SAFE DRIVING PRINCIPLES

The term Defensive Driving is talked about quite often, but have you stopped to think about what that means?

Defensive driving is pro-active. Drivers pay attention to the road, constantly observing their surroundings, and acting on situations if necessary. Defensive drivers are safe, secure, and confident.

Here are 10 safe driving principles to help you minimize accidents by improving your own defensive skills:


  1. Don't tailgate: You are more likely to make contact with the vehicle in front of you if the vehicle brakes suddenly. Always allow enough room between you and the vehicle in front of you.

  2. Obey the four-second rule: When the vehicle ahead of you passes a tree or telephone pole, slowly count one - one thousand, two - one thousand, three - one thousand, and four - one thousand. If you passed the tree or telephone pole before the end of your count, YOU ARE TOO CLOSE. (Double your count in poor weather conditions).

  3. Use turn signals: Drivers behind you can't read your mind! Failure to signal your intent to turn is always dangerous and can cause an accident.

  4. Maintain appropriate speed: Your stopping ability is compromised if you fail to reduce your speed in poor weather conditions. Don’t be afraid to slow down 5-10 miles under the speed limit to ensure safety.

  5. Inject yourself into your environment: BEING ALERT AT ALL TIMES IS YOUR BEST DEFENSE. Always watch your surroundings - where other vehicles are - what's going on around you - what's coming up ahead. Always anticipate the need to brake quickly or make lane changes.

  6. Be watchful at intersections: This means looking both ways and being extremely aware of cars to the left and to the right. Due to the inherent danger of intersections, defensive drivers should think and look twice before proceeding through every intersection.

  7. Minimize driving distractions: What exactly are driving distractions? Anything that threatens your safety, such as cell phones, passengers, music, or munching on a sandwich. By eliminating distractions you eliminate risk of an accident.

  8. Keep your eyes high: According to driver’s safety research released from NASCAR, high eyes driving reduces the risk of an accident from occurring when the driver must brake suddenly. High eyes driving means that the driver keeps their eyes on the horizon rather than fixated on the car directly in front of them. Panic stops and slammed breaks can be avoided when driving in this manner.

  9. Reduce lane changes: Driving at the speed limit and in your own lane greatly reduces the risk of a rear end collision. It is more common for a vehicle to be involved in an accident while changing lanes.

  10. Be aware of speedy lane changers: Even though you may not be changing lanes, it is important to be aware of drivers who change lanes quickly. These drivers dart in and out of traffic, often cutting other drivers off and cause abrupt braking. Regularly monitoring your mirrors can help you keep a lookout for these dangerous drivers.