How do distracted drivers change the game for you as a driver?
With distracted driving levels at an all-time high, you are tasked with not only the safe operation of your vehicle, but also being full aware of others that may not be dedicating their full attention to their driving.
Here are some strategies to help you stay safe even with the presence of distracted drivers on the road. Tip number one is to look ahead of the vehicle in front of you. You want to know what the traffic up ahead is doing and not be focused just the brake lights of the vehicle in front of you. The reason is if the driver in front of you is distracted with say texting, they may not realize a hazard up ahead or respond late. So you want to keep a good following distance from the car in front of you and start slowing down if you see cars further up ahead braking.
Another tip is to keep clear of other vehicle blind spots. So in another video we talked about where the blind spots of a vehicle are and how there can be a vehicle traveling beside your vehicle and you would not be able to see them just by looking into your side mirrors. For this reason, when approaching vehicles traveling in the next lane over, you’ll want to avoid unnecessarily staying in their blind spot for too long.
Another tip is to scan before going through an intersection. Distracted drivers can possibly fail to recognize the change of light and can run a red light or a stop sign. So it is very important to scan left, centre, and right before going through any intersection even if you do have a green light.
The same concept of scanning applies to making turns as well. A driver of an oncoming cars may not realize that you’re in the middle of the intersection waiting to make a left turn. If light goes from yellow to red and they are still coming through, it is your responsibility to not cut in front of a vehicle that’s running a red light. Sometimes it’s not other drivers that are distracted but rather pedestrians crossing a crosswalk. They can walk across when there is a do not walk sign present, so again it is your responsibility to scan and spot the distracted road users.
Now let’s say you’re waiting at an intersection for a red light. Be on the lookout for vehicles approaching from behind. Distracted drivers can sometimes fail to see the light ahead and may not have enough time to react. So when you see a vehicle approaching from behind in your rear view mirror, gauge their speed. Are they slowing down or not? Check your side mirror and blind spots to see if you have room in the lane beside you if you need to get out of the way of a collision. This why you want to have a good stopping distance when coming up to a vehicle stopped at a light, in case you need to give up some of your space cushion for the vehicle approaching or to change your lane in case of an emergency.
When traveling down a road with parked cars, check the wheels of the vehicles to see if anyone is showing signs of pulling away. Have your hand near the horn in case you need to warn drivers. Similarly in a parking lot, check for back up lights to see if anyone is about to pull out of their stall.
So you can see, hazards can come from every direction. Distracted drivers can make maneuvers without checking to see if it’s safe first so you need to be more aware of drivers and always observing your surroundings to keep you and your passengers safe. It’s this type of defensive driving that will keep you one step ahead of distracted drivers.
I hope you found this video useful. If you did, feel free to comment, like or subscribe to videos on YouTube. In addition, we offer an online video training course on our website at www.zula.ca. In that course we show you actual footage of distracted drivers on the road and how we deal with them. Be sure to check it out. Also, it’s one thing for me to stand here and talk to you about distracted driving, it’s another for you to get out there with your driving instructor or your co-ed driver and encounter driving scenarios where other drivers are not fully paying attention. Thank you and I hope to see you in another video soon!