You’ve more than likely heard of aggressive driving, or “road rage,” which describes some drivers’ choice to use dangerous maneuvers and engage in conflicts with other drivers. Road rage can cause expensive car accidents resulting in property damage, serious bodily injury, and fatalities. Driving defensively is a much better choice than driving aggressively.
Why Should I Drive Defensively?
Defensive driving is both a style of driving and a specialized driving class. Defensive driving aims to protect the driver and all of the other motorists around them. People have varying styles in how they choose to drive, but when people choose to drive offensively, it can lead to road rage or aggressive driving.
Good driving entails several skills and habits. You must understand federal and state traffic laws so you can anticipate the actions of other drivers and react appropriately when they do something unexpected. You also need to have physical experience operating your vehicle and learning how it feels when you speed up, slow down, turn, and steer.
Familiarity with your vehicle is also crucial – it takes time to learn a vehicle’s blind spots and how it maneuvers in varying conditions. When you drive defensively, you learn to take these considerations more seriously before you start your car.
The Basics of Defensive Driving
Many people consider defensive driving as “common sense.” Engaging in these practices means less accidents and a calmer commute. Defensive driving includes:
- Staying alert for the road ahead. Traffic conditions can change in a split second. You need to be ready to move your vehicle to avoid another car, debris, or other road hazard quickly.
- Maintaining and controlling your vehicle’s speed. Driving a vehicle usually requires developing some muscle memory. You need to get used to how the vehicle feels as you move and learn pressure control with your feet. You need to know how to safely accelerate and decelerate.
- Staying a safe distance from other cars. Some drivers try to merge lanes very quickly without enough space, and drivers who think they’re about to be hit may react suddenly. When you allow for more space between your vehicle and others, you give yourself more time to react accordingly when others make unexpected movements.
- Always consider weather and road conditions. You should have an idea of how your car and tires handle various road conditions. However, it’s important to always exercise caution when driving in inclement weather, regardless of the type of vehicle you drive.
- Know the law. Once you understand the traffic signals and laws in West Virginia, it should be much easier to predict the flow of traffic. In doing so, you’re making it easier to adjust to unexpected changes in traffic or on the road.
- Remove distractions. Distracted driving is extremely dangerous. Your phone, stereo, food, or other distractions in your car can wait. Address any potential interferences before you start your car so you can focus entirely on driving.
- Respect others on their way. Learn the traffic laws, know your vehicle, and give others the room to drive their way safely.
If you’re interested in taking an official Defensive Driving course, reach out to your local Department of Motor Vehicles branch. Some automobile insurance companies offer rate discounts for drivers who complete the course. Additionally, West Virginia offers other benefits for completing the course. You can potentially have points removed from your driving record or have traffic tickets dismissed.
While these perks are great and useful, the best part about defensive driving is that it makes driving safer for everyone. You can’t always predict what other drivers will do in a situation, but when you drive defensively, you’ll react much more positively when something happens on the road.