Defensive Driving in Washington DC
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Although defensive driving goes hand-in-hand with safe driving practices, it requires a slightly different approach.
Defensive driving means always trying to anticipate what may happen next, and being prepared to take action to avoid danger. To successfully do this, you must constantly monitor what is happening on the road, and planning ahead.
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.
- Always try to keep a safe distance from the vehicles around you.
- Scan the path ahead of you at least 12-15 seconds. Don't be focused just on the area immediately ahead 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 vehicle represents an above-average chance that someone may be leaving or entering the vehicle, and possibly entering your path of travel.
- 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 realize the posted speed is not a safe speed under all circumstances.
- Be especially careful when 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 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 for areas with high tourism levels.
- 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 drivers' blind spots.
- Stay well behind trucks with cargo that could easily spill onto the road, if you can. These vehicles could send debris flying into your path of travel.
- Stay well behind a vehicle with an accumulation of snow of its roof, as this situation can create an instant white-out condition for anyone stuck driving behind the vehicle.
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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