Picture this: After a driver hit the vehicle in front of him, breaking its taillight, he put his car in reverse so he could inspect the damage … and hit the bumper of the car behind him. Then, when he opened his door to exit his vehicle, he knocked down a passing cyclist! No – this isn’t an episode of Three Stooges. It’s a real claim scenario reported by How Stuff Works.
Let’s just say, these are the moments when you’re glad you’ve got auto insurance.
It means a lot to know you’re covered when things go wrong. If your car is broken into, trampled by a moose, stolen, hailed upon, or what have you, insurance can help you right what’s wrong. If you or someone else gets hurt, it can pay the bills. Even if all you’ve got is a basic liability policy, it’s good to know that you’re square with the law.
On the other hand, no one wants things to go wrong in the first place. Filing a claim is never really fun. A minor inconvenience is inevitable and in the worst-case scenario, it could cause your premiums to go up and you don’t want that. The best way to keep auto insurance cheap is to avoid accidents and claims altogether.
Bottom line, if you have a choice to get in a wreck or avoid one, we assume you’d prefer to avoid it!
This is where defensive driving comes in. There are steps you can take and habits you can form to lower the chances of collision, prevent a claim, and steer clear of harm to yourself, your property, and others. So, let’s see the run-down.
Defensive Driving Tips to Prevent a Claim
1. Look out
It’s easy to focus on what’s right in front of you. On a long drive, you can end up staring at the road five feet in front of you, or the next vehicle’s back bumper, even without any other distractions.
Being alert and aware of your surroundings means looking well in front of you: periodically scanning the road 30 feet, 50 feet, 100 feet ahead.
2. Look around
Last year, a study conducted by University of Toronto tracked drivers’ eye movements to understand why there are so many collisions between vehicles and pedestrians or cyclists. When turning, 11 of 19 drivers failed to look first at the area where a cyclist or pedestrian would likely be; drivers also failed to make over-the-shoulder checks to prevent cyclist collisions.
Takeaway: get in the habit of glancing here, there and everywhere as you drive, especially when turning or changing lanes.
3. Keep right
On a multi-lane road, if there’s an empty space to your right, you should be in it. The exception, of course, is when you’re passing. But many drivers develop the bad habit of hanging out in the left lane perpetually, which is a liability for everyone on the road. People who want to pass have no option but to do so on the right, putting them in danger if you suddenly decide to move over.
Point being, we’re safest on the road when everyone has the same expectations and follows the same rules; driving in the left lane adds a certain level of unpredictability to the situation, and that adds risk.
4. Stay back
You’ve probably heard that it’s important to keep a minimum of two seconds of following distance between you and the car in front of you. Three or four seconds is even better. If you’re driving in slippery conditions, following a rig that’s loaded up with luggage, or trailing a motorcycle, a larger following distance makes everyone safer.
What if someone is tailgating you? One response would be to move to the left lane if you can and let them pass. If a passing lane isn’t available, you could look for a place to pull off the road for a moment. Whatever you do, don’t react emotionally, even if their behavior is not okay with you. Their behavior is their responsibility, not yours.
5. Don’t assume
Have you ever been on the road at a tricky time – say, New Year’s Eve, or the Fourth of July – when the number of drunk drivers is likely to be higher than usual? As you move past a slightly swerving car, you’re watching them for any unexpected moves. Do they know you’re there? Are they going to try to go into your lane all of the sudden? You’re ready for anything, because you’re making no assumptions.
That no-assumptions attitude is the hallmark of a great defensive driver. You don’t need to be anxious or hyper-vigilant, just aware of how the drivers around you could behave, with some thought to how you’ll respond if they pull out a wildcard.
6. Don’t text
It’s sad to say this, but the use of mobile devices while driving remains a large problem in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration … one that caused more than 3,000 funerals in 2017 alone. Texting, taking photos, finding a song, picking up a call, or engaging in any other reason to touch your mobile device while you’re driving a car is simply inexcusable. It’s illegal, and it’s not worth the risk. Don’t be that person.
7. Drive sober
We all know that driving drunk is a no-no. Happily, many people have done a great job of changing behaviors and planning ahead to prevent DUI injuries and fatalities. Some normal strategies among college students, for example, include choosing a designated driver, arranging for another way home, or making sure your festivities conclude in a place where you can stay the night.
Now that recreational cannabis products are legal in some states, it’s worth stating that driving high is just as dangerous as driving drunk. The basic rule? Even a slight high is too high to drive. When in doubt, wait a day.
8. Take naps
Driving tired is a lot like driving under the influence, and it’s not worth the risk. If you’re sleepy, pull over and take a nap. Arriving late is better than not arriving at all.
How to Build Safe Driving Habits that Keep Your Auto Insurance Cheap
All of these tips require some effort to put in practice – it’s not enough to simply read them and move on. In order to build new habits, you’ll need to find ways to remind yourself. For example, every time you see a red traffic light, you might recall the need to look at sidewalks and crosswalks for cyclists and pedestrians. Every time you see a billboard, you might remind yourself to scan the road as far ahead as you can see. Building associations between common, everyday driving experiences and the habits you want to build is a great way to start.
And remember, the whole point of defensive driving is to understand the risks and protect yourself from them. Rather than slogging down the road with the assumption of safety, a defensive driver has a more active mindset, understanding that in order to prevent a crash, first you need to notice what leads to it.
So good luck, stay safe and keep your auto insurance cheap! Need help? So how cheap auto insurance can be by getting an online insurance quote from Jupiter Auto Insurance.
Jupiter provides industry-standard coverage, competitive auto insurance rates and fast online service. If you have a claim, we strive to make your experience as stress-free as possible using cutting edge tools to speed the process. You can count on us to advocate on your behalf and get you back on the road to “normal” quickly.
Want to learn more about controlling the cost of auto insurance? Check out this article.
Source: How Stuff Works