Defensive driving is the practice of driving to save lives, time, and money despite the conditions around you. It is a form of training for drivers that goes beyond simply memorizing the rules of the road and knowing the basic mechanics of driving. People defensively drive to reduce the risk of collision by anticipating dangerous situations.
The concept of defensive driving was first developed in the Driver Example Program by Chris Imhoff of the U.S. National Safety Council in 1964. The program created a Defensive Driving Course (DDC) that people could take through corporate sponsorship. Some U.S. states even offer incentives to complete an approved defensive driving course by offering mandated insurance discounts or a way to hide at traffic ticket from one’s driving record.
Since defensive driving requires you to anticipate dangers, you must first give yourself enough time to react. Everyone takes a different amount of time to process the same stimulus. If a driver is fully alert and aware of the possibility that braking might be necessary, he or she will have the best reaction time. Scientists estimate it will take 0.7 second to perceive a danger and depress the brake pedal. However, if you’re not anticipating a sudden stop, your reaction time slows down to about 1.25 seconds. If you’re completely caught off guard, you could even take 1.5 seconds to react, particularly if the danger is in your peripheral vision. If you anticipate an accident to happen, you will be on high alert and will be ready to respond when it happens.
Watch Your Speed
The faster you go, the less control of the vehicle you have. This means following the speed limit. These guides are in place to help you anticipate the likelihood of something suddenly walking, running, or flying out in front of your car. For example, some neighborhoods have a speed limit of 25 MPH. This area usually has a high amount of housing, meaning the people living in the houses might also have a family with kids. Small children are unpredictable and easily distracted. If one of them runs out onto the road, a lower speed limit allows you to break more suddenly and completely in response. However, if you’re travelling 40 MPH in the same area, you might not be able to stop the vehicle in time to avoid the child. Remember that every bit of speed you put on also adds momentum to your car when it suddenly stops. The faster it’s going the more momentum it will have and the harder it will be to cease moving completely. This is often why freeways have the most incidences of multiple-car pileups—high speeds at close ranges.
Follow at a Safe Distance
Ever heard of the 3-second rule? It’s a practice that has been shown to reduce the risk of collision and the severity of an accident. All drivers should be at least 3 seconds behind the car in front of it. This also translates to 1 car length for every 5 MPH you are traveling. For example, if you’re going 40 MPH, you should be about 8 cars behind the person in front of you. Another way to measure this is by waiting until the rear end of the car in front passes any distinct and fixed point on the road, such as a street sign, mailbox, or tree. This should be done without looking up for more than a second. After the car passes the given point, the front of your vehicle should pass the same point no less than 3 seconds later. If the time is less than 3 seconds, you should increase the distance between you and the car ahead.
Preparing for Other Drivers
Defensive driving includes never assuming other drivers are following the rules. While some of them might be, all it takes is one reckless individual to cause an accident. Be aware of the other drivers on the road. Is one of them speeding too quickly? Try to get out of their way, or let them go around you. Is another driver swerving? He or she might be intoxicated and dangerous to be around—keep your distance. If you can predict the moves of other drivers, or at least be prepared to respond to their actions, you will be more likely to avoid an accident.
Apart from potentially saving yourself from car accidents, as well as others, there are additional benefits to defensive driving courses. In addition to insurance discounts, you could also get reduced fines with a traffic ticket or even prevent or reinstate a suspended driver’s license in some states. However, if you have been mandated to take the course by a judge, the benefits may not apply.
If you want to learn more, see if there are any defensive driving classes near you and if your insurance company offers discounts on your premium for taking the course. Some states will allow online courses, while others will require you to take it in person.
However, if you’ve already been in a crash, you may need to talk to an experienced Carlsbad car accident attorney. If you’re having problems with an insurance claim after a car accident, Levinson Law Group can help. We put our clients first and offer a high standard of representation and care marked by more than 40 years of combined experience. Let our trusted and skilled legal team assist you with your case. Contact us at (760) 642-5475 or fill out our online form to schedule a free case consultation with us today.