DeAnn Owens
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Don’t Be So Defensive — Unless You’re Driving

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My dad constantly reminded me when he was teaching me to drive that I needed to “worry about the other guy.” In other words, I needed to be a defensive driver. And, although his message has long been ingrained into my driving habits, I was frustratingly reminded of his words of wisdom this past weekend when while in the car with my teenage son, a driver who had no clue that I was in her blind spot—she didn’t even look—tried to get into my lane upon realizing she was in a turn only lane in downtown Dayton. Yes, I let her into my lane sans a collision and curse words.

Her action led me to then talk (aka lecture to my son’s ears) about how driving is all about paying attention to and being aware of other drivers because as my fellow motorist demonstrated, most drivers only look out for themselves, and that mentality can cause an accident.

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The experts at agree that practicing defensive driving skills such as staying focused—only on driving—is essential for safe driving. No texting, eating, talking on the phone when behind the wheel; focus only on the task at hand—driving.

The only way to have quick reflexes and be alert as a defensive driver is to drive when not under the influence of drugs or alcohol or sleep deprivation. According to the experts, driving while drowsy “is one of the leading causes of crashes.”

Being aware of other drivers and what they might do is at the core of defensive driving.

“Anticipating what another driver might do and making the appropriate adjustment helps reduce your risk,” according to the experts. “Be aware of your surroundings—pay attention. Check your mirrors frequently and scan conditions 20 to 30 seconds ahead of you. Keep your eyes moving. Also, keep an eye on pedestrians, bicyclists, and pets along the road.”

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Also, make sure you’re not guilty of the distracted and aggressive driving habits that you hate in other drivers, including speeding.

“Leave plenty of space between you and the car in front. Always lock your doors and wear your seatbelt to protect you from being thrown from the car in a crash,” advise the experts. While looking out for the other guy, make sure you look out for your own safety, and “plan your movements anticipating the worst-case scenario.”

Being alert, focused, and on the defensive is a good way to keep yourself and fellow motorists safe on the road.

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