Expect the unexpected and learn how to react.You may be the safest driver in the world, but that doesn’t mean you are safe from the antics of other drivers. Being a defensive driver simply means having the skills that put you in control so you can anticipate incidents, react to them and lower your risk behind the wheel.
Look up and stay focused. Sit with your gait held up so you can have a clear view of the road. Concentrate only on driving and nothing else. This helps you to be mindful of traffic laws, to check your mirrors and to keep within the speed limit, among other things. Avoid using your handphone or tablet while driving. If caught, you can be fined not more than $1,000 or jailed for a term not exceeding six months or both. The penalty is double for repeat offenders.
See the big picture and stay alert. Always keep your eye on the road and your surrounding view to identify potential dangers, including other moving vehicles. You need to have all your wits about you to react to unexpected situations; such as when a car in front of you brakes suddenly, or the car next to you swerves to avoid hitting a cyclist. If you feel tired or sleepy while driving, pull over to somewhere safe and take a short break before continuing.
Always have an escape route. Be sure to leave yourself an alternative route to move your vehicle if your immediate path of travel is suddenly blocked. Avoid getting blocked by other vehicles and make sure you don’t follow other cars too closely.
Expect others to make mistakes. You may have signalled your intention but that doesn’t mean other drivers are automatically going to give way to you. So look before you change lanes. When it comes to traffic junctions, be prepared for drivers who will run red lights or pedestrians who will do a quick dash, and be prepared to react. Don’t just move ahead because the light is in your favour.Keep a safe distance. Timing is key to maintaining a safe distance between you and the driver in front of you. Every second makes a difference so use the 3-second rule as a guide to keep your distance. Double the distance if the weather or road conditions are not ideal. By creating a space between your vehicle and other drivers gives you extra space to avoid unexpected collisions too.
Adapt to the road conditions. Unexpected situations such as bad weather or construction can affect road conditions. In such cases, adjust your driving habits. If there is construction, you should expect to slow down even if it is under the normal speed limit. You should be on high alert even after you’ve passed the site, keeping an eye out for debris that may have been dragged by other vehicles.
Monitor your blind spots and those of others. Keep an eye out for vehicles that may be travelling next to you in your blind spot before you make a turn or change lanes. Be cautious of larger vehicles such as trucks or buses, with large blind spots. The rule of thumb is that if you cannot see the driver in the mirror of the large vehicle, the driver cannot see you too.
Look out for other vehicles. If you see any vehicle with signs of accident damages, refrain from getting too close to that vehicle. These are indications that the owner of the vehicle may not a defensive driver, and to avoid danger and for your own safety, you don’t want to be driving too close to the vehicle.