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  • Defensive Driving in Maryland

    What is Defensive Driving?

    Although defensive driving goes hand-in-hand with safe driving practices, it requires a slightly different approach.

    Defensive driving means always anticipating what may happen next, and being prepared to take action to avoid danger. To successfully do this, you must be constantly aware of what is happening on the road, and planning ahead.

    Defensive Driving Techniques

    Please review our list of some common defensive driving practices, and incorporate them into your driving habits:

    • Always have an escape route in mind in case an emergency situation arises. To effectively do this, you must continually be aware of the space around you.
    • Attempt to always keep a safe distance from the vehicles around you.
    • Scan the path ahead of you at least about 12-15 seconds. Don't just look at the space directly in front of your vehicle.
    • Look in every direction before crossing an intersection, even when you have the right-of-way.
    • Exercise increased caution anytime you have a limited field of vision, such as when approaching the top of a hill.
    • Be aware of school buses, ice-cream trucks, mail trucks, and delivery trucks. Each represents an increased likelihood that someone may be leaving or entering a vehicle.
    • Be especially vigilant in construction zones and around emergency scenes, as other drivers may not be properly focused on their driving.
    • Slow down when around erratic or dangerous drivers, as they increase the likelihood that an accident will happen.
    • Cover the brakes and exercise increased caution in areas such as shopping centers, school zones, toll plazas, playgrounds, and intersections.
    • Automatically reduce speed when conditions warrant it, such as when driving in rain, snow, fog, or on icy roads. Be proactive, and don't fall into thinking that driving at the posted speed limit means you're driving at a safe speed.
    • Be especially careful around parked cars, as someone could dart out from between the cars. Also, drivers may be opening a car door, or trying to pull out of a parking space, right into your line of travel.
    • Exercise increased caution when driving on roads that are very wet or slushy as other motorists could splash your windshield, leaving you unable to see for an instant.
    • Be wary of drivers with out-of-state plates or rental cars, as well as drivers who have a map out or their interior lights on. All point to drivers who may not be familiar with the area, and thus may be confused or distracted. This is especially important in areas of Maryland which receive a heavy amount of tourists.
    • Look out for drivers backing up into the road from a driveway or parking lot, as these drivers may have a limited field of vision.
    • Watch out for slippery conditions during the first several minutes after it begins to rain, as the rain will mix with the oily residue on the road surface.
    • Anticipate the worst moves that drivers around you could make, and know how to safely react to each move.
    • Try to keep your vehicle as visible as possible to other drivers, and whenever you can, stay out of other driver's blind spots.
    • Stay well in back of trucks with cargo that could easily spill onto the road. These vehicles could send debris flying into your path of travel, or those around you.
    • Stay well behind a vehicle with an accumulation of snow of its roof, as this situation can create instant white-out conditions for anyone stuck driving behind it.

    By practicing these techniques, you'll greatly increase the chances that you'll make it to and from your destination safely.

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