Defensive Driving

Wear your seat belt. It's still the best thing you can do to protect yourself in case the unexpected happens. It's hard to believe there are still those who don't buckle up, even though seatbelt use rates have never been higher.
Cut out distraction. Any time you become preoccupied with distractions, you're letting your defenses up. As always, minimize your eating, drinking, CD-changing, and cell phone conversations. Save them for when you're stopped in a safe place.
It's all about the attitude! Although defensive driving includes all of the above considerations, it's better described as a realization that driving is a privilege that you share with many others, that there are real people in other vehicles -- possibly even family, co-workers, or loved ones - and that aggressive, irresponsible driving on your part could put your life and the lives of others in danger. Defend your life.

Cell phones and driving…yes…another warning.
Whether you're talking or just listening, using a cell phone will make it harder to drive a car safely. A recent University of Illinois study showed that drivers who were speaking or listening had more difficulty maintaining a steady speed, keeping a constant distance between themselves and other vehicles, and staying in the proper lane. Researchers say the results show that the mental task of conversing on a cell phone in addition to the physical task of handling the equipment both impair a person's ability to drive safely. The results showed that both speaking and listening had negative effects on driving.
It is not just enough to limit your time on the cell phone or use hands free equipment.  If you are truly focused on being the most professional type of driver, cell phone usage should be extremely restricted.  This is especially applicable for new teenage and senior drivers.


Defensive Driving course: A primer
Why defensive driving…?
Defensive driving means that you're on guard and ready for what might happen -- cautious, yet ready to take action and not put your fate in the hands of other irresponsible drivers. According to National Safety Council data, 77 percent of all accidents are attributed to driver error. If you become a good, defensive driver, you can cut that percentage significantly.
Here are some important elements of defensive driving:
Allow enough space ahead. Four out of ten accidents involve rear-end collisions, many of which could have been avoided by simply following at a safe distance rather than tailgating. You should allow at least two seconds between your vehicle and the car ahead of you. That gap should be lengthened to three seconds at highway speeds and four or more in rain or other poor weather conditions.
Look ahead. Scan the road and the surrounding area at least a few hundred yards ahead for potential road hazards. Look around on both sides, and keep your eyes open for approaching vehicles, pedestrians, or animals that might enter your path.

Adjust for hazards. By slowing down or speeding up only slightly, or by moving to a different lane position, you may avoid a potentially hazardous situation.
Avoid frequent lane changes. Try to maintain a speed near that of the flow of nearby traffic. Remember your lane discipline and keep right unless passing. Remember to check the blind spot before making a lane change, too.
Use lights and signals. Turn your headlights on in dim daylight, rain, or other low-visibility weather conditions, and remember to always use turn signals. For expressway driving, we also believe that -- when still at a distance - a quick blink of the flash-to-pass feature on your headlights is far safer than the tailgating or the aggressive right-lane passing that often otherwise results. If you're in town, direct eye contact and gentle gestures might help clear any doubts over who has the right of way.
Keep a proper driving position. Maintain a comfortable, upright driving position, with both hands on the steering wheel (preferably at the nine- and three-o'clock positions). This will put you in a better position to make sudden avoidance maneuvers.