We all know that driving can be dangerous. Although you can control what can be done behind your own wheel, unfortunately you can’t control what happens behind everyone else’s. The next best thing is to become a defensive driver.

A defensive driver is someone who remains alert and ready for whatever may happen while on the road. Wondering how to become a great defensive driver yourself? Practice the following five defensive driving techniques to help reduce your risk of an accident while driving.

1. Pay Attention to Your Surroundings

Many accidents could be avoided if drivers looked far ahead to anticipate any hazards. Look out for pedestrians, bicyclists and pets along the road. Check your mirrors frequently, keep your eyes moving and look 20-30 seconds ahead of you down the road to anticipate issues.

If another driver is driving aggressively, the best thing to do is to get out of their way.

2. Maintain a Proper Following Distance

The biggest chance of getting in an accident is with the vehicle in front of you. Leaving 3-4 seconds worth of space on the road ahead of you will help to establish and maintain a safe driving distance. In addition, this cushion of space will provide adequate time for you to brake to a stop if needed.

If following a big truck or motorcycle, or driving at nighttime or in bad weather, increase your following distance.

3. Remove Any Distractions

Driving can be difficult enough without distractions! Whether it be eating, checking your cell phone or applying makeup, any distraction that takes your attention from the task of driving should be eliminated.

Staying focused should be the only task you’re doing while behind the wheel. Enable a “do not disturb” setting on your cell phone to completely remove the temptation of checking your phone while driving.

Checking that text message can wait until you get to your destination!

4. Watch Your Speed!

Keep in mind that the posted speed limits apply to ideal driving conditions. It’s up to you as the driver to adjust your driving pattern to match the weather conditions.

Remember that the higher the speed, the harder your vehicle is to control if something goes wrong.

5. Depend Only On Yourself

Although it’s important to be considerate of others while driving, you need to look out for yourself first and foremost. Plan your driving patterns by anticipating the worse-case scenarios.

For example, before proceeding through a green light at an intersection, check that everyone has stopped that should be. Don’t assume that another driver will let you merge on the highway, and watch that cyclists don’t swerve out of their bike lane.

Driving while you’re tired prevents you from reacting quickly to potential problems. Rest up before you get behind the wheel!

Stay Safe While on the Roads

Being a defensive driver is the best way to avoid accidents and to stay safe while driving.

Check out some more of our other Safe Driving tips. You’ll be glad you did.