Safe driving isn’t just a recommended practice; it’s a must for drivers who want to remain safe on busy Texas roads. Unfortunately, drivers aren’t necessarily born with an understanding of how to drive safely. Bad habits and/or improper attitudes while driving can lead people to take unnecessary risks with their life, the lives of their passengers, and the lives of their fellow citizens that they share the roads with. Following these best-practice strategies for defensive driving is the best way to minimize your risks and drive safe.
Focus on Safety First
You play with the stereo, trying to find a song, or check a text message as you’re driving. Or, someone cuts you off and you become angry and focused on teaching them a lesson, your focus is on their driving rather than your own. Maybe you’re just really tired after a long day at work, and it causes you to struggle with remembering good safe driving habits. All of these behaviors, and many others, put lives at risk—including your own.
The reality is that it’s easy to overlook safety when driving. Frustration, distraction, and stress raise the risk for aggressive or inattentive driving, which can, in turn, raise your risk of a crash. Stay aware of your surroundings and remind yourself to keep your eyes on the road and your attention on driving, rather than other tasks.
Expect Unsafe Driving from Others
You can be the best driver in the world and still find yourself in a devastating crash thanks to an impaired or inattentive driver. The rules of the road depend on other drivers heeding them when they drive, and that just doesn’t always happen. That is why taking a defensive driving course is helpful whether you have a ticket or not. It is important to learn the best skills available to most effectively prepare for the actions of others and to expect the worst while behind the wheel so that you can plan and be ready to take the appropriate action before something happens.
Asking yourself questions such as “What would I do if this driver pulls out here or doesn’t see me in their blind spot?” are great ways to focus and remember your vulnerabilities. You must also stay alert and aware of what others around you are doing at all times. It takes just a split second for another driver to make a mistake that can impact your line of travel.
Follow the Speed Limit
Don’t speed, period—even if you’re late for work or are about to miss an important meeting. Speeding greatly increases your risk of a crash and increases the severity of injuries should a crash occur, even at just 5 to 10 miles per hour above identified limits. At best, you’ll find yourself with a ticket that adds points to your driving record and paying a hefty fine. At worst, you just might end up taking someone else’s life or even losing your own.
Start by following all speed limits posted on signs, but don’t forget to adjust your speed in bad weather. Heavy rain and high winds often necessitate slower, more careful driving. Slow down to increase the following distance between you and the vehicle ahead of you to ensure you have control. If the weather is bad enough it is best to pull off the road and turn on your hazard lights to alert other drivers if necessary.
Use the Right Following Distance
When following other vehicles, it is important to keep the proper distance so that a corrective action can be taken (whether that means breaking or steering) should a situation occur. In good conditions with decent tires, at Texas’ most common speed limits, suddenly two second following distance is usually sufficient. In bad conditions, or when outside influences such as weather interfere with your ability to stop, additional spacing between vehicles is recommended.
As for traffic jams and other rush hour travel, do your best to keep at least some space between you and the vehicle ahead of you. Never “tailgate” by riding up on the rear of another vehicle. If someone is tailgating you, let them pass when it is safe to do so—it’s better to lose a few seconds by slowing down than to experience a crash.
As a driver living or operating in Texas, it is in your best interest to prepare yourself as much as possible to operate safely on the busy and sometimes hectic roadways. Taking a driver safety course helps you build on the foundation that you have now and will keep the new skills you learn at the forefront of your mind which helps you to make safer and better decisions. Take a step to improve your safe driving skills by registering for a defensive driving course online in Texas today.