Safer Driving: It's Time To Get Defensive.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Safer Driving: It’s Time To Get Defensive.

December 5, 2017 by  
Filed under Opinion, Weekly Columns

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(ThyBlackMan.comIf you were to head out onto the street in your lunch break and ask the random people that you meet if they thought that they were a safe driver, the chances are that you would receive a lot of positive responses. Most people pride themselves on their care and common sense when out and about on the roads. They’re probably right as well. Most drivers do try their hardest to keep out of accidents and look out for hazards on the highway. However, the one thing that the safest of drivers can’t account for is other people’s driving. You may be the most reliable, most risk-averse driver out on the road, but if you’re presented with a careless individual who lacks the awareness and care that you have, it can be tricky to mitigate against.

Risk is all around us and never more so than on the road. It’s vital that we take a step back and assess our driving strategy. It’s time to get defensive. This sounds negative and weak but nothing could be further from the truth. A defensive driving strategy means that your number one priority is staying clear of any potential dangers. This way, you eliminate your risk of getting into accidents or damaging your vehicle. Take a look at these ways in which you can become a safer driver.

Don’t Flash

It sounds like the simplest and most courteous of actions. You’re waiting at a traffic calming measure, and you’re willing to give way to the person in front of you. You think nothing of giving your full beams a quick burst and a flash to signal to the driver opposite that they can go. You think you’re being a patient, calm and caring driver. However, you are actually creating a risk. While you understand what your quick headlight dazzle means, the driver opposite may think that you are signalling to show that you are merely there and that they should wait. By creating a misconception, you are generating a needless potential hazard. Even the most positive of actions can create misunderstandings on the road.

Don’t flash your headlights. If you see someone else flashing their lights for you, be very careful when trying to decipher the signal. If in doubt, stay put. While you may frustrate a driver who is merely letting you pass or giving you a right of way, you will also be negating any potential risk that could lead to a collision.

Keep Your Distance

It doesn’t matter how stressful and busy our lives are, you shouldn’t be rushing when behind the wheel of your vehicle. You don’t want to be left scratching your head and wondering how accident laws work in your state simply because you got a little too close to the vehicle in front and crashed into the back of them because they braked a little too hard and you didn’t give yourself the distance needed to react.

It’s vital that you plan your journeys well in advance and give yourself plenty of buffer time to reach your destination. Should heavy traffic become apparent, you don’t want to be sat in your motor quietly seething and feeling your stress levels increasing to boiling point. As the stress-inducing chemicals get released into your bloodstream, your ability to think clearly and rationally is diminished, and you could find yourself making some reckless decisions. It doesn’t matter if you drop your kids off ten minutes late for a play date, as long as you get there safe and sound. Try to keep your head and keep your distance with other vehicles around you to prevent potential collisions.

Be Alert

The long journeys that we occasionally have to endure may seem thrilling and exciting at the start of the trip but can slowly descend into the most monotonous and boring six hours of your life. Under no circumstances should you be driving for this long non-stop. It’s vital that you take regular breaks. Even if you don’t feel particularly sleepy, after an hour and a half of driving you should be pulling over to take a ten-minute rest. This short burst of drive-free time will allow your brain to recharge, your senses to become more alert and you may even be able to pick up a coffee or some goodies for the journey. Attempting a six-hour long slog of a drive is careless and putting other road users at risk as well as yourself and your passengers.

Stick To the Speed Limit

Although people complain about the speed limits imposed on some of our roads, they are there for a reason. Stick to the law of the land and don’t allow bad habits to creep into your driving. Don’t be tempted to inject a little too much pace into your driving just because you know that there are no speed cameras present. At best, you are risking a minor collision, and at worst you are putting yourself at risk of a criminal conviction should you get caught. This could result in the loss of your licence which could have a catastrophic effect on your job, employability and criminal record. It’s not worth the risk.

If you see other drivers not heeding a defensive strategy, it’s time to double up on yours. Linger back a little further, keep one eye on their driving at all times and don’t venture into their driving space. Driving is a very solitary experience, and sadly you cannot impose your safe driving onto others. Try to maintain a sensible and defensive driving strategy to mitigate the amount of risk that you encounter. By keeping yourself safe, you can at least ensure that you react to those more reckless drivers in a way that will limit your chances of an accident or collision and help you remain the safe and skilled driver you always have been.

Staff Writer; Ryan Ford

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