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Defensive Driving 101

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Safe driving is more than following the speed limit and putting away your cell phone when behind the wheel. Safe driving is your lifeline.

Even if you believe you are practicing safe driving, it is important to recognize that other drivers may not be. You must pay attention to the vehicles around you and expect other drivers to make mistakes.

Defensive driving is anticipating problems that may occur on the road and responding to them before they happen. Whether it is a problem you cause or a problem caused by another driver, defensive driving can help prepare you for the unexpected.

There are several things you can do to practice defensive driving:

· Plan your route. Looking at your phone or map for directions takes your eyes off the road. Plan ahead by mapping out your route or pulling directions up on your GPS before putting the car in drive.

· Control your speed. Speed limits are meant to keep you and other drivers safe, so make sure you keep your speed under control, especially when in commercialized areas where there may be heavy traffic and pedestrians.

· Maintain a safe following distance. Keep a safe following distance between you and the car in front of you in the case you need to break suddenly while on the road.

· Drive cautiously in bad weather/road conditions. Irregular road conditions such as construction zones and slick asphalt can make it difficult to drive. Maintain a slow, steady speed and be aware of your surroundings when driving in bad weather or road conditions.

· Drive distraction free. Avoid eating food, texting or talking on your cell phone, and other distractions while driving. These distractions take your eyes off the road and distract you from putting your full attention on driving.

· Never drink before driving. Driving while intoxicated is never okay, whether you’ve had one drink or five. Alcohol affects your judgment and reaction time, and in effect, driving drunk could cause injury and fatal accidents.

· Don’t drive while drowsy. Driving drowsy is no different than driving intoxicated. Make sure you are well rested before driving to ensure you won’t fall asleep while behind the wheel. If you find you are becoming tired when behind the wheel, pull over to rest.

By practicing defensive driving, you are not only keeping yourself safe, but those on the road around you. When you make a conscious decision to drive safely, you help prevent accidents and unforeseen circumstances that can lead to negative consequences.

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