The Keys to Low-risk Driving

As a low-risk driver, you can avoid crashes and reduce your risk behind the wheel.

Driving safe on a road can be a lifelong learning journey. Most driving programs are designed for teens to meet different learner needs, build experience, and map the learning programs to competency standards and other relevant criteria. If you’ve been out driving on the big city roads, you know that not everyone is playing by the rule — but most people think they do.

There is an element of careless driving, driving aggressively, being absent-minded. Some wander into another lane because they are on phone or not paying attention, others may surprise you or get you agitated by following too closely, improper or erratic lane changing, weave in and out of traffic before you know it and the list goes on.

Influence from alcohol, drugs and aggressive drivers are known road hazards, causing one-third of all traffic crashes. But negligent or distracted driving is becoming more of a problem as drivers are multitasking by talking on the phone, texting, checking messages, drinking or eating, as they drive.

We can’t control or predict the actions of other drivers on the road but investing in a structured and defensive driving skills program can help you avoid the dangers caused by other people’s actions and bad driving. Clearly, the experience gained as a driver transition to full license will affect his/her ongoing risk management, hazard assessment and driving safety.

Skills That Put You in Control
Before you get on a pilot seat, here are some tips to help you stay in control:

Begin with mindfulness and stay focused. Leave your thoughts and conflicts behind the door before you step into your car. Take 3 deep breaths to empty your mind from unwanted thoughts and be fully present in the moment. Driving is primarily a thinking task, and you have a lot of things to think about when you’re behind the wheel: road conditions, your speed and position, observing traffic laws, signs, signals, road markings, following directions, being aware of the cars around you, checking your mirrors — the list goes on. Having a free mind with help you stay focused on driving — and only driving — is critical to safe driving.
Everyone who uses roads to drive, ride or walk has a responsibility to share the road with others. By respecting the needs of all road users, you can help make roads safer for everyone.
Avoid any distractions, such as mobile phone, drinking or eating, looking away for extended period make a driver less able to see potential problems and properly react to them. It’s not just teen drivers who are at fault: People who have been driving for a while can get overconfident in their driving abilities and let their driving skills get sloppy. All drivers need to remind themselves to stay focused.

Plan Ahead. Plan your trip before you step out and avoid leaving last minute.  Impatience and urgency, both are contributing risk factors to potential crash risk. Keep a safe distance of three seconds behind the vehicle ahead. Be sure you are in the proper lane well in advance of your exit or turning locations. This will help you avoid making quick and dangerous lane changes. 
Stay alert. Being alert (not sleepy or distracted) allows you to react quickly to potential hazards. Two types of Hazards should be recognized by a continuous process of watching your surroundings and then taking actions to reduce risks. Fixed hazards are permanent conditions such as restricted vision areas such as curves, hills and hidden driveways, intersections and merging whereas variable hazards changes throughout the day including pedestrians, school children and changing weather conditions. A driver’s reaction time and good judgment can prove positive. Driving is never risk-free. A good driver has good observation, speed management and road positioning skills.

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