Chris and James Welsh of Welsh & Welsh
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4 Tips for Learning How to Drive Defensively

Published on Mar 21, 2017 at 6:41 pm in Car Accidents.

There’s no doubting the perils of the highway. Driving is a necessary, dangerous activity we take part in every day. There are ways to lessen the dangers, however. When a warrior or martial artist learns to defensively block incoming attacks, they learn how to protect themselves and their body from serious harm. Taking this same approach, a motorist can learn how to drive in a more defensive manner that may help them avoid devastating car accidents and keep their loved ones safe.

Driving defensively is a tactic that balances caution with the necessity to keep up with the flow of traffic. It revolves around learning how to anticipate circumstances and preemptively plan for situations that might occur which involve quick thinking. Essentially, it teaches us that thinking one step ahead of your opponent—whether that opponent is a drunk driver or a commercial truck driver who loses control of their vehicle—is the first step to coming out ahead.

So, how do you learn how to drive defensively and protect your family on Nebraska’s highways and roads? Here are 4 tips:

Eliminate Distractions

When you’re behind the wheel and distracted by your GPS or sound system, the person talking next to you, or your smartphone’s pinging social media notifications, you’re letting your reaction speed plummet. If you see a car swerve in front of you while you’re distracted by your friend’s latest Facebook message, you’re not going to react as quickly as you would if you had been 100% focused on the road.

Think about it like this. Does a soldier head into battle with a book or smartphone in their hands? Probably not. Driving may seem like a boring, mindless task at times, but the dangers of the road are very real—and require our full attention.

Think One Step Ahead

You can practice this while watching other vehicles on your way to or from work. Pay attention to how you plan your own driving decisions in comparison to the decisions other drivers make. What if the driver next to you decides to suddenly merge into your lane without signaling? If you’re following the car in front of you too closely, that may result in a crash. If you think one step ahead, you’ll conclude that it’s best to always leave a gap between yourself and other vehicles.

Have an Escape Plan

This one goes hand-in-hand with thinking one step ahead. If you anticipate that other drivers around you may make mistakes or sudden moves, you will naturally begin to think one step ahead. If you’re on a busy highway and aren’t sure what exit you need, what do you do? You change lanes until you’re closer to the exit. This same philosophy applies to having an escape plan. If you’re unsure of a situation or think a driver near you may make a poor decision, you need an escape route.

Allowing extra distance between you and other vehicles around you is one way to have an escape plan. Driving on the outward lanes of a highway or busy street is another method. This allows you to pull off the road quickly if necessary. Another method is to not drive directly next to a commercial truck if you can avoid it. This ensures you’ll be out of the way completely if that truck needs to stop suddenly and ends up jackknifing.

Lengthen Your Gaze

Most drivers get into the habit of keeping their eyes on the distance immediately ahead of them as well as the areas directly around their vehicle. By lengthening your gaze and paying attention to the road far ahead of you as well as what’s close to you, you can anticipate hazards better and avoid potential accidents.

You can practice this by anticipating curves and swerves ahead of time. Look far into a turn before you approach and focus on adjusting the steering wheel in small increments. Look ahead and scan for children playing in the streets or dogs that may be loose. When you see these obstacles far ahead of time, they won’t take you by surprise. After a while of learning to scan farther ahead, the technique will become natural.

The same can be said for all defensive driving techniques. The more you practice defensive driving methods, the more natural they will become. Like a practiced warrior, you will approach a highway like you would a battlefield—full of confidence, poise, and the knowledge that you are prepared for the worst and can protect your passengers who depend on you to keep them safe.

If, unfortunately, you’ve been in a car accident in Nebraska that was caused by a driver who may have been driving negligently or recklessly, you should also know that you can safeguard your loved ones by taking legal action against the guilty driver or an insurance company who is offering you an unfair settlement. For a free, zero-obligation case consultation, get in touch with Welsh & Welsh today. Our experienced Omaha, NE car accident attorneys are prepared to assist you however they can.