Defensive driving is one of the best ways to help keep you and your family safe on the road. It’s easy to slip into auto-pilot and forget that there’s more to driving than simply steering and keeping your foot on the pedal.
Here’s a few simple precautions that might reduce your risk of having an accident when you’re out on the road.
Mind the gap
The most common car accident is rear end collision, where a following car hits the one in front. The easiest way to avoid this is to stick to the two-second rule.
At all times, stay at least two seconds (even three) behind the vehicle in front of you. At night, or if it is raining or foggy, double the gap.
Keep calm and drive
As our roads become busier, Aussie drivers are becoming more and more frustrated. Bad behaviour by other drivers can be very irritating, but getting angry can distract you and affect your judgement.
It’s sometimes easier said than done, but try to be polite to other drivers and share the road. Let them merge or change lanes (even if they’re really annoying you). Only use your horn as a warning; not because you’re angry. Stay calm and concentrate on getting to where you need to go, safely.
The Australian Driver Trainers Association say that those who blame outside factors such as other drivers for incidents on the road tend not to learn from them.
These drivers say things like "I've only ever had two crashes, they both weren't my fault - the cars in front stopped suddenly". Good drivers learn from experience: they think about what they could do differently that may prevent the same situation from happening again.
Look out for the blind spot
By carefully adjusting your rear view mirrors you can reduce blind spots. Blind spots are areas that you can’t see in your mirrors. A quick head check, especially before changing lanes can also help avoid a crash.
You should assume other drivers won’t do a blind spot check and avoid driving in other vehicle’s blind spots, especially in traffic. Stay in front of the other driver or behind their car’s back bumper, and they should be able to spot you.
Biggest dangers on the road
Most fatal accidents in Australia involve speeding, fatigue, or alcohol. By taking care not to break the speed limit, and not driving when tired or after drinking, you can make a huge difference to your family's safety on the road.
Don't allow the kids, the phone or anything else to distract you while you’re at the wheel. The Queensland Police estimate distracted drivers account for a quarter of all crashes in that state.