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Defensive Driving Tips

The best prevention against any type of collision or traffic incident, as always, is defensive driving. Avoid getting into a situation where an incident is imminent or unavoidable. Following these tips will help you ensure a safe and enjoyable trip, every time:  

  • Always focus on the driving, and practice alertness and awareness both on longer road trips and on routine trips and commutes;
  • Do not drive if you are tired or physically unwell;
  • Do not drive if your emotions overwhelm you and may affect your judgment. If you are experiencing extreme emotions, it is best to take a break, take some deep breaths, and continue only once you are calm;
  • Never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs;
  • Do not speed. Obey the speed limit, and keep in mind it refers to ideal road conditions. A reasonable speed both increases the time you will have to react to an unexpected development on the road, and lowers the impact should a collision occur;
  • Practice scanning in all traffic situations. Keep your eyes busy, make good use of your mirrors, and look as far ahead as you can, while also maintaining awareness of the traffic behind and around you. The better your perception  of the environment, the better your chances will be of anticipating difficult situations and reacting in time;
  • Maintain a safe distance (at least 2-3 seconds in normal conditions) from the other vehicles at all times. This space is another factor that will provide you with time to react in case something happens;
  • Keep in the center of your lane, and remember that in multilane traffic the right lane is the safest;
  • Signal when turning, observe right-of-way rules at intersections, and respect stop signs and traffic lights. Do this consistently;
  • Always adjust your driving to the conditions on the road. If these are too hazardous (thick fog, thunderstorm, or blizzard, for example), wait it out;
  • Share the road, and adjust your driving to pedestrians, especially children around schools and the elderly, but also to bicycles, motorcycles and big rigs, which use the road in different ways than a regular car and pose different challenges (say, if you need to pass them);

Finally, expect that drivers will make mistakes (this includes you) and drive in a way that will minimize the effects of any errors.

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