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What to Know about Being a Defensive Driver

You can follow all the rules and laws and still be an unsafe driver. That is because defensive driving is the safest way to approach the road. Defensive driving means you assume other drivers will drive dangerously, so you plan to respond accordingly. Defensive driving can help you avoid accidents. It can also help you minimize property damage and injuries when accidents are unavoidable.

From a safety perspective, defensive driving is the best. However, suppose you have been in an accident. In that case, you may struggle to explain how a defensive maneuver—such as choosing to sideswipe someone to avoid a head-on collision with another vehicle—means you should not be liable in an accident. Fortunately, a knowledgeable personal injury attorney at Emmanuel Sheppard & Condon can help explain what to know about being a defensive driver.

Awareness Is Key

The first rule for a defensive driver is always being aware of their surroundings. That means minimizing distractions in the vehicle. Defensive drivers never drive while intoxicated, do not use their cell phones except in emergencies, do not drive while tired, and line up their playlists before they start driving. Suppose children or other passengers start being fussy. In that case, defensive drivers pull over in a safe location to deal with any issues. If they get lost, they pull over to preview directions so that they can find their way.

No driver can avoid all distractions. As a general rule, a driver can only minimize the distractions in their vehicle. However, by doing so, they can fully concentrate on the road, providing them with situational awareness to help avoid accidents. Situational awareness is one of the top defensive driving skills.

Spot Problem Drivers

Defensive drivers are always on the lookout for problem drivers. They are often easy to spot since they drive differently than surrounding traffic. Watch for people speeding, weaving in and out of traffic, tailgating, and failing to signal. Those are warning signs that they could cause an accident.

Defensive drivers also look out for people who are going below the speed limit. They can be more dangerous than speeders—especially on highways with high-speed limits. Slow drivers are often lost or messing with their cell phones, which means they are distracted. They may suddenly accelerate, drift from their lane, or come to a complete stop in the middle of the street.

To keep an eye out for all potential problems, a driver should periodically check in their review mirrors. That provides clues to what type of drivers may be approaching and passing and how to react to them. Once a driver spots a problem driver, they should devise a plan to avoid interacting with them.

Plan to Avoid or Minimize Accidents

Being on the lookout means that a driver may be able to avoid accidents. It can provide a person with a few extra seconds of reaction time. That may be enough to brake or swerve to avoid an accident. Avoid speeding since faster speeds mean longer response times and less control over a vehicle. Keep a reasonable following distance—at least two full seconds between the rear of the leading car and the driver’s front bumper—and increase it in inclement weather or if someone is tailgating.

If an accident is unavoidable, consider the result likely to cause the most minor damage. Head-on collisions are generally more dangerous than hitting an object standing still or traveling in the same direction. Avoiding injuries may mean veering into traffic in the right-hand lane to avoid a head-on collision or choosing to hit an object instead of rear-ending another vehicle.

Consult a Defensive Driving Attorney

Defensive driving can help you avoid some—but not all—accidents. It can also help you minimize damages when a collision is inevitable. However, defensive driving can cause a driver to make choices that, in isolation, may appear negligent. That is why getting an attorney’s help is crucial if you are involved in this type of crash.

Our seasoned legal professionals can explain your actions to a factfinder to demonstrate how you minimized damages and should not be financially responsible for an accident. Call Emmanuel Sheppard & Condon today to learn more about how being a defensive driver could absolve you of fault for a wreck.