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Defensive Driving Techniques - It's About Space!

Nov 29, 2007
There are a lot of different aspects to defensive driving techniques, but a key feature is to create and maintain space around your vehicle. After all, it's difficult to come into contact with another vehicle, or some other object, if you constantly maintain adequate space around your vehicle.

USE THE "TWO-SECOND-PLUS RULE"

Use defensive driving techniques to create space around your vehicle. Never allow yourself to get "boxed in" by other vehicles. Adequate space creates enough reaction and braking time to help you avoid a collision.

One of the key aspects of creating space is to follow the vehicle in front of you at a distance of at LEAST two seconds. You achieve this by watching as the vehicle ahead passes some object such as a sign on the side of the road, or a mark on the road surface--then count "one-thousand-one, one-thousand-two." If you pass your chosen spot before reaching "two," you're too close and should slow down slightly, repeat the count and get the space you need!

Avoid being tailgated, or having other vehicles encroach on your space. Employ your defensive driving techniques by changing lanes, or adjusting your speed to enable tailgaters to pass.

Even following at two seconds distance, you must be alert to respond quickly, but you should have enough margin under normal circumstances.

Sometimes two seconds' space may not be sufficient. Leave more space when you can when following a vehicle different to yours, such as a motorcycle or truck. Motorcycles can usually stop faster than you can in a car, and large trucks impede your vision, which can cause you not to see hazards until too late. You need to monitor this aspect of your defensive driving technique to take into account the characteristics of the vehicles near you. If in doubt, it's better to allow a bit more space than normal.

Allow extra space when travelling on a loose, or slippery road surface as your stopping distance may be longer than normal.

Be aware of the vehicles next to your vehicle in other lanes and try to adjust your speed to keep your vehicle "in the open", with no vehicles on either side. Be very wary if you become surrounded by vehicles in a moving "pack". Use your defensive driving techniques to negotiate yourself into a space between packs, so you have clear lanes on both sides. (This is absolutely vital for motorcyclists!)

Even when you are stationary, such as at a red light, you need to leave adeqaute space between you and the vehicle in front. Leave enough room so you can escape if the car in front of you doesn't move, or if you need to move away from danger approaching from behind. Make sure you can see the rear tires of the vehicle in front of you where they touch the road. This will give you sufficient room to negotiate around when necessary.

When driving remember to use your defensive driving techniques to give yourself some space and avoid unwanted contact with other vehicles.
About the Author
Ray Hogan is co-owner of DefensiveDriverSense.com which provides quality resources on
defensive driving techniques,advanced driving and traffic safety programs.
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