driving over the golden gate bridge in sunset

When you get behind the wheel of your car and hit the road, you never know what kinds of other drivers are on the road with you. There are many under-prepared, aggressive, and overall just dangerous drivers who put you and others at risk—but, are you one of these drivers?

Most people consider themselves to be good drivers, and we often blame the drivers around us for being a menace and a danger to everyone else. However, more often than not, our own driving decisions put us into dangerous situations.

Many drivers only focus on where they need to go and how fast they can get there. The problem is that this type of thinking usually leads to aggressive and careless driving. The “me first” attitude can cause us to make selfish decisions that are often quite dangerous.

If you don’t want to be one of those “terrible drivers,” or if you want to improve your driving skills, we’re here to help. Keep reading to learn all about defensive driving and how it can help keep you and other drivers safe.

Eyes on the Road – All of the Road

One of the biggest and most important parts of defensive driving is being aware of what’s around you. Instead of only paying attention to what’s directly ahead of you, you need to be fully conscious of what’s going on around you.

Part of being a defensive driver is not only looking directly ahead, but looking at what’s going on the distance, beside you, and behind you. A rule commonly taught in defensive driving school is the 12-second search. By using the 12-second search, you’ll have a good idea of what’s going on around you. This gives you a wider field of vision to ensure that you can safely change lanes or merge into traffic.

Being aware of what’s going on around you also gives you time to anticipate the worst possible outcomes and to properly react and respond.

Maintain a Safe Distance

Riding too close to the car in front of you is an accident waiting to happen. What if that car randomly slammed on its brakes and came to a sudden stop? If you’re following too closely behind, you have very little time or space to stop your car, which means you may rear-end the car in front of you or get into an accident trying to avoid hitting them.

Tailgating the driver in front of you is likely to either stress them out or infuriate them. Someone who is nervous or mad is more likely to make a rash and unsafe decision that could impact you—literally! That driver is also more focused on how close you are to their car, which impacts their ability to be aware of what’s going on in front and around them.

With defensive driving vs aggressive driving, a defensive driver knows the importance of space, while an aggressive driver is simply trying to get where they need to go as quickly as possible.

What would happen if the car in front of you skidded out of control or came to a sudden stop?

If you’re following too closely behind them, you’ll likely collide with them or get into a crash trying to avoid them. More than that, tailgating the driver in front of you is likely to stress them out and get them worrying about the jerk behind them instead of paying attention to what’s ahead of them. Whenever possible, always keep a proper amount of distance (a two-second following distance in normal driving conditions) between you and the driver in front of you.

Be Mindful of Other Drivers

Most of us hit the road and we’re already chasing the clock, which means we drive faster and more aggressively than we might normally. What’s important to remember when you get behind the wheel of a car is that highways and roads aren’t racetracks. You aren’t on the road to beat everyone else or to go as fast as you can.

When driving, you must always be mindful of other drivers. Cutting someone off, blowing through a stop sign, or running a red light doesn’t save you much time—maybe a few seconds. Instead, these actions only increase the risk of causing an accident—one that could result in serious injury and even death.

Remember that you aren’t the only driver on the road. You want to treat other drivers how you would want them to treat you. When you’re mindful and care about other drivers, you’ll find that driving is much less stressful and may even be enjoyable!

woman driving at night

Online Defensive Driving School

No matter if you’ve been driving for 2 years or 20, all drivers can benefit from defensive driving school. At Ticket School, we offer a fully online driving course that will teach you the ins and outs of defensive driving, awareness, and mindfulness when behind the wheel.

So, if you’re wondering “What is defensive driving?” or “How far away should I be from the car in front of me?” you’ll learn these answers and much more by taking our online defensive driving course.

To learn more about our defensive driving school or to enroll in our online defensive driving Texas classroom, contact our team at (800) 558-9887.