Many of us have had close calls when the unexpected happens while driving. Most of the time, the unexpected occurrences are caused by other drivers. In a way, that’s fortunate because it’s far easier to predict the actions of another human being than chance events caused by inanimate objects, such as a tree dropping a large branch on the road.
Defensive driving is actively using your mind to anticipate which drivers are likely to cut you off or make some other dangerous maneuver. This reduces your reaction time should your anticipation come true. The difference between an accident and a close call is those vital seconds it takes for you to recognize a danger and react to it. Driving like this keeps your mind active and prevents you from driving on autopilot while your mind wanders. It not only prevents you from making auto insurance claims, it can save your life. Check out our article “3 ways to reduce your auto insurance without sacrificing coverage“.
Drivers often give clues about their intentions. You can also infer possible driver actions by the road situation as well. Here are four tips on doing this:
Watch the Driver’s Head When Overtaking on a Multilane Highway
When you’re about to pass a car using the lane to its left and you notice the driver turning her head to the left, she is probably checking her blind spot. This indicates her intent to move into the lane to her left. Avoid using this lane to pass her.
Watch for Cars That Are Forced to Merge into Your Lane
Multiple lane roads sometimes reduce their lanes when you’re driving away from urban areas, and road construction causes temporary lane closures. When a lane next to you closes, be mindful of the cars that will be forced to merge into your lane. Anticipate their merge and give them enough room.
Look for The “Rolling Stop”
At intersections where you have the right of way, you can spot a car that might attempt to dart in front of you by looking at its wheels. If they are slowly rolling, the driver is about to make his move into the road in front of you. This is very likely if there’s enough road space to allow this. Be especially careful when the wheels are moving and the driver is not looking your way.
Anticipate the Blind Intersections of Other Cars
When approaching an intersection where you have the right of way, watch for the front ends of cars at the cross-road. If you can’t see the car’s windshield because traffic, parked vehicles, foliage, or some other visual obstruction is blocking your view, the driver can’t see you because he is at a blind intersection. Tap your horn a few times and be ready to stop or take evasive action.