Here are 12 defensive driving tips you can use everyday to make driving safer. Some are common sense tips, and others are... well, you will have to read the list to find out what they are.
Never assume the other driver sees you. Whether you are making a turn, changing lanes, pulling out into traffic, or what ever, never assume drivers in oncoming traffic see you or will react to your maneuver. They may be distracted, intoxicated, texting, in a mental fog or agitated about something. This is especially important if your are driving a small car or riding a motorcycle or bicycle. So watch out for Distracted Drivers!
Never trust a turn signal. How many times do you see vehicles driving down the road with the turn signal on, but they never change lanes or make a turn? The offender is often an old geezer driving a Buick who probably can't hear the turn signal blinking. I've seen teenage drivers do the same thing because the music blaring from the speakers inside their car is so loud. My advice is do NOT pull out in front of these people assuming they are going to turn, and do NOT try to pass them on the side their turn signal is flashing.
Always assume the other driver is a moron. You pull up to a four-way stop a few seconds before another vehicle to your left or right. Who goes first? You should go first because you got there first, stopped first and have been waiting the longest. But many drivers apparently have not learned this rule of driving courtesy and may charge ahead totally oblivious to others who might be in their way.
Leave yourself some maneuvering room when stopping behind another vehicle. When traffic stops, don't get right up on the bumper of the vehicle ahead of you. If you are on a four lane street, the car ahead of you may be waiting to turn, leaving you trapped until they can make their turn. Even if the vehicle ahead of you is apparently going straight, driver's have been known to suddenly change their minds. Engines have also been known to stall. Leave a car length so you can pull around the vehicle ahead of you if the need arises. And be sure to check your rear view mirrors before pulling around a vehicle to make sure another vehicle isn't doing the same thing behind you!
Never try to beat a red light to save time. Nobody likes to waste time sitting at a stop light. Running a red light could cost you a lot more than some lost time. If a cop see you blow a red light, or a red light camera takes your photo, it will cost you $100 to $150! And if you are unlucky enough to have a wreck running a red light, it could cost you a lot more -- possibly even your life! And if you get a moving violation, you may have to attend a traffic school.
Be a "Heads Up" driver. As your speed increases, look further down the road. Too many drivers get tunnel vision following the vehicle ahead of them, and do not look far enough ahead to get the big picture of what traffic is doing. It is hard to see around a big SUV or a truck, so don't follow too closely.
Don't hurry. Be happy! Urban driving can be a challenge, especially during rush hour when everybody is rushing to get to work or rushing to get home. Either way, people can get really pissed if you don't get out of their way. It's the NASCAR mentality that gets their undies in a bind. Rush hour is not a race, though it may seem that way. So relax, go with the flow and arrive home happy. Listen to soft rock, religious music or classical music to soothe the soul. Don't listen to hard rock, jangling music, chatter radio (especially if the topic they are blathering about presses your hot buttons). Life is a journey, enjoy the ride.
Give the other driver a break. Be the nice guy who allows another driver pull out of a driveway or side street into heavy traffic. Pull over into the left lane on a four-lane highway or interstate is somebody is trying to merge from the right. Don't be a jerk. Be nice and be sure to wave. Your good deed will be paid back sooner or later.
Don't flip off other drivers. They may be packing heat (carrying a gun!). If somebody cuts you off in traffic or makes a driving blunder, a toot on your horn should suffice (the duration of which may increase with the severity of the offense). Giving some idiot the finger is a good way to encourage more obnoxious behavior. That, in turn, may start a game of "getting even" which can lead to road rage, people trying to run other people off the road or punch each other out. It's not worth it. See rule #3.
Be Polite. Stay Right. And Step on the Gas when you Pass. One of my personal pet peeves is drivers (especially truck drivers) who get in the left lane on a four lane highway or interstate (which is supposed to be the PASSING lane) then poke along blocking others who might want to pass. Big trucks are notorious for doing this. They will roll along for mile after mile, two abreast blocking traffic, not daring to adjust their cruise control slightly for fear they might use an extra drop or two of diesel fuel. In Germany, SLOWER drivers stay to the RIGHT and FASTER drivers stay to the LEFT And when a faster driver comes up behind you and flashes their high beams, it means "Pull over, I want to pass you." Here, if somebody comes up fast behind you and flashes their headlights, they usually get the finger in the rear view mirror. That's why we don't have autobahn highways with no speed limits. Too many morons behind the wheel.
Go Right! UPS says it saves a ton of fuel as well as delivery time by avoiding LEFT turns. Your odds of being rear ended or having an accident in the middle of an intersection are greatly reduced by turning RIGHT as much as possible.
Give Truckers a Break, not the Brakes. Big semi-trucks are HEAVY, with some hauling loads of 60,000 to 80,000 lbs. They cannot stop on a dime, or a quarter, or a hundred dollar bill. So do not cut them off in traffic, or zip into the lane ahead of them and suddenly hit your brakes. The truck will run over you like a steam roller, and it will be a closed casket funeral.