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Defensive driving

In theory, traffic is a social fact that happens in a shared space (streets, roads etc.) where drivers have to cohabit peacefully in accordance with some rules. But often, just knowing and respecting these rules is not enough, and the driver has move with great care and be a real ‘know-all’ to avoid accidents.

Preventive driving is the most intelligent way of driving a vehicle

It doesn’t mean timid, slow or boring driving. It means being aware of the responsibility of driving a vehicle, being polite, civil and rational, maintaining concentration, not overestimating your own driving abilities, and keeping your vehicle maintained, among other precautions.

Most traffic accidents do not happen by chance but are caused by human failings. So mastering defensive driving can make the difference between having an accident or not.

If you avoid the situation, you avoid the danger. How be a top-10 driver

Observation is one of the keys to defensive driving. The driver who knows what’s happening around him or her at all times (looking ahead and keeping an eye on the mirrors and their blind spots) is always more likely to come off unscathed if something unexpected happens. Detecting distracted drivers in time can be particularly useful for avoiding a scare. The ‘symptoms’ are unmistakable: problems in keeping to their lane, including swerving or erratic driving. When overtaking you may see them paying more attention to their mobile phone than to driving. Here as in many other circumstances, you should apply one of the main principles of defensive driving: keep your distance, the further the better. The same goes for driving at dusk, at night or when it’s raining, when poor lighting conditions or a treacherous road surface require you to drive more slowly and maintain a greater distance.

Another point of conflict with other road users occurs at intersections and on access, acceleration or deceleration lanes. At intersections where you have priority, for example, anticipate your ‘move’ by reducing speed while warning with lights or horn (only outside towns) are the most appropriate measures to take if you don’t trust the driver to wait for you to turn.

Otherwise, apart from watching the behaviour of other drivers, you should take similar or more sever precautions yourself. Never make unexpected movements, and signal manoeuvres ahead with indicator lights, taking things slowly. Drive evenly without unnecessary acceleration or braking and in the highest gear you can. Lastly, drivers should be conscious of their own limitations, state of mind and physical condition: tiredness, alcohol or medication and even lack of experience are ‘controllable’ disadvantages. A stressed driver who’s sleepy or drunk will miss the details that mark the difference.