10 Essential Tips for Defensive Driving – Stay Safe on the Road
Defensive driving is an essential part of our lives. However, with an increase in the number of cars on the road, it’s important to know what distracted driving is and practice defensive driving techniques. Defensive driving is all about anticipating potential hazards and avoiding accidents on the road. By mastering defensive driving, you can protect yourself and other drivers from harm, and make the roads a safer place for everyone.
Here are 10 essential tips for defensive driving in Australia
Keep a safe distance
One of the most important defensive driving techniques is maintaining a safe distance from the car in front of you. The recommended safe following distance in Australia is at least two seconds. In case of wet or slippery roads, it’s best to increase the distance to three seconds.
safe following distance of at least two seconds in dry and wet weather conditions for a car
heavy vehicle in dry and wet weather conditions when travelling at these speeds
Note: The stopping distances in the table are approximate and may vary depending on the type and condition of the vehicle, road conditions, and driver reaction time. It’s important to note that heavy vehicles require a longer stopping distance due to their weight and size, and drivers of heavy vehicles should adjust their driving accordingly.
2. Scan the road ahead
Always keep an eye on the road ahead and scan for potential hazards such as animals, pedestrians, or debris on the road. In Australia, it’s common to see kangaroos, emus, or other animals on the road, especially in rural areas. Stay alert and slow down when you spot any potential hazards. local city environments and the types of hazards that drivers might encounter:
- Intersection hazards: When approaching an intersection, scan for any hazards such as other cars, pedestrians, or cyclists. Check for any signs or signals and make sure to obey them. In Australia, some intersections may have different types of traffic signals, such as flashing yellow lights or red and yellow turning arrows.
- Pedestrian hazards: Watch for pedestrians crossing the road, especially near schools or shopping centers. In Australia, pedestrians have the right of way in many situations, so it’s important to be aware of them and give them plenty of space.
- Cyclist hazards: Keep an eye out for cyclists sharing the road with you. In Australia, cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers, and drivers should give them enough space when passing.
- Parking hazards: Look for parked cars on the side of the road or in parking lots. Be aware of car doors opening unexpectedly or cars pulling out of parking spaces.
- Road works hazards: Scan ahead for any road works or construction zones. In Australia, road works zones may have reduced speed limits, detours, or traffic control devices that drivers need to obey.
- Emergency vehicle hazards: Watch for any emergency vehicles such as police cars, ambulances, or fire trucks. In Australia, drivers are required by law to give way to emergency vehicles with lights and sirens on.
- Weather hazards: Be aware of any weather hazards such as rain, fog, or dust. In Australia, weather conditions can change quickly, especially during summer storms. Slow down and increase your following distance in wet or slippery conditions.
By scanning ahead for these hazards in local city environments, drivers can be prepared and avoid potential accidents on the road. It’s important to always prioritize safety and practice defensive driving techniques.
3. Use your mirrors
Always check your mirrors before changing lanes, making a turn, or braking. It’s important to be aware of the vehicles around you to avoid accidents. In Australia, we drive on the left side of the road, so it’s essential to check your left-hand side mirror before making a left turn.
4. Indicate your intentions
Use your turn signals to indicate your intentions to other drivers on the road. It’s important to signal well in advance to give other drivers enough time to react. In Australia, it’s illegal not to indicate when changing lanes or turning.
5. Obey traffic laws
Follow all traffic laws, including speed limits, traffic signals, and signs. In Australia, the speed limit varies depending on the type of road and location. Always obey the speed limit, especially in school zones or residential areas. Also, be aware of the different types of road signs, such as stop signs, giveaway signs, and roundabouts.
6. Avoid distractions
Avoid any distractions while driving, such as using your phone, eating, or applying makeup. In Australia, it’s illegal to use your phone while driving, even if you’re stopped at traffic lights. Always keep your focus on the road and be aware of your surroundings.
Distracted Driving Statistics in Australia
- The Royal Automobile Club of Queensland (RACQ) found that almost 90% of surveyed drivers admitted to engaging in distracting activities while driving, such as using a mobile phone or eating while behind the wheel. Read this RACQ article on distracted driving
These statistics highlight the dangers of distracted driving and the need for drivers to remain focused and attentive while on the road.
7. Stay alert
Stay alert and focused on the road at all times. Avoid driving when you’re tired, drowsy, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In Australia, it’s illegal to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and severe penalties apply.
8. Adjust to weather conditions
Adjust your driving to weather conditions, such as rain, fog, or dust. In Australia, the weather can change quickly, so it’s important to be prepared for all conditions. Always slow down and increase your following distance in wet or slippery conditions.
9. Be prepared for emergencies
Keep an emergency kit in your car, including a first-aid kit, water, food, and a torch. In Australia, you may encounter long distances between towns, so it’s important to be prepared in case of a breakdown or emergency.
10. Take a defensive driving course
Consider taking a defensive driving course to improve your skills and knowledge. In Australia, several accredited driving schools offer defensive driving courses that can teach you advanced driving techniques, such as skid control and evasive manoeuvrers.
In conclusion, defensive driving is all about being proactive and anticipating potential hazards on the road. By following these 10 essential tips, you can become a safer and more responsible driver in Australia. Remember to always prioritise safety and make defensive driving a habit every time you’re on the road.