Defensive Driving 101 – How to Avoid the Potholes
A car that brakes suddenly in front of you, a child or animal crossing the road, drunk drivers – or just a good old fashioned pothole – can cause damage to your vehicle and even result in injury or worse.
The good news is, you can potentially avoid these problems and reduce your accident risk by driving defensively – here’s how.
Defensive driving means thinking for everyone else
You may be the best driver out there, always following the speed limit and obeying the rules of the road, but other drivers aren’t always that careful.
- Unfortunately, South Africa’s roads have a reputation for accidents, with unlicensed drivers, drinking and driving, and recklessness taking place every day.
- As a defensive driver, you’ll need to watch the road all the time and be constantly alert for dangerous drivers.
Defensive driving starts with your attitude behind the wheel. Instead of being a passive driver who runs into trouble on the road, you’ll need to be observant, alert and ready to take action in order to protect your vehicles, your passengers and yourself.
Keep your eyes peeled
When you’re driving, make sure you hold your steering wheel firmly with both hands, in the 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock position. This will give you full control over your vehicle and allow you to respond quicker.
You’ll also need to check your mirrors constantly and look out for drivers who are speeding, swerving or driving irresponsibly. If you can’t accelerate away from them safely, let them pass you. The more distance between you and a dangerous driver, the better.
Don’t tailgate the car ahead of you
Speaking of distance, you should always keep a safe following distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you by using the two second rule:
- Choose an object next to the road, like a tree or road sign
- When the vehicle in front of you passes it, start counting in seconds
- By the time you pass the same object, at least two seconds should have passed
If you’re less than two seconds behind another vehicle, you’re too close to brake in an emergency. Try lowering your speed and create a safe following distance – remember, distance means safety.
Always look ahead
While you’re keeping an eye on other vehicles, don’t forget to look ahead of you. Always be on the lookout for robots that are out of order, potholes in the road, pedestrians (or jaywalkers) and unusual substances like oil, rocks or other debris that could make the road dangerous to drive on.
Most accidents and car insurance claims are caused by things that happen so suddenly that we don’t have a chance to react. The more alert you are the fewer surprises you’ll have when you’re driving.
If you find yourself in dangerous road situations quite often, especially if you drive a lot as part of your job or use the roads at night, you may want to invest in an advanced driving course. You’ll learn special techniques that will let you take evasive action and avoid accidents when the unexpected happens.
By driving defensively, you’ll be driving safely – and safe drivers, especially those who have done an advanced driving course, have fewer accidents and pay lower car insurance premiums on average. Check with your car insurance provider today that you are paying the best possible rates according to your driving skills and age.
By following the easy tips in this article, we hope you’ll stay safe on the road and prevent accidents for years to come.