Avoiding a collision is essential when on the road. You cannot count on other people to drive carefully or devote their full attention to the road. Driving safe is not enough, and you need to drive defensively to avoid becoming the victim of a careless driver.
Do you know the five key principles of defensive driving? About 70 years ago, a company that trains crash-avoidance to fleet drivers developed the Smith System of Defensive Driving. Their Smiths 5 Keys® are also known as the five key principles of defensive driving.
What Are the Smith5Keys®?
These keys focus on creating:
- Enough space for you to steer away from a dangerous situation
- Visibility so that you can notice potential problems early
- Sufficient time to respond to safety threats on the road
Key #1 Involves Looking Further Ahead
Most drivers keep their attention on what is happening close to their car. Key 1 “Aim High in Steering” teaches people to focus on what is going on about 15 seconds from where they are currently. With this increased distance, the brain will have time to:
- Process the situation
- Identify potential issues
- Choose appropriate evasive actions
Key #2 Is About Constantly Assessing Your Surroundings
Many people only look straight ahead at the road and neglect what is happening on their sides and behind them. The Smith system recommends that all drivers check their mirrors frequently. Every five to eight seconds, a driver should look in at least one side or rearview mirror. This practice also helps keep the driver alert and awake.
Tailgating blocks distance visibility and reduces response time, so one should stay far enough behind other vehicles to see far down the road. Avoid getting distracted by unimportant details that could disrupt the constant scanning of your surroundings.
Key #3 Addresses Distractions
Look for other drivers who appear to be distracted, for instance, reading text messages on a cell phone or turning their heads sideways to talk to passengers. If someone like this is right behind your car, try to change lanes or take another action, so this vehicle is no longer risking your safety.
It only takes a moment for the distracted driver behind you to cause a rear-end collision. The main cause of car accidents is driver distraction, so you must pay close attention to others on the road.
If you find yourself getting distracted by people or things in your car, take action to eliminate the issue before you find yourself in a crash. You can tell your passengers to behave. Toss your phone in the console or in another place you cannot see when at the wheel. Set your radio station and GPS before putting your car in motion.
Key #4 Always Have a Plan B
Whenever possible, avoid getting pinned in on all sides in traffic. When you get stuck in a traffic jam, try to stay out of the blind spots of other vehicles, particularly tall ones, like:
- Large SUVs
Sometimes, the safest option is to switch to a “slower” lane with fewer cars and trucks. If someone tailgates you, try to change lanes at the earliest safe opportunity. You might keep pace with the traffic ahead of you, but some people are chronic tailgaters. According to the Smith System, your risk of an accident is high when someone drives too closely behind your vehicle.
Key #5 Is About Staying Visible
Some days, you might wonder if your car is invisible because other drivers seem not to see you. Depending on the weather, road conditions, and conduct of other drivers, you might need to:
- Drive with your lights on
- Use your horn
- Flash your headlights or hazard lights
The best way to make sure that other drivers see you is to always be on the lookout for potentially dangerous situations. Notice when another car starts to drift toward your lane or seems to change lanes without looking. It is best to guard your safety rather than worry that another driver will get upset by a tap of a horn.
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What Should You Do if You or a Close Relative Got Injured in a Collision?
You will likely have gotten professional medical attention for your wounds already before reading this blog article. Be sure to follow through on your prescribed treatment so that the at-fault driver cannot argue that you would have healed better by completing what your doctor recommended.
After getting the initial medical care, you will want to protect your legal rights. When recuperating from injuries, you should not have to get badgered by a claims adjuster pressuring you to accept pennies on the dollar.
You Could Secure Damages for Your Car Accident-Related Losses
Knowing the five principles of defensive driving can help you while on the road. However, if you got injured or lost a loved one in a car accident, we can help you. You might qualify for compensation from the at-fault party. You can call in the Strong Arm of Loncar Lyon Jenkins. Call us today at (877) 239-4878 for a free consultation.
We can discuss how much you should ask for pain and suffering for your car accident, as well as holding accountable parties responsible for all losses, like medical costs.