Distracted and aggressive driving practices constitute a major source of traffic incidents. Rather than focus on what constitues bad driving, we offer below a few tips designed to help ensure safety and to get everyone moving smoothly. These and related practices are jointly termed defensive driving.
Defensive driving is "driving to save lives, time, and money, in spite of the conditions around you and the actions of others" (Safe Practices for Motor Vehicle Operations, ANSI/ASSE Z15.1).
Defensive driving courses are available both online and in classroom, and are also called traffic school, point reduction, or driver improvement. So what are some of the actions and habits that make a good defensive driver?
One is to bear in mind that driving is a responsibility. Of course, it is a privilege and convenience as well, but the power of your vehicle and its potential impact on others mean that the way you drive may end or help save lives, making it quite a serious matter.
To drive defensively is to make focus, alertness and awareness central to your driving. Think ahead and prepare well – plan your trip, know your route, allow plenty of time to get there, allow for any delays, and get information on alternative routes before you set off.
Do not drive if there is a possibility that your judgment or reactions might be impaired. Accept that traffic, even on the most routine of routes, is unpredictable and ever-changing, so make sure you are always present. Many colliions happen on short, routine trips we make in our neighbourhood – don’t let familiarity lull you into a false sense of security.
Pay attention, minimize distractions, and prevent fatigue. If this is not possible, take a break. If you are paying attention and are alert, you can react more quickly, and can anticipate others’ behavior in traffic.
People will always make mistakes. We all occasionally do things while driving that aren’t quite right, so anticipate that others will act in unexpected ways. Leave yourself space and time to react by ensuring a safe speed and distance between you and possible mistakes. Anticipating unintentional mistakes may also relieve some of the stress of driving, as it may make you more likely to ascribe this unwanted behaviour to error than let frustration or anger get the better of you.
Finally, do not drive angry or upset. If you notice you are reacting with frustration, take a few deep breaths, try to relax, or pull over when it is safe to do so and take a break.
An excellent resource to help refresh your memory on good driving practices is the California Driver Handbook (available here: http://apps.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/hdbk/driver_handbook_toc.htm ). Or you could take our easy and straightforward traffic school in just a few short hours.
Referred to this by a friend - thanks for the funny, random comments inserted in between the text. and for the colloquial tone. easy to follow along as opposed to dry stats and figures.
- Julie S