Here at Defensive Driving Texas, we’ve always been a big fan of football. You wouldn’t think that there is much in common between a defensive driving course and a football game, but you’d be wrong! With the football season kicking off tomorrow, what better way to remind drivers about the importance of defensive driving than to compare it to one of our most favorite sports! You wouldn't guess it, but it turns out that defensive driving in Texas and football have a lot in common.
I remember those high school football games—the bleachers crawling with my classmates the same way ants overrun a disturbed ant bed, the wafting smells of the greasy, overpriced concessions that supported upkeep of our cartoonish wildcat mascot costume…
What I remember most are those dads living vicariously through their sons, yelling, “DEFENCE! DEFENCE!”? Personally, I never understood that. When I was on the field, I didn’t hear my dad screaming, and I was already trying desperately to defend myself against two-hundred pounds of adrenaline-pumping high school rival waiting to flatten me. Why did Dad feel the need to remind me to be on the defensive? I KNEW already.
I have to admit: there was something to Dad’s annoyingly repetitive but relevant advice. Sure, I already knew that the best offense is a good defense… on the field. But the fact is that Dad’s advice wasn’t just for football games. I’ve found that Dad’s “good defense” method works for many real-world situations.
Defensive Driving TX is a staple in the Texas community. Family owned and operated, our course has been popular in the state for some time. There’s nothing we like more at Defensive Driving TX than knowing that we do business with Texans each and every day and help them with things like dismissing a pesky ticket. Despite our new online look and feel, we were one of the first approved course providers to offer Defensive Driving Texas Online.
We know our stuff when it comes to proactive driving habits. We’ve been teaching students how to drive defensively for almost 30 years. If you need to refresh your skills or are simply here because you need to dismiss your ticket, take our Texas Defensive Driving Course.
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Defensive Driving refers to a style of driving that guards against unsafe drivers and environments. Driving defensively takes proactive measures to create a safe driving environment. This can be very important as driving is one of the if not the most dangerous thing we do each and every day.
Maybe you’re like me. Maybe you played sports as a kid and immediately understand how the “good defense” metaphor relates to defensive driving.
Let’s look at an example. Playing “defensively” in basketball means you’re playing it safe. You’re avoiding aggressive drives to the basket which can result in the ball being stolen out of your hands. When that happens, you usually end up giving away points easily.
If you aren’t “reckless” in basketball, you can be presented with amazing opportunities to move and shift at the offensive end that can really help your team. The same type of thing happens when you practice defensive driving.
The benefits of Defensive Driving include but are not limited to:
- a) More easily avoid collisions
- b) Open up opportunities to get where you’re going safer and even faster
- c) Save on car insurance. (Who doesn’t like saving money?)
- d) Stay alive.
So, want to know how to do it? Huddle up; we’re about to tell you. To drive defensively, you should
Hands on the Wheel
When you’re at bat and you take your eye off the ball, you’re going to strike out. When driving, if you take your eyes off the road, you’ll also strike out… strike out of the boundaries of your own lane and into someone else’s. All of this happens when we try to look cool instead of keeping our hands on the wheel.
It seems like a very basic box to tick, but there are plenty of accidents, some of which even cause death, that happen each and every year as a result of taking hands off of the wheel. Distracted driving is the primary cause, particularly with our mobiles these days. Many cannot text while driving without using two hands. By participating in such activities, you’re not only breaking laws. You’re putting the lives of yourself and innocent others in harm's way too.
Cell Phone Use While Driving
Cell phone use while driving is as bad an idea as using your cell phone when trying to score a goal on ice skates. For argument's sake, let’s pretend you’re in the middle of the hockey game. You’re about to win the Stanley Cup for the Stars! You got a head of steam, you have the puck, and you’re cruising it down the ice toward the other team’s goal. You’re almost there until…
Your cell phone rings. Crazy, right?
It’s you’re best friend, so you answer it (wrong choice) and continue making your way down the ice. As you blabber on about what went on at class or work, it’s time to make a play on the netminder.
If you think you’re going to score on that cell phone, think again. Much as the chance is 100% squandered on the ice at the highest level, your life too can be squandered on the highest possible level. The point of this story is that you just can’t do two critical things like that at once and reach full potential. I’ve never seen an NHL player answer his cell phone on the ice.
Why do we do it when so much more, our lives, are on the line?
It’s safe to say that many don’t know the risk they’re taking for their own lives. Even fewer understand how quickly a life can get serious after being in a distracted driving accident. It’s just not worth it, and yet we still see it happening more and more every day.
Distracted Driving and Limiting Exposure to Stimuli
In the sports world, the phone example is extreme. Very few professional athletes will take a phone onto the field. However, there are about a million other subtle, insidious ways to get distracted. Even in the middle of a game it can be hard to stay focused on what matters. Eliminating distractions, or distracted driving in our case, is all about limiting exposure to outside stimuli.
We all can relate and have been there. It’s hard not to worry about tough family situations or let the roar of the crowd get to your head.
In the car, it’s even more difficult to see just how distracted we are. we just don’t recognize most of the distractions that occur around us.
Loud music, passenger conversation, alcohol or drugs, games, text messages, and television are just a few of the many reasons we can be distracted in a car. The next time you hop behind the wheel I challenge you to take a moment and pause. How many things are distracting your everyday driving? If it’s more than 1 or 2, consider making changes to your routine.
When to Use Turn Signal
It’s hard to fathom, but many drivers out there don’t know when to use a turn signal. Some don’t even seem to know that the signal is there. We’ve all been cut off by that car. It’s not fun and it requires extra planning. Planning is a big part of being proactive and driving defensively!
Imagine you’re playing a pickup game of basketball with 4 other people you’ve never met. Now imagine that all of you are going to go out and play. The caveat is that none of you are going to verbally or non-verbally speak to one another. No communication is allowed.
It’s daunting isn’t it? You get a pit in your stomach just thinking about how chaotic that pickup game is. It’s going to be a total disaster.
Without communication we struggle to make things work . It’s just that simple.
Driving on the highway is a lot like a pickup game. You’re entering the roadway with several people you don’t know. Each and every one of you wants to go fast. Getting there safely and quickly is going to rely on communication aka when to use a turn signal.
When we are each telling each other where we want to go, it becomes easier to compensate for other’s wishes and your own. If you want to ensure that the other car is less likely to be confused or cut you off, give him a signal. Use your mirrors to check where your “teammates” are, and throw on your blinker when you want to turn. Your team may screw up, but at least you took the proper precautions to protect yourself and do your part to make the team successful.
It can be tough to drive alert, especially in traffic jams and longer drives. Even so, staying alert when we drive is one of the more crucial skills in keeping us alive. Let’s compare it to one of my favorite swim sports.
It’s unlikely that you’d fall asleep in the middle of a synchronized swim. However, you may get bored or dizzy (there’s a lot of breath-holding), and you may daydream or lose your focus. When you lose your focus, it’s likely that you turn your head to autopilot. As you begin to “go through the motions” you begin to lose much of the tact that is needed for a good performance. Movements begin to lag. Synchronization becomes anything but that as the auto pilot begins to fly at his/her own level!
When you’re driving and you lose focus, you may be able to autopilot your way to your destination, but you’re far more likely to make the wrong move. The only way to avoid unexpected obstacles is to stay focused on the driving task at all times.
If sleepiness or drowsiness occurs while driving, pull over and take a nap, crank the AC, or get a coffee. Know your limits. When you drive alert you keep others alive. When you don’t, it’s often someone else's life you’re taking.
Driving Defensively and Proactively Preparing
Driving Defensively is a byproduct of planning. In sports things are very similar. The best way to take advantage of a power-play is to already know what you’re going to do and to execute. Even if wrinkles come up, you are mentally prepared to pivot pass them.
Gaining an advantage in sports often comes with controlling the ball. Those who control the ball best are prepared, tactical, and ready to make adjustments. You don’t win in sports by “winging it” and the same thing goes for Defensive Driving in Texas.
When you’re driving, it’s best to know where you want to go and how to get there. It’s also best to plan how you’re going to react to dangerous drivers and driving situations before they happen. If someone cuts you off, what will you do? If you must drive through a thunderstorm, what route will you take, and how will you prepare your car? How will you look out for other crazy drivers who don’t play fair but instead aggressively bully you on the road?
My advice? Don’t react. Be proactive. Know beforehand how to avoid the crazies—and how not to be one yourself.
Driving Options and Route Options
As prepared as we want to be, stuff happens. You can’t prepare for every situation. For times when emergency hits, it’s important to drive for the situation. Know your driving options and route options for times of dire need.
On some occasions the other team is better equipped or simply gets “a bounce.” We can’t control variance. It’s part of the game.
When variables hit, you just have to trust your training, listen to your coach, and play your best.
It is not uncommon for other drivers, weather, or construction to suddenly change the driving environment you’re in. When this happens, it’s best to rely on your good driving habits, follow the rules of the road, and do your best to drive for the road conditions.
Is it raining? Turn on your lights and slow down. Is there construction? Seek an alternate route, or slow down. Is there a crazy driver next to you? You guessed it: slow down, allow plenty of room between you, or even get off the road. Use your judgment with others’ safety (and your own safety!) in mind.
Driving is one of the few games that doesn’t require (or allow for) winners and losers. If everybody gets home safely, we all win. In that way, it’s more like synchronized swimming than lacrosse or rugby. Think of the other drivers as your teammates. Be friendly and polite. Give the right of way. Don’t respond negatively when teammates make mistakes. This is the best (and safest) way to make sure everybody wins.
Rules of the Road
The final way we maintain our safety is by following the rules of the road. Much like the bylaws of sports maintain the integrity of the game, the rules of the road maintain the integrity of our lives.
Do your part to make sure you play fairly. Don’t follow closely. Maintain legal speeds. Obey traffic signs. Otherwise, you’ll be disqualified, potentially fined, and possibly jailed… if you don’t get injured or killed.
Hopefully, the next time you hear the obnoxious “DE-FENCE” chant at a game, you’ll look with empathy on the offending mom or dad. After all, parents often want what’s best for you. We hope that these defensive driving tips have been a good refresher and you feel ready to get back on the road. Just make sure to care for your fellow driver. All of our lives are precious. Let’s stay here as long as we can.
Want more tips on defensive driving? Check out our Texas defensive driving course!
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