
Be sure to note down details about the scene of the accident, such as the weather, as well as the time and date. If possible, take photos of the damage caused. Finally, you may need to file a police report.
With all this information to hand, let your insurance company know what has happened. If you feel you may be eligible for compensation, you should call a personal injury advisor as soon as possible to let them know what has happened.
Utilising Safety Technologies
Fortunately, cars are being designed with more safety features than ever before.
Key examples include ABS, seat belts, airbags and crumple zones to help limit the impact of a collision. More modern vehicles are kitted out with features such as adaptive cruise control, rear-view cameras, autonomous emergency braking, voice-activated control and more.