Shahe KoulloukianThe saying goes, its not you I’m worried about it’s the other drivers. We certainly cannot control what other drivers do. There is no question that defensive driving techniques can help reduce your risk of being involved in a collision. The key is to understand the fundamentals of defensive driving. Acknowledge potential risky situations and proactively take action before anything happens.

Once you are empowered, you are empowered forever! Let’s learn to make conscious choices while driving to help reduce risk and stay safe.

HERE ARE A FEW SKILLS TO MASTER DEFENSIVE DRIVING

Watch for red light runners

Count to three before entering an intersection on a green light. Look both ways and be sure no one is trying to speed through a yellow light. Exercise caution when passing semis. Truck drivers have a large blind spot on their right-hand side, so be especially careful when driving next to an 18-wheeler. If you cannot see the truck’s side mirrors, the truck driver cannot see you.

Keep at least one hand on the steering wheel

Reduce in-car distractions such as changing radio stations or CDs, cell phones, eating or momentarily taking a hand off the wheel. A gust of wind, pothole or a blown tire could send the vehicle into another lane and cause a serious accident. Yes, it can happen that quickly!

Be Alert and Diligent

Aggressive and unsafe habits like Speeding, tailgating, and running red lights are all part of road rage. They do not lend to defensive driving. Almost 80 percent of drivers in the U.S. have reported this type of behavior at least 2 or more times a month.

No question about it, it’s no picnic to become the target of a driver with road rage. Your best first line of defense is to avoid provoking this type of driver. Pushing their buttons will only cause them to become even more aggressive. Just slow down, change directions and give them their space.

If find yourself in a tense situation with an enraged driver, make sure to never get out of your vehicle. Stay calm, smile, wave and drive away and most importantly pay attention that they are not following you and call 911 if you feel like your in danger.

It’s All About Space

What’s your rush, make sure to give enough space between you and other vehicles. This will allow you to be in control to maneuver your vehicle if there is a sudden traffic jam or an unexpected collision ahead of you.

5-10 seconds following distance is a good rule of thumb or a full car length, whichever is more comfortable for you and more space if your are under extreme weather conditions such as rain, wind or dust storms. Be sure you can see the full rear tires of the car ahead of you when you’re slowing down and at a full stop. This way, you are rear ended unexpectedly, you wont slam into the car in front of you.

Make sure to play peek-a-boo and glance at your side view & rear view mirrors to know what is going on around you and spot cars that are swerving in and out of traffic. And of course the broken record advice of, Please stay off your phone and within the speed limit.

Look Out For the Fast and Furious Cyclists and Jay Walkers

Keeping an eye on your side and rear view mirrors will help you spot the in and out swinging motorcycles and cyclist. Make sure to focus on 4 way stops as pedestrians will jump out in traffic to cross the street.

Be super careful and drive down within school zones. It’s a good idea to make sure to actually stop at stop signs and red lights before the crosswalk, and turn around and physically look back before backing up. Friendly reminder that your backup cameras are not 100% and make sure to learn how to properly adjust your side mirrors to help with blind spots. Keeping a 3 foot distance between you and cyclists is a good habit to allow enough space to avoid any collision.

Respect the weather

The safest move is to wait out any challenging weather conditions, if you can. Heavy rain, fog, ice, wind, and other inclement weather can make it difficult to maintain control of your vehicle. Water and snow can get between your tires and the road, reducing your tires’ ability to grip the surface. If you are in that situation, the best choice is to let go of the accelerator pedal and naturally slow down while keeping in control of your steering.

Make sure to inspect your wiper blades and tires before driving out during bad weather. If you’re driving in snow or ice, be aware that your vehicle’s sensors may need to be cleared off periodically, and that these conditions may reduce effectiveness.

Always signal

Please make sure to signal and signal way ahead it’s a defensive driving must! Remember, it’s legally required to signal, yet one in four drivers don’t use their indicator when turning, and half fail to signal when changing lanes. Signaling is sharing your intentions with other drivers and keeps you from getting into a collision that is otherwise avoidable. Be extra cautious and add in hand signals to even better communicate with other drivers that are too busy googling!

YOUR EMOTIONS ARE THE MOST INTENSE ASPECT OF YOUR LIFE. INTELLECT COMES SECOND TO YOUR EMOTION. WHEN YOU GET ANGRY, FEARFUL OR FRUSTRATED, YOUR INTELLECTUAL WELL BEING IS THROWN OUT THE WINDOW