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Top Tips For Driving Defensively

It is important that you stay alert when driving as unexpected obstacles or distractions cause accidents. During the summer, there are still hazards, even if there is no risk of icy roads and snow. In the warm flush of summer, when you feel the wind in your hair and the sun on your face, it can be easy to forget the safety basics.

Most British drivers consider themselves to be safe drivers, but no amount of skill and experience can completely remove risk from driving. Driving defensively can help to mitigate risks by anticipating, avoiding, and being prepared for, external factors. Here’s how:

Don’t be complacent

The biggest mistake a driver can make is trust others to drive as well and as safely as they do. If someone flashes their lights at you to proceed, don’t just obey blindly; check that it is safe to do so. The highway code doesn’t actually state that flashing your headlights means “proceed” – it is, in fact, a warning or a declaration of your presence. On short: don’t trust other drivers, unless you know what you are about to do is completely safe.

Observe and plan

The key to defensive driving is all about detective skills and planning. If you are on a narrow country lane, think about what is ahead: is there mud or horse droppings on the road that could indicate that there is a tractor or horse around the next blind corner? Is there space to slow down or pull in if there is an oncoming vehicle? On busier roads, look ahead; note the speed limit, keep an eye out for traffic lights or areas of congestion that may cause tailbacks.

Don’t trust vehicle lights!

Use lights such as brake lights and indicators as just that: indicators; don’t rely on them completely. If you are at traffic lights and the brake lights on the vehicle in front go off, don’t start moving until they are definitely in motion; a ding (even one at 1 mile an hour) will be your fault and could be costly. Likewise, if a vehicle is indicating, don’t trust that it will actually turn, but be aware that they may slow down and turn at some point. For example, if you are waiting to turn right and an oncoming vehicle is indicating, don’t assume that you are clear to turn; the oncoming vehicle may not be aware that their indicator is still on from a previous manoeuvre.

Only a fool forgets the two second rule

Give yourself time to stop. That’s all. If in doubt leave two seconds (or play it safe and go for three) between you and the vehicle in front. This will give you time to stop in emergencies.

Nervous driving? If you are anxious about driving on the motorway, abroad, or if you need a confidence boost, why not book a few booster lessons with a local, rated driving instructor? For car and driving tips and advice, join our community: follow Trust A Garage on Facebook or Twitter.

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