The behaviors and driving habits of others are out of your control. However, you can take proactive steps to ensure you are aware of your surroundings as a driver.
Being a defensive driver is about being aware of other drivers on the road and aware of the conditions you will be driving through. Even a few extra moments to recognize and react to oncoming danger may allow you to avoid catastrophic injury from a severe collision.
1. Check the weather
Check the weather before leaving home so you know what type of weather you may be driving into. Leave with enough time to allow for weather-related delays so that you do not feel the need to speed to arrive at your destination on time.
2. Use your mirrors
As you drive, regularly check your mirrors so that you know where other vehicles are in relation to yours. Doing so might allow you to spot a car approaching too quickly or out of control.
3. Leave space between vehicles
Allowing an appropriate amount of space between your car and vehicles in front of you will give you enough time to brake when needed. In poor weather, allow for extra space and use steady pressure when applying your brakes to avoid sliding and becoming a hazard yourself.
4. Look out for others
Check intersections and cross streets as you pass, keeping an eye out for vehicles coming at you unexpectedly. You may not be able to fully avoid the impact from an out-of-control driver, but a few extra seconds of awareness might allow you to speed up, slow down or otherwise react in a way to minimize the impact.
5. Avoid distracted driving
Remove anything from your reach that could provide a distraction before you get on the road. Keep your phone off or out of reach. Pull over and park if you find it necessary to use your phone for any reason. Eat snacks before leaving. Set your GPS coordinates ahead of time. While driving, your attention should be on the road and nowhere else.
The goal of defensive driving is to put control of your fate and your safety in your hands. Do not rely on other drivers on the road to look out for your safety.