If you answered no, check out these self-protective driving tips… and if you answered yes, are you doing these things? 

Approximately 1.3 million people die in car crashes each year, which averages to about 3,287 deaths per day; and millions more are injured or disabled in accidents. These statistics demonstrate a fact that all of us who drive already know—getting behind the wheel can be extremely dangerous. And unless you are taking the necessary steps to protect your safety, you could become a victim to somebody else’s poor road habits.

Being a defensive driver means that you’re not only aware of your own driving skills and following the laws, but that you’re also cognizant of others around you and use proactive behaviors to avoid collisions. Many folks believe that they’re driving defensively, but may not be doing all they can. Here are some tips on defensive driving that can help you tighten up your habits:

Don’t trust turn signals

All of us can relate to accidently leaving a turn signal on and driving around with the blinker running for a mile or even more. As a defensive driver, it’s critical to keep this in mind as many people make the same mistake. Falsely trusting a turn signal may end up costing you, big time. Never get on the road in front of another driver based on their turn signal; wait for them to make their move.

Maintain your focus

We all know how dangerous texting and driving is and hopefully you already refrain from doing this at all times. But there are other actions that can distract you from the road. Avoid activities such as putting on makeup, eating, tending to a child in the backseat, talking on the phone, checking your hair in the mirror, and holding a pet in your lap, among others.

Check your mirrors

A good way to ensure that you are aware of what’s going on ahead of you, behind you, and on the side of the road is to constantly check your mirrors and remain aware of what’s happening around you. If a driver in front of you begins to swerve, for example, you’ll be ready to move out of the way in time to avoid a crash.

Stay visible

A common cause of accidents is when one driver simply doesn’t see the other vehicle. To ensure that you’re visible to other cars on the road, observe the rules of the road regarding headlights and turn signals. Make sure you do regular checks on your brake lights to ensure that they’re working properly and keep in mind that every vehicle has blind spots. If you’re not sure if the other car or truck can see you, it’s a safe bet to assume they can’t and act accordingly.

Keep your cool

We’ve all experienced that infuriating feeling that results when someone cuts you off or speeds past you, throwing you off guard. But your response to these behaviors should always be a passive one. Never allow the poor driving of another to throw you into a rage or to attempt to reciprocate. Doing this can only increase the odds that you’ll lose control of your car or collide with another vehicle.

If you’re bothered by a tailgater, simply try tapping on your breaks a few times to signal the driver behind you that they are following too close or just slow down gradually and allow them to pass.

Observe a safe distance

Always keep a safe distance from vehicles in front of you to ensure that if they make a short stop, you won’t slam into them. Obviously, your goal is to move with the flow of traffic and maintain a safe speed and distance from other vehicles—that way you have plenty of time to handle whatever occurs in front of you and to each side. You cannot control the actions of other drivers, so staying in complete control of your own vehicle is imperative to driving defensively.

Control your lead foot

Speed kills. It’s as simple as that. The faster you go, the more likely it is that you won’t be able to control your car and react properly in the event of a risky situation. To be defensive, you need to make sure that you are following speed limits at all times, and that you are not tempted to speed because you are late or because drivers around you are going faster than they should be.

Being a defensive driver entails more than your skills on the road; it’s about being mindful of other drivers and constantly aware of what’s happening on the road around you.  Remember that you cannot count on or assume that others are going to follow traffic laws or adhere to the rules of the road.

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