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Defensive Driving – How You Can Prevent Auto Collisions and Save Money Too

Colorado lawyer R. Mack Babcock and associates want to prevent accidents before they occur by exercising defensive driving techniques

Our primary duty at the Babcock Law Firm is to firmly represent the interests, and protect the rights of, anyone injured due to another party's mistake or negligence. Part of fulfilling this mission involves helping Coloradoans understand ways they can reduce the chance of an accident occurring, be it at work or behind the wheel.

The National Safety Council, along with the standard Safe Practices for Motor Vehicle Operations, defines defensive driving as "driving to save lives, time, and money, in spite of the conditions around you and the actions of others."

"Anticipation" is another word to describe defensive driving – understanding the risks of an accident occurring and taking steps to mitigate those risks can be considered defensive driving.

While you may have certainly heard the term, few understand its entirety and how adopting it into your driving habits can not only save lives, but save you a good bit of money over the long-term.

Continue reading for a few tips on how you can practice defensive driving, including a few special considerations for safe traveling on Colorado's highways and byways.

Some general rules for defensive driving

Below are a few general rules of safe, defensive driving to consider, regardless of where you happen to be.

Wear your seatbeltIf a collision does occur, and they do regardless of how many preventative measures you take, wearing your seatbelt dramatically reduces the risk of serious injury or fatality. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates 11,000 lives are saved each year just by simply wearing a seatbelt.

Allow a 2-second cushion for following a vehicle – If you're driving on I-25 or I-70 around Denver, you're likely going to be one of many cars on the road, all going different speeds in different lanes. If you're traveling on a crowded highway, allow for a 2-second cushion under normal conditions – 3-4 seconds in rain/snow, or if you're following a motorcycle or semi-truck.

One way to judge if you're close enough is to pick a stationary object – like a road sign – ahead of the vehicle you're following. Once they pass, count the number of seconds (i.e. "1-1000, 2-1000" or "1-Mississippi, 2-Mississippi") until you pass.

Don't speedThe faster you're traveling, the higher the chance of you being in a collision - it's a simple, verifiable fact. NHTSA statistics show that nearly a third of all fatal crashes in 2008 involved speeding. The best policy is drive the posted speed limit, or less if conditions are not ideal.

Remain calm when dealing with aggressive drivers Some drivers on the road just have a blatant disregard for the safety of other drivers, pedestrians, etc. When someone is tailgating you or crossing into your lane, it's easy to get angry. Remaining calm though and refraining from any gestures or games dramatically reduces the chance of a collision.

If someone is driving erratically, the best thing to do is get their tag number and contact the Colorado State Patrol or the local police.

Keeping your cool and acting logically in tough driving situations is one of the major pillars of defensive driving and preventing auto collisions.

Keep your focus on the roadWe spend a lot of time discussing distracted driving and its impacts in auto collisions. Keeping all of your focus on the road, and pulling over for that phone call, to put on makeup, eat, or even read the paper, is also a critical factor in driving defensively and preventing accidents.

Keep brakes, air bags and traction devices well maintained – Many cars today include features like traction control that are aimed at preventing accidents. Also, your brakes are perhaps one of the most critical parts on your vehicle. Be sure you have them changed per the manufacturer's guidelines, or immediately if you begin noticing extensive wear.

Defensive driving in Colorado – safely navigating the Centennial State

In the prior section, we outlined a few of the general ways you can drive defensively, whether you're in L.A., London or La Jara.

However, there are a few special considerations you should factor in when driving in Colorado. While beautiful, some of our state's roads present extra hazards to drivers. Continue reading below for some of these special risks, as well as ways to mitigate them.

Mountain roads – take extra caution – Colorado and the Rocky Mountains have some impressive vistas indeed. When you're behind the wheel though, this can be really dangerous. If you're traveling on a mountain road in the high country, you should:

  • Pay careful attention to signs indicating a curve
  • Use a lower gear when going downhill – DO NOT coast down a hill in neutral
  • Do NOT attempt to pass when approaching a blind curve

Snow/ice conditions - Snow is the lifeblood of many towns like Aspen, Durango and others. If you're driving in snow or ice conditions though, you need to take extra caution. Allow more time to slow down, and keep windows and windshields clear. And when you're trying to slow down, pump your brakes rather than jam them.

Also, don't take your 4-wheel drive for granted. Plenty of 4WD car, truck and SUV drivers have misjudged what their vehicles could do, and ended up running off the road or colliding with another driver.

Rural/Farm Country – The eastern part of our state in places like Alamosa and Yuma is pretty flat, and mostly farmland. While it may be easy to think defensive driving isn't necessary, you should be on the lookout for slow-moving tractors, wandering livestock, poorly marked intersections and roads without a shoulder.

In a perfect world, there would be no accidents whatsoever. The reality is they do occur, no matter how careful or good of a driver you are.

Following these tips, and more, can dramatically reduce the risk of a collision though. Many car insurance companies offer discounts for completing a defensive driving certification, which can save you money, especially over the long-term.

We of course don't want an auto collision to occur in the first place. But if an accident does occur, we want to be here to help you assess your options and represent your interests. Please contact Denver-based auto collision attorneys at the Babcock Law Firm to discuss your individual case today.

Continue reading these related articles for more information…

**NOTE – this article and all content at Injurylawcolorado.com is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice

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