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Defensive driving means anticipating potential driving issues and being ready to react accordingly. Many states offer defensive driving courses to help drivers be prepared for all kinds of driving conditions, and in some states taking such a course can reduce points on your driving record and prevent a ticket from causing your insurance rates to increase. More than 40,000 people are killed and over 3 million are injured every year as a result of car crashes. About 30% of fatal crashes are a result of speeding, and nearly 40% involve alcohol. Defensive driving is a must to stay safe on the roads. You can’t control other drivers but you should do all you can to keep yourself safe. Follow these steps to be a defensive driving pro!

Transportation Gazette

Take basic precautions every time you drive. Always wear a seatbelt (and make sure all passengers do too!), drive within the speed limit, leave sufficient distance between your car and other vehicles, and adjust your driving according to road conditions. Keep in mind that half of all deaths due to car crashes could have been avoided if drivers and passengers had been wearing seatbelts.

Stay focused. This means eliminating distractions that take your attention away from the road even for a second – sometimes a second can make all the difference in avoiding a collision. These days drivers can be distracted by any number of diversions, from a text message to eye-catching billboards. Every time you get on the road, driving safely should be your top priority.

Stay aware of what is going on around you at all times. Is the driver ahead of you drifting into your lane? Pass the person with caution and be ready to honk if they start to drift towards you. Is the person behind you tailgating? Move over and let them pass you. This kind of thinking can help you avoid an accident by staying one step ahead.

Smart Driving

Be aware of emotional factors that can influence your driving. Feeling stressed, angry, or otherwise upset can cause drivers to drive more recklessly and lead to other types of driving aggression such as road rage. When you drive, check in with yourself for any emotional concerns that might cause you to miss or ignore warning signs on the road.

Never drive when physically impaired. It goes without saying that driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs puts you and other motorists at great risk of harm, but driving while tired or taking certain medications (such as cold medicine) can similarly impair driving ability. Sometimes defensive driving means not driving at all.

Leave with enough time to get where you’re going. Many people speed because they’re running late, but speeding for any reason is associated with an increase in fatal car crashes. Avoid the impulse to speed by leaving plenty of travel time and accounting for delays due to traffic and weather.

Educate yourself about crash prevention techniques and use them every time you drive. These include scanning the road and adjusting driving to the conditions, and obeying all right-of-way laws.