Defensive Driving Rule Number Two: Planning Your Route
Plan to leave in plenty of time to safely make the trip.
Impatience, frustration, anger and being in a hurry have absolutely no place behind the wheel of a car. Leave early enough to give yourself ample time to take into account delays. Expect the unexpected to happen. This can be difficult for people with long commutes. Adding ten or even fifteen more minutes to your commute, only to arrive at work early seems like a waste of time. I assure you, it is not. If you are involved in an accident, it can take up a great deal of your time, cause tremendous physical harm and destroy your life.
Yes, you should plan the exact route you plan to drive.
Planning the route you are going to drive is a little more than what the idea first seems. You already know how to get to work, the grocery store and most likely everywhere you commonly go. But what lane are you in on each leg of the journey? Is it a safe route or does it have a few risky turns? Does the path of travel go through dangerous roads?
Choose to be in the right-hand lane throughout your trip.
Well, chose to be in the right lane unless you plan to be turning left within five miles in heavy traffic, or two miles in extremely light traffic. In other words, if you are planning to turn right off of a road, you should be traveling in the right-hand lane. The only time it is a good idea to be in the left-hand lane is if you have moved over, far in advance, to prepare for a left-hand turn. You can always pass slow motorists, using your signals appropriately and changing lanes cautiously.
Accelerate and decelerate at a slow steady pace.
This is the heart of true defensive driving, giving other drivers ample opportunity to anticipate what you are going to do so they can avoid a collision with you. If you accelerate slowly, maintain steady speeds while driving and brake slowly, everyone around you has a lot of options to avoid hitting you. If you see a red light up ahead, take your foot off the gas, as you approach, slowly apply the brakes. The person behind you, even if they are distracted, will manage to notice you are slowing down. You also get the wonderful side effect of better gas efficiency and minimize the wear and tear on your vehicle.
Change lanes only when there is very little risk.
Plan your turns well in advance and change lanes slowly and methodically well ahead of time. Utilize your turn signal a full three to five seconds before you attempt to change lanes. Use your rearview mirrors and wait for a completely clear space to navigate into. This includes behind you and in front of you. Just before you make the lane change, physically turn your head and check your blind spots to ensure the lane is actually clear. Change lanes maintaining a constant speed. Do not break after changing lanes. If you have to apply your brakes after a lane change, you didn’t ensure the path in front of you was clear. Be patient and consistent.
Make safe turns.
Avoid making a left-hand turn across heavy traffic. Always proceed to the next red light and make a U-turn so you can make a right-hand turn into your destination. When making a right-hand turn, signal five to ten second before you plan to begin to brake, brake slowly and then make your right hand turn. If a road is particularly dangerous. Consider traveling down a safer parallel road. Choose a road to travel back to the more dangerous road. Then turning onto the more dangerous road at a point where you can make a right hand turn into your destination.
Defensive driving may seem tedious, but as you acquire and practice these skills, they will become second nature. It will take a lot of the aggravation out of driving and you will find your commutes and travel to be much more pleasant.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident, call Personal Injury Attorney Chelsie M. Lamie at 727-501-3464 for a free consultation. You can also learn more about Attorney Lamie by visiting www.chelsielamie.com.