It's never offensive to be a defensive driver

Regardless of the time of year or the road conditions, there is always some degree of risk that comes with driving the streets of Phoenix. That's even before you take all the other drivers into account. Speeding drivers aggressively hurrying into work, cutting off other cars and bending -- or breaking -- traffic laws, creates a lot to worry about, no matter how skilled you yourself are at safe driving practices.

The good news is, there's something you can do behind the wheel to help increase your safety and that of your passengers, and it's called driving defensively. Defensive driving is a set of tactics you can adopt that may put you ahead of the curve when it comes to road safety.

Becoming a defensive driver

Defensive driving is about much more than immediate reactions mid-traffic. It's a set of habits that, if you develop by mentally preparing ahead of time, could prevent motor vehicle accidents and even potentially save lives. Some basic defensive driving techniques include:

  • Planning ahead
  • Scanning your surroundings
  • Never letting yourself become distracted
  • Braking early

Thinking about what you are likely to face on the road before you even turn on your car can go a long way toward safety. Checking the weather to prepare for poor visibility or slippery roads, or leaving early because of traffic delays so you won't feel the need to speed are just a few examples. Similarly, continually surveying your environment and checking your mirrors can help you anticipate and thus respond quickly to sudden hazards, potentially avoiding a collision caused by a less-careful driver.

To this end, it's critical to avoid distractions while driving. The best way to prevent a wreck is to always pay complete attention by keeping your eyes on the road and on the cars around you. Leaving a little more extra room than you believe is strictly necessary between yourself and the vehicle in front of you and slowing down a bit sooner and more gradually -- especially when roads are slippery -- will give both you and the vehicles around you more time to respond in an emergency.

Avoid going on the offensive

The tactic that may seem the most obvious in theory but feels the most difficult in practice is to never go on the offensive. It can be easy to lose your temper and let the situation get out of control when another driver's poor behavior or dangerous driving endangers you or your family on the road. However, road rage can escalate very quickly, and remaining calm is always the safest course, even -- or especially -- when the other driver is in the wrong.

Professional recourse

No matter how defensively you drive, you can't always prevent every accident. Other drivers often act carelessly, selfishly, aggressively or even -- let's face it -- downright stupidly, and it only takes a few seconds for a tragedy to occur. If, despite your defensive driving techniques, you or a family member suffers significant injury or worse because of another driver's recklessness, there are professionals in Arizona who have experience in fighting for compensation after unfortunate incidents of this type, and their guidance and support can prove invaluable in your battle for justice.

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