While many people know, in theory, that they should be “driving defensively,” most people generally don’t know what that means in practice. (Most importantly, driving defensively is quite different from acting defensively.) The general purpose of defensive driving is to avoid accidents – to drive as if the other drivers on the road will be frequently making mistakes and breaking the law.
Defensive driving takes maturity and patience. Defensive drivers do not make choices on the road simply because they have the right or because the law is on their side; defensive drivers consider the potential dangers nearby and actively try to avoid conflict with other automobiles.
For example, if you needed to change lanes but saw a car behind you that was and speeding and swerving through traffic, you would simply wait before you change lanes. Because the driver in the other car is making poor choices, you are driving defensively when you wait for the other driver to pass.
Another example – keep a safe distance between you and the car in front of you. By giving yourself enough room if the other car suddenly stops, you are actively avoiding the potential accident.
Defensive driving becomes especially important if you have been in an accident. If you regularly practice defensive driving techniques, then you will be able to defend your choices if you are ever in an accident. The driver who is to blame for an accident takes on the burden of paying for damage – either out of their insurance policy or out of their own pocket. If you can explain to a police officer, judge, or your own lawyer as to how you tried to avoid the accident, you will be less likely to pay for damages.
If you have been in an accident, contact a lawyer. A good lawyer will help you identify your defensive driving choices and shift as much blame as possible to the other driver.