Defensive driving

By | October 4, 2011

When you’re behind the wheel there are any number of things that can pose as a distraction. Taking your eyes off the road even for a minute can put you and other drivers on the road at risk. For instance, although driving a short distance home after a night out with friends or taking a moment to send a text message on the motorway might seem harmless enough, it can have very serious consequences.

While most people will acknowledge how serious drinking and driving is, there are a surprising number of drivers who take unnecessary chances when they believe they are able to drive after a few drinks. A driver with a blood-alcohol level of 0.10 or greater is seven times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident than a driver with no alcohol in their system, and one of the biggest dangers about drinking and driving is that many drivers will get behind the wheel if they don’t ‘feel’ drunk.

Instead of taking the risk, look for alternate transportation if you’re going out for the evening and want to indulge in a glass of wine. Choose a designated driver or leave your car at the restaurant overnight and take a taxi home. When you’re out on the road, particularly at night, and you see someone driving erratically, report it to police immediately and keep a safe distance when forced to share the road.

Using your mobile is another common mistake drivers make while behind the wheel. Particularly when you’re on longer drives or commuting to and from work, talking or texting might seem like a good way to pass the time or get some extra work done while you’re stuck in the car. However, driving and talking or texting splits your attention between two tasks, and if you get distracted even for a moment it could have serious consequences. So much so, that texting or calling without a hands free set-up is now illegal.

If talking on the phone is absolutely necessary, look for a hands-free headset that you can use so your hands are firmly on the wheel. If you think you might be tempted to pull out your mobile phone on the drive, keep it in a bag or jacket pocket and store this in the back seat where it’s out of reach.

Practicing safe driving methods when you’re on the road is only half the battle, and while you’re zipping around town you also need to worry about weather conditions and what the other cars around you are doing. Avoid getting into trouble by following the speed limit and keeping a safe driving distance from other vehicles.

If you’re in for a longer commute, make sure you’re feeling well-rested and relaxed so you can give the drive the attention it needs. Try to avoid any risky manoeuvres on the road simply because you’re late or feeling impatient. Instead, leave yourself lots of time to get to your destination and try and go with the flow as much as possible.

By using defensive driving tips such as keeping a safe distance and communicating with other drivers using your horn, you can help keep yourself safe on the road. Take your car to the mechanic regularly for a check-up and get car insurance. That way, you’ll be confident, comfortable and legal whenever you’re behind the wheel.