Contrary to what many people think, defensive driving is not a specific technique. Rather, it is a state of mind. You, the driver, must always consciously think about minimizing the risks of the road every time you get behind the wheel. Defensive driving is closely related to safe driving.
A defensive driver does not just concentrate on his or her driving. Rather, he or she will anticipate what other drivers are doing. Coupled with awareness of the surroundings, chances of an accident happening are greatly reduced. Defensive driving can even save on fuel costs by driving smoothly and steadily.
While better driving does come with experience, everyone should learn the basics of defensive driving, especially younger drivers. Youths accounted for almost 50 per cent of the 14,308 road accident death cases recorded in two years from 2019.
Here are seven basic tips for you to get into the defensive driving mindset.
1. Focus on Driving
Every time we get behind the wheel, life throws a million little distractions at us. Your phone, your spouse, children in the back, they serve to distract you from the real task at hand – driving. Remember, you’re piloting a two-ton metal machine at potentially fatal speeds, so full concentration is needed.
Try and do this the next time you get behind the wheel. Adjust your seat to a comfortable position, put your phone away to avoid possible distractions, and settle in to focus on the journey ahead.
2. Make Sure Your Passengers are Secure
Every time you get in the car, your passengers’ lives are in your hands. The least you can do is ensure they buckle up, so you can focus and drive with peace of mind. The passengers should also avoid distracting the driver.
For babies and young children, it is mandatory by law to strap them in suitable child safety seats in the car. The mandatory child seat laws have been in force in Malaysia since 1 January 2020.
For child seats, the standard for securing them in the car is called ISOFIX. In Malaysia, most cars made after 2014 have the ISOFIX system in place.
3. Be Aware of What’s Happening Around You
When you’re in a car, your spatial awareness is impaired by the car’s bodywork. That’s why the rear and side mirrors are there. By knowing what’s around you at all times, you can take evasive action if needed at any time. In particular, you need to pay attention to your car’s blind spots to avoid collisions when changing lanes.
When driving, knowing what’s behind you is also a crucial element of defensive driving. For example, if you’re on the right lane of the highway, and a much faster vehicle is approaching behind you, you will need to give way in a smooth, controlled manner.
4. Know What’s Happening Ahead of You
This isn’t just about the approaching car behind you. Defensive drivers will always look at least three or four cars ahead of them. This way, you can anticipate if the traffic will be slow, if there are any obstructions ahead, or even if a driver is acting recklessly ahead. You can then adjust your driving accordingly, while being smooth in the process.
For example, if a collision happens in front of you, you know that you can quickly evade to the side if required. This is doubly so if someone is driving recklessly ahead of you, and tragic accidents like this can be prevented.
5. Always Assume the Worst
Defensive driving is built around the assumption that other road users can and will make the worst decisions possible. You have no control over what they do, and you can’t trust anyone but yourself on the road.
This means giving other drivers a wide berth, overtaking quickly and decisively if need be. When changing lanes, always use your signals and make your intentions clear ahead of time. Always assume that the other driver will make the riskiest moves possible.
6. Always Leave a Space Around You
This is closely related to the point above. Always leave a three-second gap to the vehicle in front of you, and try not to drive neck-and-neck with another car beside you. Leaving a space gives you time and space to react to any sudden changes, while also allowing for a smoother drive as you don’t need to brake or accelerate suddenly.
In traffic jams, you can drive closer, but you should also try to keep your distance. This is particularly useful if you’re queuing on an incline as cars ahead may roll back slightly. Keeping your distance also means you can coast instead of stopping and starting as traffic inches forward. This can potentially avoid any fender bender or a car pile-up accident in traffic congestion.
7. Keep a Level Head
We’ve all encountered that one driver who we dearly want to scream obscenities at. But that is absolutely the opposite of the defensive driving mentality. No matter who is wrong or right, getting upset can get someone killed. So stay calm, put the incident behind you, and continue driving safely. If you suspect you are being deliberately tailgated or followed, drive to the nearest police station.
Focus and Drive Safe with Carsome
At Carsome, we know that the road is full of dangers. That is why we ensure all our cars are safe, comfortable, and aesthetically pleasing, so you can focus on the road while staying safe.
Every Carsome Certified car is curated and thoroughly inspected with our stringent 175-point inspection to ensure the car is free from major accidents, as well as frame, fire, or flood damage. It also undergoes a full, professional refurbishment at our Carsome Certified Lab where we check that all safety equipment is working properly, as well as maintaining tires and brakes above global safety standards.
Furthermore, every Carsome Certified car includes:
- Fixed prices without any hidden fees, including road tax, Puspakom inspection fee, ownership transfer fee and loan application fee.
- A five-day money-back guarantee in case you change your mind.
- A one-year warranty to ensure further peace of mind.
Drive with peace of mind by visiting carsome.my and choosing your dream ride now.