What does it mean to drive defensively?

Any time you get behind the wheel, it is important to use defensive driving tactics to decrease the risk of a crash. You have likely heard this before in the media and even in some of our previous blog posts.

Tennessee drivers can guess what it means to be defensive behind the wheel, but it is still critical to know exactly what it means to be a defensive driver – and how it can help you.

To drive defensively, you must:

1. Be prepared

Defensive driving strategies actually begin before you get behind the wheel. Evaluate three factors before driving, including:

  • Your vehicle: Drivers should regularly check their vehicle to verify it is in good working condition, including tire tread and tire pressure.
  • Yourself: Take time to make sure you are ready to drive mentally and physically – for example, making sure you are not drowsy before driving.
  • The road: Most importantly, it is always important to check the weather conditions you will be driving in, so you can be prepared.

2. Be alert

When you do take to the road, you must take measures to keep all of your focus on driving. Eliminate any potential distractions, such as storing your cellphone out of sight and out of reach.

As we have discussed before, staying alert also means drivers concentrate entirely on driving by:

  • Keeping both hands on the wheel
  • Scanning the road and their mirrors
  • Avoiding cognitive distractions

Driving defensively usually means driving actively, so you are always aware of your surroundings.

3. Be on your guard

As the term suggests, the primary element of defensive driving is always being on the defense. How can drivers do this?

First, you must make sure you are driving safely and following the rules of the road. You should also be prepared and alert.

For example, when the light turns green for you, look around and make sure another driver isn’t attempting to beat the red light from their direction. In urban areas, make sure pedestrians are not ignoring cross-walk signs telling them not to walk.

Second, never assume that other drivers will be as cautious as you. When you take these steps, you can ready yourself to face any hazards on the road – and help to ensure you can react to them effectively and safely.

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