Safety First: 5 Essential Principles of Defensive Driving


Thousands of vehicle accidents took place on Nebraska’s roadways in 2017 according to reports from the Nebraska Highway Transportation Safety Administration. According to a recent report from the website, just over 200 accident fatalities took place across the state in 2017, the last year for which information has been made available.

Defensive Driving for Motorists

Certain aspects play a role in driving defensively for America’s motorists. First off, driving based on other motorists’ behaviors plays a role in keeping yourself safe when sharing the roadway with other drivers. Developing the right mix of defensive and aggressive driving helps thwart danger from others on the road as well.

1) Ongoing Maintenance

Keeping your vehicle road-ready is key to being safe on the roadways. Be sure to undergo routine maintenance if you own a vehicle. Otherwise, you run the risk of being prosecuted for failure to maintain equipment, an issue which could render you responsible for an accident whether you’re mechanically at fault or not.

Having a running log of maintenance records could help keep you safe on the road. Without one, you could be held liable for any mechanical or maintenance issues causing a vehicle accident. Keep track of oil changes, brake replacements, spark plug changes and other routine maintenance to be sure you’re not held responsible for cases involving equipment failures. Such cases could come from failure to maintain the automobile, faulty mechanic services or defective parts among other issues.

2) Five-Second Rule

This aspect pertains to the amount of distance between you and other motorists in front of you. No one knows when those you’re following might need to suddenly stop to avoid a deer or another vehicle whose driver has decided to brake suddenly.

As a general rule, you should stay at least three to five seconds behind other vehicles. This helps prevent rear-end collisions and gives you enough time to react in the event someone in front of you should stop suddenly. In the event of inclement weather, allow even more time between vehicles and give yourself greater reaction time should ice or wet asphalt make driving hazardous.

3) Plan of Escape

GPS is an incredible tool for drivers these days. It gives us all a wide range of secondary routes should bad weather, accidents or road work come into play. Still, a plan of escape goes well beyond the typical scenarios.

Do you know where all the exit ramps are on your typical routes? Are you aware of where the medians and additional lanes come into play? Understanding exactly where you could potentially veer out of harm’s way could go a long way toward keeping you safe on the road.

4) Be Aware of Your Surroundings

No doubt, you’ve heard the saying, “Watch your back” tossed around in plenty of cases. It’s never more true than when out on the road. Always be aware of your surroundings. Pay attention to speed and road work signs. Watch out for other motorists in front of, behind and on either side of you. Being well aware of your surroundings at all times is sure to keep you safe in any number of scenarios.

5) Speed Is Crucial

Always keep an eye out for speed limit signs while you’re driving. There’s usually a maximum speed on back roads and a minimum and maximum limit on the highway. Keeping your speed an estimated 10 to 15 miles per hour under the limit is often recommended on busy roadways and in inclement weather. Doing so will keep you and other motorists safe regardless of the conditions at hand.

Bottom Line

Never follow another motorist with more than three to five seconds’ distance between the two of you. Keep an eye out for a possible plan of escape should matters take a turn for the worst. Always be aware of your speed as well as that of others you’re sharing the road with, and be aware of your surroundings at all times. At the same time, be sure to keep up with ongoing maintenance to guarantee your vehicle is ready for the road whether you’re looking at a short trip or a long one.