Commuter Crossing: Be a defensive driver

Commuter Crossing Color

Graphic by Kathryn Messinger

While it is important to drive for yourself on the road, it is even more important to drive for other people. There will always be that one guy whose tail lights are out, who doesn’t turn his headlights on in the rain or who has a 2×4 sticking out of his truck without a red ribbon. Be a safe driver and practice these defensive driving techniques.

Be alert – Do not ever drive while drowsy or tired. Mythbusters proved that driving tired is equivalent to driving impaired. Wake up a few minutes earlier to make yourself breakfast or a cup of coffee. Actually doing something in the morning will stimulate your brain.

Stay focused – Concentrate on the road with your hands in the 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock position. New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission suggests you move your eyes every few seconds from each of your mirrors to the traffic ahead of you. This will help you be prepared to react and help you avoid highway hypnosis on long drives.

Follow the three-second rule – Following the three-second rule will help you determine a safe following distance. Find a stationary object ahead of you, like a speed limit sign. When the car in front of you passes it, count out three seconds. If you pass the same object before you finish counting, you are probably not at a safe following distance.

Go with the flow – Most accidents happen when cars are traveling too fast and do not have time to react to their surroundings. While it is important to follow the speed limit at all times, sometimes you have to go with the flow of traffic on highways. Driving too slow can also be dangerous.

Make yourself visible – Accidents also happen because a driver didn’t see the other car. Always be sure to use turn signals and headlights. Be sure to check brake lights and headlights for safety and to avoid getting a ticket.

While these are only a few of the ways to stay safe on the road, they are very helpful. Wearing your seat belt and avoiding distractions, like using cellphones or eating, are also good defensive driving techniques.

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