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A defensive driver is a safe driver; following basic defensive driving techniques helps keep any driver, his/her passengers, and the other cards on the road safe. While not every collision can be prevented, the road becomes a safer place whenever a driver chooses to follow these tips for driving defensively.

The basic rules to follow as a good driver are to be alert and patient, and to never trust that every other car on the road will be driven safely and defensively. Taking proactive measures to avoid a crash is the best way to drive. Here are some tips on how to be a defensive driver.

Defensive Driving: What To Do

The most important thing to do as a defensive driver is to pay attention to the road, the other cars, and any other obstacles on or near the road. Here are some more tips for the defensive driving “To Do” list.

  • Wear a seatbelt.
  • Look to the left, center, and right approaching an intersection. Do the scan with enough time to react if another car isn’t being driven safely.
  • Follow cars at a two-second distance. If it’s raining, snowing, or visibility is otherwise poor, follow back even further.
  • Always do right and left shoulder checks. Before changing lanes or turning a corner, check the side mirrors and over the shoulder.
  • When unsure who has the right-of-way, yield it. It’s better to allow another driver to go first, even if he/she doesn’t legally have the right of way, than to have two confused drivers choose to go at the same time, risking a collision.
  • Use the turn signals in advance of a turn, rather than just during the turn.
  • Slow down when road conditions are less than ideal, especially in the snow.
  • Stop one car-length behind another car or the stop line at intersections. A driver should be able to pull ahead if the car behind isn’t stopping, or pull out from behind if the car ahead stalls.

Defensive Driving: What Not To Do

  • Don’t drive drunk.
  • Don’t drive while texting or talking on a cell phone.
  • Don’t drive in another driver’s blind spot. A driver in the left lane should be able to see the face of the driver in the right lane in the side mirror. If not, pull ahead or drop back.
  • Don’t speed. The time saved is always minimal, and the risks aren’t worth it.
  • Don’t run red lights or stop signs. Come to a full stop and scan the surrounding area.

All of these defensive driving tips help keep the roads safer. It’s also important for drivers to keep their cars in good running order to prevent any automotive trouble that could lead to a collision or other accident. It’s also important for drivers to recognize their abilities, and to take a refresher driving lesson if they feel a little rusty on the rules of the road.