An important defensive driving technique is allowing plenty of road space between yourself and the cars around you. This gives you extra time to react to the actions of unpredictable drivers. When adding this safety buffer of extra space, it helps to recognize drivers most likely to cause problems. They are the ones toward whom you should focus your defensive efforts.
Here are four problem drivers to watch for:
- Drunk drivers. Signs of alcohol impaired driving include straddling lane markers, wide turns, night driving without headlights, driving dangerously slow, weaving, erratic acceleration, and erratic braking.
- Distracted drivers. Watch for drivers who talk on their cell phones, gawk at roadside incidents, look at maps, interact with children, and view themselves in the rearview mirror. You may also notice their driving corrections as they attempt to multitask. The drivers of certain types of vehicles tend to have divided attention as well. For example, the drivers of delivery trucks and mail trucks are always looking for addresses.
- Confused drivers. These are people who constantly slow down to look for addresses or to read street signs. For those following them, their actions appear to have no rhyme or reason.
- Drivers who don't see you. Drivers attempting to merge into your lane from another lane, or onto your road from a driveway or intersection, cannot carry out the maneuver safely without seeing you. Watch for some indication of their looking your way. Slow down and be ready for drivers who don't appear to see you, especially if they are executing a "rolling stop" at side street intersections. Sometimes their view of you is blocked by traffic or foliage.