Defensive Driving 101: How to Driver Slower and Safer on the Road

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When you’re behind the wheel, you owe it to yourself, your loved ones, and everyone else on the road to drive safely. It only takes one wrong move to change your life forever or to become that person who’s driving sets a complete stranger’s life down a darker path.  

As harsh as it may sound, it’s true. 

Reckless driving puts everyone at risk, and it really doesn’t do you any good.   

But, it’s one thing to understand the downside of defensive driving and another to stop doing it. Here are 7 tips you can use the next time you find yourself speeding.  

1. Put Your Phone Down

You’re less likely to pay attention to speed limit signs or your car’s odometer when you’re using your phone. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to text your daughter or make a quick call to your significant other – put the phone down and handle your communications at a different time. 

If it’s urgent, use your car’s Bluetooth functions or pull over and do what you need to do. These are simple tasks that only take a few seconds, but they make a big difference in how safe your driving is.

2. Look for Unexpected Speed Limit Changes 

You’ll start to notice how important it is to put your phone down when you get better at identifying school zones and work zones. These are areas where there’s a high level of foot traffic and as such, a higher risk for pedestrians to get injured by reckless drivers. 

Even if you don’t cause a bad, fatal accident, you’re basically asking for a hefty speeding ticket when you blow through these zones. The fines for speeding through a school zone or working area are typically much higher than those of the standard offense. They also add points to your license and may land you in driving school.

To make matters worse, a record of traffic offenses can cause a spike in your car insurance rate – and looking up more info about auto insurance is probably the last thing you want to do in your free time, right?  

3. Try Using Cruise Control 

Here’s the easiest way to avoid speeding tickets and accidents: start using cruise control. This will change your life.  

You’ll be surprised to notice how much more of a relaxed driver you are when you’re not constantly speeding up and slowing down. This also makes it harder to weave in and out of traffic, which means you’ll just have to stay in your lane as all the other good drivers do. 

4. Ignore Other Drivers 

Speaking of other drivers, stop caring so much about what other people are doing on the road. You do need to look out for possible road hazards and bad driving. But, if you’re constantly trying to cut people off or get back at those who you feel have wronged you on the road, you need to reassess your priorities.  

You’ll probably never see those other drivers again. More so, you should take a moment and try to put yourself in their shoes. The woman in front of you who is driving 10 miles under the speed limit may have just gotten a speeding ticket herself and feel paranoid, or she may have lost someone due to reckless driving.  

And the other driver who cut you off in traffic this morning? They probably had a lot on their mind, but that shouldn’t be any of your concern. All you have to do is focus on your good driving. 

5. Add Time to All Your Commute

Another way to change your defensive driving habits is to stop trying to beat the clock every time you get in the car. Add more time to all of your regular commutes. 

If you’re the person who tries to make it to work in 20 minutes every morning, give yourself 30 or even 45 to get there tomorrow. You have no reason to speed when you have this extra time to ensure you arrive on time.  

6. Find a Different Way to Release Adrenaline

Maybe it’s not other drivers or time management that bring out your bad driving. Maybe you just love feeling like you’re taking your car out for a joy ride whenever you’re behind the wheel.  

It’s time to find another way to let out your need for speed. This really isn’t about speed, either. It’s about adrenaline. If you like the rush of going a little faster than you should or of changing lanes on the highway, you need a new, exciting hobby in your life – one that doesn’t put others in danger. 

7. Relax! 

Regardless of what it is, that causes your defensive driving, taking a moment to relax will always help. Use your time at a stoplight to release your hands from the wheel and loosen the tension in your body for a second. Practice deep breathing from time to time whenever you’re on long road trips or stuck in standstill traffic.  

This will do wonders for your driving and for your wellbeing as a whole. The more you find small pockets of time to relax throughout the day, the less of an aggressive person you’ll be.  

The Cost of Defensive Driving

Bonus tip: whenever you’re tempted to weave through traffic or drive over the speed limit, just think of the cost of defensive driving. Poor driving habits lead to severe accidents. They can take innocent lives and leave those who walk away from an accident to deal with emotional burdens, financial struggles, and other issues. 

Put simply, it’s just not worth it.  

If you have been in a car accident recently, click here for tips on how to manage the pain.