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Driving a car can induce a wonderful sense of freedom. It can take you anywhere you need to go. But, the road can also be a treacherous place. While there are no guarantees in this world and you cannot control what other people do, learning some defensive driving strategies can make you better prepared for the dangers other drivers may pose, which increases the odds of safe travels.

Drive with ‘’High Eyes’’

When we are driving, we tend to become fixated on the car directly in front of us; we brake when they brake, we speed up when they speed up, etc…Meanwhile, there is a lot more going on around us that we should be paying attention to. You want to drive with ‘’high eyes’’, a racecar term that means focusing on the horizon. By paying attention to the road horizon, you will be seeing the whole traffic pattern.

Yield

Driving gives rise to lots of potential stressors that can make us feel agitated, angry and aggressive—none of these are good emotions when we are operating a vehicle and can lead us to do things that can put us in danger in the name of ego. How many times have you had the right of way but someone else decided they were going to go? How many times have you gotten angry and instead of yielding, insisted on going anyway because you had the right of way? We cannot assume that other drivers are going to follow the rules; in these instances, just yield and let them go, even if it is supposed to be the other way around.

Keep Lane Changes to a Minimum

If you are just driving happily along in your own lane at the speed limit, you are in a much safer situation than someone who is constantly switching lanes, because they cannot tolerate having a vehicle in front of them slowing them down the slightest. By sticking to one lane as much as you can, you are insulating yourself from a lot of potential problems.

Maintain Proper Distance from Vehicles in Front of You

Accidents can take many forms with slamming into the car in front of you topping the list. But, you can minimize this risk by leaving a safe distance between you and the vehicles in front of you. Provided the weather conditions are normal, you should leave a buffer of at least three to four seconds to account for sudden stops and other maneuvers by the vehicle in front of you. You should add an extra second of following time for conditions that increase dangers such as rain, fog, or driving behind a large truck.

Do Not Assume

When it comes to defensive driving, you never want to assume that other drivers are going to follow the rules. Even if the light is red, double-check that no one is coming anyway. If you have the right of way, do not assume the other car is going to let you in. Just because a car does not have their blinker on does not mean they have no intentions of changing lanes. It is nice to think that everyone will follow the rules or is paying 100 percent attention to the road but not everyone is.

Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who has written about various automotive topics ranging from insurance to safe driving tips. If you are in the market for Canadian car insurance, compare coverages at Kanetix from multiple carriers.