Getting into your car to head home may seem extremely banal and routine, but driving is anything but.
Drivers, some of whom are over-eager to get home, may disregard road safety rules in favour of higher speeds.
Even though you adhere to road regulations, other drivers may not.
This is where defensive driving comes in: to keep you out of trouble by keeping your sensory apparatus active.
We can’t always assume that other drivers will follow road rules – it pays to be prepared whenever you step into a vehicle.
Defensive driving means exerting greater control over your vehicle on the road, even if others don’t.
Keeping your wits about you could help you stave off a potentially ruinous drive.
Here are some tips to keep you safe on the road:
- Stay alert. The most obvious tip, but one often neglected. It pays to be alert to traffic conditions, especially if you commute home during peak hour. That way you can take defensive action if necessary.
- Always buckle up, even if you’re a rear-seat passenger. Always wear your seat belt even if you’re a rear passenger. The risk of injury, should you be involved in a rear-end collision, is very high should you not buckle up. A seatbelt is reported to reduce the risk of injury in a crash by 50 percent, so always wear your seatbelt.
- If in doubt, yield. If you aren’t sure who has the right of way, yield to the oncoming or side traffic. It’s not a matter of loss-of-face: a little time wasted is well-spent if that means avoiding a potential accident.
- Slow down at a traffic light. Drivers usually forget this piece of driving-school advice. Slow down if the lights have been green for a while: that gives you time to react and come to a stop if necessary. Never try to beat the amber light.
- Check your headlights are on, and use them when needed. Cars nowadays have automatic headlights that turn on when it gets dark, but always make sure you check your dashboard to ensure they are working when needed.
- Keep to your lane. There is a temptation to switch lanes to “go faster” than the other cars in your lane, but also a chance you might get rear-ended by a car that didn’t see you break out of your lane. Be predictable and avoid surprising other drivers with unwanted manoeuvres.
- Never overtake at a bend. Another driving-school tip, never overtake someone on a bend. You can’t see what’s coming around the corner, and it also causes other motorists to brake unnecessarily to avoid your sudden lane change.
- Keep an eye out for your blind spots. Use your car’s blind-spot monitor if you have one: it blinks orange if a car strays into your blind spot. If your car doesn’t have that, turn your head every so often to make sure no one is in your blind spot.
- Use your indicators. Self-explanatory, and we can’t stress this one enough.
- Focus on what’s coming. Always look out for obstacles ahead, like trucks parked at the side of the road, or construction work, which you can avoid earlier.