Defensive Driving

Other than insuring your car properly, driving defensively is the 2nd best thing you can to protect you and yours on the road. Many of the drivers I see out on the roads today seem to be more offensive/aggressive drivers. People from big cities and/or the east coast seem to specialize in this particular driving style from what I’ve seen (all due respect to my friends from the east side).

My friend Brendan from New York is a prime example (but I still love ya Brendan!).  He tailgates people super close and then gets mad when they make any sudden moves that cause him to have to act quickly. He’s constantly swearing and chastising other drivers – and he is far from the worst I’ve seen.  I’ve seen some seriously loud, angry drivers out there from inside the car and across the lanes. So don’t be like Brendan – be at peace, take it slow, give drivers in front of you plenty of space for you own sanity and safety. You have plenty to lose and nothing to gain for every inch closer you get to your fellow drivers’ bumpers, so why even bother with that?

Be Alert
Keep your eyes and ears open for potential hazards upcoming. Don’t have your iPod mix cranked up so loud that you can’t hear the screeching brakes of a semi truck coming from behind you – this could be bad. Always have a pair of sunglasses in your car for sunny days to protect your eyes and maintain broad vision of what is in front of you and around you.
Hazards can come in many forms – a deer running from the side at night, a driver in front of you slamming on their brakes, black ice on a curve, accidents on the road, or even distractions from inside your car that can tempt away your focus from driving, to other more trivial things (“No dear, I really do want to hear about you sister’s bunions, but right now I must focus on the road to protect the people I love, which includes you, my cupcake.”

Leave Your Phone Off
When cell phones first came out I used to text and talk and drive all the time because I wasn’t really thinking about how dangerous that was. It was just the new exciting thing that everyone who was ‘cool’ was doing. Now that the novelty has worn off, I just turn my phone and/or ringer off when I’m driving and then check it when I get where I’m going. If you do need to use the phone, then pull off to the side to a safe area, turn it on, check your messages and/or make whatever calls or do whatever web research you need to do.  Then turn it back off and get back out there. This way you won’t be as tempted to answer a text while driving 75 mph on the interstate back home.

Mike Machina has written for 944 Magazine/944.com, Comcast, The Onion and Westword and has been a car enthusiast since he was first able to get behind the wheel of a truck on his friend’s farm in elementary school. He specializes in blogging about classic cars, everyday driving tips, maintenance, insurance and car humor.

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