There are more than six million car accidents in the United States every year, causing more than three million injuries. If you’re injured in a car accident, we always recommend that you employ the services of a talented, experienced personal injury attorney.

However, we’d prefer that you don’t get into a car accident in the first place. And since most accidents are caused by the mistakes of one or more drivers, the best way to avoid a collision is to learn some techniques to drive “defensively”, since you can’t control what the drivers around you are doing.

What is Defensive Driving?

Defensive driving is all about being constantly aware of your surroundings, the road conditions, and the hazards you might encounter while you drive — including other drivers. If you’re paying attention to slippery roads, slowing traffic, and other possible hazards, you can keep yourself out of trouble before it starts.

In a lot of states, you can even get a reduction in your insurance premiums for completing a defensive driving course. These classes are anywhere from four to eight hours long, and they might include training in recognizing dangerous situations, maintaining control of your car on slippery roads, and de-escalating road rage confrontations.

Defensive Driving Techniques

More than 90 percent of vehicle crashes are caused by driver error such as: following too closely, driving distracted, trying to beat a yellow light, changing lanes without signaling — there is an endless number of ways that drivers’ unsafe behaviors can cause collisions and possibly injuries.

The good news is that if most crashes are caused by driver error, most collisions can be avoided by better drivers! That’s where defensive driving comes in, giving you the power to take your driving fate into your own hands. 

Some defensive driving techniques include:

  • Checking your mirrors frequently to keep stock of who’s around your car at all times. This is especially important on multi-lane roads, where there may be cars on all sides as well as in front of you.
  • Scanning the road as far in advance as possible, not just paying attention to the car in front of you. By anticipating changes in speed, sudden rough spots in the road, obstacles, pedestrians, and other vehicles, you can be more proactive in avoiding collisions.
  • Avoiding the blind spots of other vehicles. As a rule of thumb, if you can’t see another driver’s mirrors, they can’t see you. You also can’t assume that other drivers will be as attentive as you are, so avoiding situations where they could suddenly change lanes into you is a good way to prevent an accident.
  • Eliminating distractions like eating, texting, checking maps or music, talking on the phone, shaving or applying makeup, and so on. The more your attention is divided by tasks other than driving, the harder it will be to pay attention to all the factors around you.
  • Staying calm in stressful situations. When someone cuts you off or does something stupid on the road, it can be tempting to get angry, yell at them, or even to try to retaliate. Road rage is unproductive at best and dangerous at worst, and it’s imperative that you don’t escalate an already unpleasant circumstance.
  • Being aware of “escape routes.” If the driver in front of you slams on the brakes, can you swerve to one side to avoid them? Is there already a car in that lane? When’s the last time you checked? If there’s no room to swerve, there needs to be room in front of you. This is the kind of thing that a defensive driver keeps in mind at all times.

Benefits of Taking a Defensive Driving Course

The first benefit of a defensive driving course is peace of mind. Knowing that you’re equipped for more situations and better prepared if something goes wrong will make driving less stressful and keep you calm on your daily commute.

The second benefit might be lower insurance premiums. Depending on the state you live in, your age, your insurance carrier, and a few other factors, you may be eligible for a discount on your insurance premiums for taking a defensive driving course.

If Injured, Contact an Attorney

If you’re injured in a car accident, you might not think you need a personal injury lawyer to help you sort through everything. But insurance providers are notoriously hesitant to pay out, especially if they believe that you might have been partially at fault for the accident.The experienced attorneys at Mintz Law Firm can help you sort through the details of your case quickly and efficiently, ensuring that you get the compensation for medical expenses  that you’re entitled to. Contact us today!