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Defensive Driving

The Collision Prevention Formula

 Recognize the hazards
Continuously scan the road behind and ahead of you. Check your mirror every three to five seconds.

 Understand the defense
Continuously scan the road for possible hazards. Play the "what if" game by thinking:
 "What if" the driver in front of me stops suddenly?
 "What if" someone runs a red light at the next intersection?
 "What if" that driver in the oncoming lane suddenly ... ?
 Act correctly in time
Think ahead, and try to anticipate what other drivers around you might do. Avoid hazardous or dangerous situations before it's too late.

Help avoid collisions through proper vehicle maintenance. From clean windows to properly-adjusted mirrors to regular engine servicing and much more, you can be held responsible for the little and big defects in your car.

Know, Show, Slow, Go

 Know the rules for intersections and know which way you plan on going before you arrive at the intersection.

 Show your intentions with signals and proper lane positioning before entering it.

 Slow down as you approach the intersection, and place your foot over the brake.

 Proceed through the intersection after you're sure the coast is clear. Don't assume other drivers know what to do at the intersection or that they will follow the rules.

The weight of your car is the major determining factor in how long it takes you to stop it. The heavier the car, the longer it takes to stop.

On average, at 65 mph it will take the length of a football field to completely stop your car. Antilock Braking Systems (ABS) only help prevent stopping in a swerving skid. ABS do not guarantee shorter stopping distances.

The Two Second Rule
Watch the vehicle ahead of you pass a fixed object or point, like a pole or mile marker. Begin counting: "One thousand and one, one thousand and two." If your car reaches that marker before you finish counting, you're following too closely. Ease up, and check again.

The Two Second Plus Rule
In adverse conditions, use The Two Second Plus Rule. Add one second of following distance for each adverse condition. Adverse conditions include:

 Driving at night, in fog, rain or snow.

 Driving behind a truck or vehicle making it difficult for you to see ahead. If you can't see a truck driver in the truck's side mirror, then that driver can't see you or your car. You're in the vehicle's blind spot and should pull out of it as soon as it is possible and safe.

 Driving behind a motorcycle.

 Driving through an intersection.

Practice the 4 Rs
Head-on collisions are the most violent type of auto accident. Practice the 4 Rs:

 Read the road ahead.

 Reduce your speed.

 Drive to the Right.

 Ride off the road if necessary.

A driver who's coming head-on toward you in your lane may suddenly wake-up and realize they've crossed into your lane and then correct their error by heading to your left, or back into their proper lane.

So, drive to the right and off the road if necessary. Don't swerve left.

This information highlights examples of safety precautions you can consider to protect yourself, your family, and your property. This list is not meant to be all-encompassing. Moreover, a particular precaution may not be effective or appropriate in all circumstances. We encourage you to use your own good judgement about what's appropriate.

This article includes copyrighted material used by permission from the National Safety Council's Defensive Driving Course and annual publication Accident Facts.


Related links:
  Auto Safety
  Drunk Drivers
  In Case of an Accident
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