By Lea Wojciechowski Ross, Blogger for Dotten Collision ~ April 26, 2017
I once heard that police officers are the best drivers not so much because they know how to drive well, but primarily because they are so trained to look out for the mistakes of every other driver on the road. Once police officers see the errors of other drivers, they can a) give out tickets, and b) avoid being the sorry victim of someone else’s mistake (i.e., prevent an accident by driving defensively).
Defensive drivers use safe driving strategies so that they can predict and respond to potential hazards on the road (SafeMotorist.com, 2017). Defensive drivers anticipate dangerous situations and thus are more likely to avoid getting into an accident.
Image credit: Google Images
Defensive driving courses teach drivers:
- To exercise caution and good judgement while driving in order to reduce the risk of an accident
- How to overcome negative psychological factors (unneeded stress, fatigue, emotional distress, and road rage)
- How to develop a positive attitude behind the wheel
- How to increase focus on the driving task
- The consequences of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- The dynamics of a crash (both the first collision – the cars themselves – and the second collision – the driver/passengers with the windshield or other objects in the car) and how the forces of impact can be avoided or limited
- How to properly use and maintain seat belts, air bags, child safety seats, and head rests
The best driving strategy is doing whatever it takes to avoid crashes – meaning to recognize potential hazards before it’s too late (SafeMotorist.com, 2017). When drivers truly understand crash prevention techniques, they will:
- Continuously scan the roadway to stay aware of and adapt to their surroundings
- Keep a large enough following distance
- Know their vehicle’s stopping distance
- Be aware of their own reaction distance
- Adapt to environment/weather hazards
- Safely deal with vehicle emergencies
- Safely share the road with other drivers
- Safely merge into other lanes
- Safely pass other vehicles
- Understand right of way and other traffic laws
- Adjust speed as needed
- Safely confront railroad crossings and other unique circumstances
What mistakes do drivers most commonly make? If we know the mistakes, we can avoid making them, and we can watch out for other drivers making them so that we can steer clear of a potential accident.
According to William E. Van Tassel, Manager of Driver Training Programs for AAA (Most Common Driving Mistakes to Avoid, 2013), the top five mistakes to avoid on your next drive are as follows:
- Failure to look far enough ahead: If you look further ahead (instead of just at the car directly in front of you), you will respond more quickly when confronted with something unexpected.
- Failure to maintain a space cushion around your vehicle: More space means more room to avoid any contact (i.e., an accident!) with another vehicle, an object, or a pedestrian.
- Failure to adjust to conditions: Traffic, visibility, and traction on the road affect how fast you can safely travel. On wet roads, tire traction drops by about 30% – that means you should reduce your speed by about 30% just to maintain normal traction to keep you safe.
- Failure to remain focused on driving: The radio, your phone, GPS, maps or written directions, food in hand, etc. can cause distraction. About 25% of vehicle collisions involve inattentive driving. Whenever your eyes are off the road, you put yourself at risk because you are unable to respond as quickly to any unexpected occurrence around your vehicle.
- Failure to anticipate maneuvers other drivers might make: Always assume that other drivers will make the mistakes that put YOU at risk. Predict what other drivers might do so you can plan how you would respond in each case. Be a defensive driver!
Safe and happy driving!
Image credit: Google Images