Three core precepts of defensive driving: “recognize the hazard; understand the defense; act in time.” In Colorado, 43 auto accidents occur daily just because of distracted driving.

Steps Colorado Drivers Can Take to Reduce Risk of Auto Accidents

On the road, the best offense is a good defense. Drivers should always be prepared for the unexpected, including potential hazards. And that means acquiring specific driving skills.

Learning Through Traditional Classroom-Based Courses

Getting a learner’s permit is the first step toward obtaining a driver’s license. Individual states decide the age at which someone may obtain a learner’s permit. In Colorado, you can start the process at age 15 by taking driving education classes and the state’s Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program. The GDL program includes state-approved driver’s ed instruction. Although classroom training will touch on the subject of defensive driving, gaining extensive defensive driving skills requires taking additional classes that offer more in-depth training.

Defensive driving classes are for young and old alike. In fact, the American Automobile Association (AAA) encourages drivers to take a class to gauge their driving skills as they age.

Several classes are available for Colorado seniors.

Core Concepts of Defensive Driving

There are three core components of defensive driving: “recognize the hazard; understand the defense; act in time.”

How do you achieve these?

Follow all basic traffic laws.

Among other laws you should follow, be sure to obey the speed limit and obey stop signs and yield signs. Aso take care to properly merge with oncoming traffic and properly change lanes. The Insurance Information Institute found that in 2017, nearly 17 percent of fatal crashes involved drivers who were speeding. Failing to properly change lanes or yield the right of way was a factor in nearly 15 percent of auto accident fatalities.

Always allow (at least) three seconds for reaction time.

As you drive, it may take 1.5 seconds to notice something that could affect your safety and another 1.5 seconds to bring your car to a complete stop. To prevent an accident, always leave enough space between you and the vehicle in front of you to give you enough time to react to sudden danger.

Don’t drive distracted.

When driving, don’t do anything that takes your eyes off the road or your hands off the wheel. In Colorado, 43 accidents occur daily because of distracted driving. In 2018, almost 2,900 people died in accidents around the country because of distracted driving: cell phone use, eating, changing the radio station, or even talking to another passenger in the vehicle.

Never drive when drowsy or under the influence.

In 2018, more than 10,500 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drowsy driving was implicated in 91,000 crashes in 2017 and 795 deaths. If you have been drinking, arrange for a ride home. If you find yourself getting sleepy as you drive, find a safe place to pull over. A short nap may help.

Let other drivers know about your intentions.

When changing lanes or making a turn, use turn signals to alert other drivers to your intentions well in advance so that they can prepare to slow down or stop.

Steer clear of aggressive drivers and road rage.

Aggressive driving includes tailgating, running a red light, and changing lanes without a signal, and it is a ticketable offense. Road rage can easily be expressed in a criminal act, like intentionally ramming a car or even pulling a weapon on another driver. If you find yourself near a driver who is too aggressive, let him pass you. Don’t engage him. advises:

If you find that you have agitated another driver, whether the fault is truly yours or not, do not react or retaliate to the other driver on the road. This will only cause the situation to escalate. Remind yourself that the other driver is just bad at handling stress, avoid eye contact, and continue to practice safe driving habits…

While it may be difficult in the heat of the moment, do not give in to feelings of anger or rage on the road…. Getting home safely is more important than teaching someone a dangerous lesson.

If an enraged driver is making you feel unsafe or you believe that he is endangering others, find a safe place to pull over and call 911.

Be aware of road conditions.

A wet and slippery road can make driving conditions hazardous, so check the weather before you head out. If you are a novice driver or you feel uncomfortable driving in inclement weather, change your plans to avoid it.

Motorcyclists — even more at risk than drivers of enclosed vehicles –should adhere to these defensive driving tips as well. Thousands of bikers are killed or injured every year, in part because of a lack of defensive driving.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, contact personal injury attorney Dan Rosen at (303) 454-8000 or (800) ROSEN-911 to schedule your free initial consultation to discuss the details of your case.

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