Contrary to what you might think, roadway accidents rarely happen due to one party’s blatant recklessness. More often, collisions, from fender benders to more severe crashes, happen as a result of honest mistakes. Drivers aren’t always fully aware of what else is going on the road around them, leading to accidents.

These types of accidents are very common, highlighting the importance of making a concerted effort to operate your vehicle with the awareness of other drivers, commonly called “defensive driving”. In this article, we’ll cover what it means to be a defensive driver in South Carolina and why this heightened awareness can prevent potentially costly accidents in the future.

What Is Defensive Driving?

When you’re adjusting the way you act while driving to respond to weather conditions, other drivers, or a variety of other factors, this is defensive driving. When you’re on the road with other people, nothing happens in a vacuum. That’s why it makes sense to maintain maximum awareness of the road when you’re traveling on it.

The opposite of defensive driving is negligent driving, which usually happens when the operator of a vehicle is distracted or otherwise not paying full attention to the road and other drivers. When an accident occurs, it’s most commonly due to negligent behavior on the roadway, which can lead to a personal injury claim brought against the person at fault for the accident.

Here are some tips to ensure that you’re being a defensive driver in SC:

Don’t Trust Other Drivers

Once you start to expect certain behaviors from drivers with whom you’re sharing the roadway, you start to get complacent. When something out of the ordinary happens around you, you won’t expect it, leaving you vulnerable to a potential accident.

If you operate your vehicle with an awareness that other drivers won’t always behave the way you would, you’ll be better equipped to prevent an accident.

Focus on Driving

Over 80 percent of drivers admit to multitasking while they’re driving, meaning that there might be more distracted drivers on the road at any time than you’d think. Trying to something else while driving, like eat, put on makeup, or change clothes, means you’re spending less time watching the road, making you less aware of what’s going on around you.

Yield to Other Drivers

If in doubt about who has the right of way, always yield to other drivers. Even at a simple four-way stop, when two drivers don’t know who reached the intersection first, an accident can happen if both try to enter first.

Not only is it safe to yield, but it’s also considerate to let other drivers take their turn before you. Imposing your will on the roadway can lead to road rage, which can lead to personal injury or damage to your vehicle.

Take Your Time

Speeding, making quick lane changes, and rushing through yellow lights are behaviors of aggressive drivers, which by nature, aren’t driving defensively. Obey the traffic laws in your area and not only will you be less likely to have a car accident, the streets will be safer for pedestrians in your community.

Keep Your Vehicle in Good Condition

Safe driving isn’t limited to what you do when you’re driving. Keeping your vehicle maintained while you’re not driving it is also important. Change your oil at the recommended times to avoid engine failure, rotate your tires, check your head and tail lights — a vehicle that is in operational shape is less likely to malfunction on the road and cause an accident.

Consider Weather Conditions

Safe driving habits may change in different types of weather. Maybe you follow the car in front of you at safe distance in normal conditions, but a safe following distance is different if there are snow and ice on the road, or in a rainstorm, for example. To mitigate bad weather conditions, making sure your tires have adequate traction and replace them if they don’t. Make sure your lights provide good visibility, even when the rain or other conditions make it difficult to see, and make sure you’re windshield wipers are functional and high-quality.

Keep Your Cool

We’ve all been there: you’re driving to or from work, for example, and another driver does something inconsiderate or downright reckless on the roadway near you. Resist the urge to get angry or respond with aggressive driving of your own. Angry driving heightens the chance that you’ll get into an accident.

Why Is Defensive Driving Important?

Defensive driving prevents crashes, making roads in South Carolina safer places to drive.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration studied driver behavior regarding roadway crashes and found that 85 percent of driver-caused accidents were due to errors in recognition, poor decision-making, or poor driver performance.

Driving defensively adjusts for some of the most common reasons why you might get in an accident by increasing awareness and preparing you to anticipate things that happen around you on the road.

Because South Carolina is known as “fault” state, meaning that damages for accidents of any size are paid out the party deemed to be liable, defensive driving is key to keeping your car insurance rates as low as possible.

Your defensive driving habits can be shown in court, whether you’re building a case for damages against the liable party, or someone is attempting to bring a personal injury claim against you after an accident. A major part of a successful personal injury claim is establishing liability.

When you’re building a suit of your own, your safe driving record can be used to show that the other party was the one at fault. When you’re being sued, defensive driving and an accident-free record is a compelling reason for the court to find that you aren’t responsible for the damages being sought.

Establishing fault is an important part of car crash lawsuits. If you are a defensive driver, a car accident lawyer can help you use your defensive driving habits in a court of law.

The Brown Law Firm works to protect the interests of defensive drivers in South Carolina, both in helping to win damages after an accident and reducing or eliminating liability. To learn more about what we can do for you, contact the Brown Law Firm today.