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5 critical defensive driving tips

The road is a dangerous place. Every year, car accidents kill tens of thousands of people and injure many more. Everyone who gets behind the wheel thinks it won't happen to them. The unfortunate reality is that accidents strike at all times of day, for thousands of different reasons and every driver is at risk.

That does not mean there's nothing you can do to lower the risks. Below are five critical defensive driving tips that may help.

1. Don't just watch the road in front of you.

Check your mirrors. Watch cars behind you. Scan all of the side streets as you come up to them. When you're paying close attention to everything, you can react quickly as soon as someone else makes a mistake. For instance, you may see that a car isn't slowing down at an intersection and adjust your own speed to avoid a crash right before that driver runs a red light.

2. Assume others will make mistakes.

Too often, drivers assume everyone else will drive perfectly. However, human error causes most car accidents. You may have the right of way, but don't count on others and don't drive ahead blindly. A traffic light is just a light -- it won't prevent an accident when another driver doesn't see it.

3. Stay four seconds back.

People tailgate constantly. Many of them don't realize it, assuming that staying one or two seconds back is a safe following distance. It's not. You won't have enough time to stop. You want to be at least three or four seconds back. Frustratingly, this often means other drivers will cut in, seeing that as an open space and not your buffer zone. Don't get mad. Just back off and keep your distance.

4. Limit your own distractions.

A distraction may feel necessary in the car. It's a long drive. You're bored. We've all been there, but the reality is that thinking about anything else puts you at risk. Even simple things like listening to the radio can reduce reaction times. When others make mistakes, the only thing that often saves you from an accident is your reaction time. You want it to be as quick as possible.

5. Consider escape routes and surroundings.

Know your surroundings. Be aware of empty lanes, shoulders, other cars, bicyclists and pedestrians. Consider where you'll go and what you'll do when an accident seems inevitable. Sometimes, the best course of action is to safely steer into an escape route. Other times, the best option is just to slam on the brakes and reduce your speed before the impact. You don't want to have to think about this as it's happening. Know what you plan to do in advance, at all times.

Being vigilant may keep you safe, but the best defensive drivers in the world can't always avoid accidents caused by others who are reckless and negligent. Be sure you know how to proceed if you're injured on the highways of Texas.

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Smith Law Firm
1006 Green Ave.
Orange, TX 77630

Phone: 409-233-7005

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