Defensive driving isn’t just a class – it’s a lifestyle.
And no matter how well you think you drive, it never hurts to brush up on safe driving skills, said Patrick Sullivan, director of insurance for AAA Northeast.
“Even if you’re an experienced driver, it’s good to go back to the basics and review simple techniques that can make roads safer for everyone,” Sullivan said.
These 10 defensive driving habits can help you avoid crashes and keep your insurance costs low.
1. Cut out distractions.
During his 29 years in insurance, Sullivan has seen all sorts of distractions cause car crashes. But with the technology available today, distractions are more prevalent and dangerous than ever. Focus on the road – not your cellphone – when you’re driving. Avoid doing anything that will cause you to take your eyes o the road.
2. Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Never fixate on one thing while driving. Scan 20-30 seconds ahead to prepare for what’s coming and quicken your reaction to traffic and road conditions.
3. Keep Your Distance
To stop effectively, you shouldn’t follow too closely. Stay three to four seconds behind the car ahead of you – and five to six seconds or more in bad weather.
4. Don’t overestimate other drivers.
Expect the unexpected and move away from erratic drivers.
5. Be alert.
AAA studies show drowsy driving is a factor in nearly 10 percent of crashes. Avoid driving tired and at night when possible. If you feel like you’re too sleepy to drive – especially on a long journey – pull over to a safe location for a quick, 20- to 30-minute nap.
6. Exercise caution.
Use extra caution at spots where you commonly brake, like before curves and at crosswalks and bus stops.
7. See and be seen.
Having your headlights on day or night can make you more visible.
8. Drive sober.
Never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
9. Resist peer pressure.
Don’t drive above the speed limit because others are, and drive at a comfortable speed when the weather is bad. Also avoid road rage – take a deep breath.
10. Don’t get too comfortable.
Most car crashes happen close to home, presumably because drivers aren’t fully focused. Take driving seriously every time you get behind the wheel.
Read more tips on effective defensive driving. AAA.com/DefensiveDriving