Defensive driving is important, and these surprisingly small acts can go a long way when it comes to being a safe driver. Being a safe driver can help you get cheap car insurance, avoid accidents, and most importantly - save you and your family's life. If you ask most people to name a few defensive driving techniques, however, many drivers draw a blank. To help you brush up on your defensive driving, we've put together a list of our top four tips that might come as a little surprise.
1. Adjust your mirrors correctly
Before you even turn the car on, take a look in your side mirrors. Can you see your car? If you can - as most side mirrors are adjusted - you're doing it wrong, according to Car and Driver. In 1995, a paper was published that demonstrated how a car's blind spots could be completely eliminated simply by turning the side mirrors out far enough that they just barely overlapped with the center mirror. Despite this, drivers continue to angle their mirrors inward.
Many drivers are used to the old angle and find that they are, at first, disoriented by not being able to see the back of their cars in their side mirrors. While this adjustment takes a little getting used to, it is absolutely safer than turning your head all the way around to check your blind spot.
2. Keep your headlights on
According to Michigan.gov, driving with your headlights on at all times - even during the day - reduces your chances of being involved in a collision by approximately 32 percent.
Cars in some countries, like Canada, are required to include daytime running lights. More and more now, new cars in the U.S. are including these lights as well. If you're not lucky enough to have a model that includes this feature, you'll have to manually switch your headlights on to decrease your risk of an accident and a general auto insurance claim.
3. Maintain speed during a blowout
If you've ever experienced a blowout, you know how scary it can be. Chances are, your gut reaction is to slam on the brakes. According to Cracked.com, this is not the correct solution. When a tire blows out, it acts like an anchor, slowing down that part of your car. Slamming on the brakes will let that anchor catch, meaning that at high speeds you will spin out. Instead, you should gently pump the gas for a few seconds before turning into the blowout and letting the car come to a natural stop.
4. Obey the 2, 4 and 10 second gap rules
Most people grew up learning that when driving, they should leave a certain number of car lengths between their car and the car in front of them.The problem is, people are not very good at judging car lengths from within a vehicle. Instead, Drive and Stay Alive, Inc. (DSA) recommends that drivers obey the 2, 4 and 10 second gap rule. This rule mandates that, on a dry, daytime road, your car should be at least two seconds behind the car in front of you. To calculate this, choose a fixed point - like a bush or a tree - and start counting when the car in front of you passes that point. If you pass the same point before you get to "two-Mississippi," you should slow down and let the car ahead of you gain space. In rainy conditions, this gap should grow to four seconds, and in the snow or ice - ten seconds.
There's a lot more to being a safe driver, but if you follow these four tips you will have a better chance of avoiding an accident and filing an auto claim. Plus, you can potentially take advantage of your insurance company's safe driving discount.