Driving can be an enjoyable activity, especially when you understand and obey the rules of the road. However, even if you believe yourself to be a defensive driver, the risk of accidents as the result of another driver is still significant. One 2018 report noted that nearly 3,000 people die each year on Canadian roadways, and while some accidents are caused by bad weather, others are usually due to driver inattention and error. Improving your defensive driving habits can reduce this risk, and there are several strategies you can use to do so.
- Adjust Your Speed Consistently
Speeding and failing to move with the flow of traffic can cause accidents, especially rear-end crashes that can result in serious injury to anyone in either vehicle. To lower crash risk, be aware of your speed and move with the traffic instead of trying to rapidly switch lanes or speed ahead of other drivers. Unless you need to switch lanes to turn, remain where you are and monitor your speed so you have plenty of time to stop in case the traffic in front of you should brake suddenly.
If you are exiting off a freeway ramp and there is no traffic ahead of you, it is still wise to lower your speed. Many off ramps tend to curve sharply, which can make it difficult to gauge what kind of traffic conditions lie ahead of you. Slowing your speed can give you more control and prevent having to swerve or slam on the brakes, both of which could cause you to crash.
- Do Not Assume the Actions of Other Drivers
Some accidents happen because one driver assumed another would yield when necessary, give the right of right of way, or was paying attention at a stoplight. Many drivers multitask when they are behind the wheel, and eating, drinking, and tuning the radio or electronic device count as the top distractions among Canadian drivers.
Being prepared can reduce the risk of being the victim of driver inattention. For example, if a driver to your right must merge while you are entering the highway and he or she has a yield sign, slow down as you approach to ensure that driver is not going to claim the right of way. This can happen if another driver is in a hurry or has gotten into the habit of driving aggressively.
- Avoid Altercations
While it can be frustrating and frightening when other drivers cut you off, responding with aggressive driving or chasing them can be dangerous for you and everyone else on the road. Road rage has led to crashes and assaults in the past, and it is best to keep a calm head and let the other driver pass you.
If you believe another driver might hurt someone as a result of aggressive driving, it is a good idea to pull off into a safe area, such as a large parking lot, and call the authorities. Trying to force another driver off the road can be deadly, and reporting them once your car is parked is likely the best avenue for preventing a dangerous confrontation.
- Choose a Car With Updated Safety Features
Driving a car with a variety of new safety features can support your defensive driving habits. For example, a car that includes lane-change assist technology may keep you safer when you must shift lanes in heavy traffic, and auto braking could help you avoid a rear-end crash if a car in front of you stops suddenly.
New car models include many new technological safety features that can help you be a more defensive driver. Looking into lenders that offer a simple car loan process may be useful in finding an affordable vehicle without the wait.
Canadian roadways can be fraught with inattentive drivers. Improving your defensive driving habits can make you more aware of potential problems and reduce your risk of being involved in an accident.