Defensive Driving in Illinois
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The goal of defensive driving is to reduce the risk of an auto accident by anticipating dangerous situations.
Even if you consider yourself to be a very safe driver, you are still at risk due to factors beyond your control. For example, adverse weather and the actions of other motorists contribute to many traffic accidents. Defensive driving teaches you to anticipate and respond to these hazards.
As part of the state's graduated licensing law, all teen drivers in Illinois must complete a driver education program that stresses defensive driving techniques. However, drivers of all ages can benefit from learning these principles.
Publications covering defensive driving and traffic safety can be found on the Illinois Driver Services Department website. However, even remembering a few simple defensive driving techniques can help you stay safe when traveling on Illinois roads.
The most important thing to remember about defensive driving is that you must always strive to stay alert. When you are driving, don't talk on your cell phone, eat, or engage in other nonessential activities. Avoid driving when you are tired, angry, distracted, or otherwise not in control of your emotions.
Safe drivers are attentive drivers. They are always looking for danger. They look around, look behind, and look ahead to spot potential hazards.
See and Be Seen
Contrary to popular belief, driving is not a solitary activity. A safe driver must work to communicate with other motorists. This includes using turn signals properly, keeping a steady and consistent speed, and avoiding driving in another vehicle's blind spot.
Expect the Worst
When driving, it's actually good to be a pessimist. Don't assume that another motorist knows when to yield at an intersection or is paying enough attention to stop at a red light.
Although young drivers represent an obvious safety hazard, drivers who are distracted or tired are just as dangerous. Defensive driving requires you to constantly be on the lookout for these motorists.
Coping with Aggressive Driving and Road Rage
Aggressive driving includes behaviors such as:
- Failing to yield.
- Cutting off other drivers.
- Attempting to use a car as a weapon against another driver.
Incidents of aggressive driving and road rage have increased on Illinois roads in recent years. While you can only control your emotions, it is possible to take steps to minimize a confrontation.
If you encounter an angry motorist, avoid eye contact and give him room to pass your vehicle. If you believe you may be in physical danger, call 911 as soon as possible.
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