Why is Defensive Driving Important?

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If every single motorist followed the rules of the road, there would be far fewer car accidents. Unfortunately, too many motorists exceed the speed limit, drive while distracted or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or show signs of aggressive driving or other unsafe driving behaviors, all of which can cause serious car accidents. Although people can take steps to drive responsibly and follow the rules of the road, they cannot control the weather, unpredictable road hazards, and the way other people drive.

However, drivers can learn how to improve their own driving skills, identify common hazards, and take steps to avoid unsafe situations by learning important defensive driving skills. In addition to drivers learning techniques that can prevent them from getting into a serious accident, many insurance companies will offer discounts for a period of three to five years if they take a defensive driving course.

How Does Defensive Driving Avoid Accidents?

Defensive drivers are more aware of their surroundings and tend to be prepared for unexpected hazards compared to other drivers. The following defensive driving tips can help reduce the risk of being involved in a serious car accident:

  • Stay alert. Drivers must pay attention to their surroundings at all times. It is important to check side and rear-view mirrors and scan the road ahead. If a driver is showing signs of aggressive driving, that vehicle should be avoided by slowing down or changing lanes. If the aggressive driver is showing signs of road rage, it is best to take the next exit and call 911. Drivers need to be extra cautious when there are pedestrians and cyclists along the side of the road.
  • Make safety a priority. Drivers must avoid distractions and leave plenty of space between themselves and the car in front of them. When driving on a busy highway, drivers should minimize unnecessary lane changes. Seat belts should always be worn as they can save lives and reduce the severity of injuries.
  • Do not assume other drivers will make safe decisions. A driver should be prepared for other drivers making mistakes, such as driving through red lights or failing to signal when changing lanes. In this way, a driver will be better prepared to anticipate a potentially dangerous situation and react quickly to avoid it.
  • Leave a safe following distance. It is recommended for drivers to allow three to four seconds between themselves and the vehicle they are following. During inclement weather conditions, such as rain, snow, heavy fog, or extreme sun glare, the following distance should be increased by a minimum of one second. A driver traveling too close to the vehicle in front of them means that they will not have enough time to slow down or come to a complete stop before hitting the vehicle in front.
  • Adjust speed based on conditions. The posted speed limit should be followed. However, if road conditions become hazardous or if approaching a work or school zone, drivers should adjust their speed accordingly. When traveling at a high speed, the driver must maintain control of the vehicle at all times.
  • Plan an escape route. It is a good idea to position the vehicle in a place where an easy exit can be made if the path of travel becomes blocked. For example, when traveling on a busy highway during heavy traffic, drivers should stay in the right lane so that they can quickly exit if they are approaching an accident or another driver is tailgating them.
  • Deal with risks one at a time. Depending on the situation, a driver may face multiple risks at one time. Rather than panicking and becoming overwhelmed, it is best to identify one risk at a time and deal with it calmly and safely.
  • Avoid distractions. Operating a motor vehicle requires a driver’s full attention. Common distractions include using a phone to talk or text, reaching for something in the backseat, interacting with other passengers in the car, putting on makeup, and changing the radio station. One moment of distraction can have devastating consequences if a driver hits another vehicle, a pedestrian, or a cyclist. Drivers need to keep their attention on the road at all times.

What are Other Benefits of Taking a Defensive Driving Course?

Learning how to drive responsibly allows a driver to avoid behaviors that cause accidents. If someone is involved in a car accident with another driver who was speeding or driving aggressively, the other driver will likely be held liable for property damage or injuries. The following are additional benefits when becoming a skilled defensive driver:

  • Avoid harm caused by aggressive and distracted driving. If a driver is able to control their emotions and keep their attention focused on the road, they will detect other drivers who are distracted or driving aggressively.
  • Faster reaction time. An experienced defensive driver is able to react quickly to dangerous situations. Motorists who are driving too fast or are distracted may not be able to react quickly enough to avoid another vehicle that slowed down quickly or changed lanes.
  • Arrive at the destination safely. Defensive driving is safe driving. When a driver obeys the rules of the road, follows the speed limit, and keeps their attention focused on the road ahead at all times, they are much more likely to arrive at their destination safely.

What will Drivers Learn in a Defensive Driving Course?

Defensive driving is the practice of driving in a way that minimizes potentially dangerous situations on the road, including collisions; aggressive drivers; motorists who are speeding, tailgating, or weaving in and out of traffic; and unsafe road conditions caused by weather, construction, or other factors. Most defensive driving courses will cover the following topics:

  • Traffic accidents: Car accidents are responsible for approximately 41,000 fatalities and over three million injuries each year. Defensive driving courses cover common causes of these accidents, as well as the emotional and financial impact that car accidents cause. The skills taught in these classes educate students about the importance of using caution and good judgment when driving.
  • Psychological factors: If a motorist is stressed, drowsy, or emotionally upset, it can have a negative impact on his or her ability to safely operate their vehicle. In extreme cases, this can turn into road rage. Defensive driving courses teach students how to control these feelings and learn how to remain positive and focused while operating a motor vehicle.
  • Drunk and impaired driving: All defensive driving courses discuss the dangers of drunk or drugged driving. Specific topics generally include blood alcohol concentration limits by state; how drugs and alcohol impact a person’s judgment, inhibitions, motor skills, and senses; and the consequences of driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Dynamics of a car accident: The severity of a car accident typically depends on the speed at which the vehicles were traveling, the size of the vehicle that was hit, and the location of the impact. In some cases, multiple vehicles may be involved. Defensive driving courses discuss specific elements of a crash and how the force of impact can be avoided or lessened.
  • Safety equipment: Seat belts are one of the most important and effective safety features, yet many motorists fail to use them. Other safety equipment includes air bags, child safety seats, and head rests, all of which help protect vehicle occupants and reduce the risk of serious injury or death. Defensive driving courses offer tips on how to use each of these devices.
  • Crash prevention techniques: Learning how to avoid a crash is one of the most important things students can learn in a defensive driving course. Examples of crash prevention techniques include the following:
    • Being aware of reaction time
    • Employing the two-second rule for following distance
    • Environmental hazards
    • Knowing a vehicle’s stopping distance
    • Passing and necessary clearing distance
    • Scanning the roadway and adapting to surroundings
    • Sharing the road
    • Speed adjustments and railroad crossings
  • State traffic laws: Every state has traffic laws that are unique to that state. Defensive driving courses will cover this information.

Baltimore Car Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Seek Maximum Compensation for Victims of Car Accidents 

If you or someone you know was seriously injured in a car accident, you are urged to contact the Baltimore car accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton as soon as possible. Defensive driving skills can reduce your risk of being involved in a car accident, but since you cannot control the way other people drive, accidents happen. We will walk you through every step of the claims process, ensure that your legal rights are protected, and that you receive the maximum financial compensation you deserve for your injuries. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.

Our offices are conveniently located in BaltimoreColumbiaGlen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel CountyCarroll CountyHarford CountyHoward CountyMontgomery CountyPrince George’s CountyQueen Anne’s CountyMaryland’s Western CountiesSouthern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of CatonsvilleEssexHalethorpeMiddle RiverRosedale, Gwynn OakBrooklandvilleDundalkPikesvilleParkvilleNottinghamWindsor MillLuthervilleTimoniumSparrows PointRidgewood, and Elkridge.