According to the Saskatchewan Safety Council, a defensive driver “takes all reasonable precautions to prevent traffic incidents despite the actions of those around them.” Defensive driving is different than simply obeying the rules of the road. Here a few defensive driving tips to get you started.
This tip is covered in most driver-training courses. Basically, the two-second rule suggests drivers remain two seconds behind other vehicles. This permits adequate reaction times and has been proven to reduce accidents. To measure following distance, drivers only need to focus on a landmark and count to two starting from when the lead car passes it. Any less than two seconds simply isn’t long enough to react to unforeseen obstacles.
A “gate” is an open space into which your vehicle can move. If you’re alone in the center lane of three-lane highway, you have four open gate – left, right, front, and rear. Of course, drivers rarely have the road to themselves. Regardless, you should always try to keep two gates open. If you follow the two-second rule, you’ll already have one. Ultimately, the two-gates rule is designed to make drivers think about where they can move their vehicle to avoid a potential collision. In that regard, having more options is always better.
It’s not a good policy in social settings, but, on the road, you should assume the worst of other people. It’s not reasonable to assume every driver (and pedestrian) is following the rules and paying attention at all times. Giving them the benefit of the doubt in this way can have fatal consequences. Therefore, it’s best to assume a driver doesn’t see you in the adjacent lane, may turn without signalling, et cetera. I’m not advocating total paranoia – only that defensive drivers prepare for others to make common mistakes on the road.
While these tips are useful, it is important to remember there is no substitute for in-depth, professional training. To that end, most driving schools offer programs on the skills and habits of defensive driving. One local program, the SGI Defensive Driving Course, focuses on a number of skills. They fall under four categories:
- Knowledge of traffic laws
- Foresight to anticipate a collision with preparedness to react
- Judgment to recognize hazards while making split-second decisions
SGI’s program is a five-hour interactive course which can equip drivers for many of the dangers they face on the road. During a time in which distracted driving is pervasive, these skills are more valuable than ever.
Hopefully it’s not too late for you to make use of these tips, but if you have been in an accident, don’t panic! At Universal Collision Centre, we’re dedicated to restoring your vehicle to pre-accident condition. You can book a visit from our Mobile Estimate Centre, or book your claim online and we’ll take it from there!