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5 tips to protect yourself from distracted drivers

Everywhere you go, you see drivers on their cell phones. Holding phones to their ears as they change lanes without signaling. Swerving recklessly back-and-forth in their lanes as they try to dial. Stalling traffic as they type while the stop lights change. And it’s up to you watch out for them.

Despite the obvious dangers of distracted driving and the fact that Colorado’s distracted drivers cause 43 auto accidents every day, Colorado law still allows some drivers to use their phones on the road. Even though the courts and insurers frown upon distracted driving, the statistics continue to rise. You can expect to see more and more distracted drivers on the road. See them, watch out for them, and drive defensively.

Defensive driving 101

Generally speaking, defensive driving is the art of avoiding surprises and accidents while you’re on the road. You may find the practice broken into different areas of concern multiple ways, depending where you look. For instance, the Colorado Driver Handbook breaks down defensive driving into four behaviors, but most sources revisit five central themes:

  • Watch the road. Look ahead. Check your mirrors. Keep an eye to the road and the way other cars are moving. Distracted drivers might be driving slowly while they’re looking at their phones or swerving erratically.
  • Maintain a safe distance. Especially at high speeds, you can cover an incredible amount of ground in just a second or two. Tailgating other drivers reduces your ability to respond to dangers, especially when the roads are slick.
  • Drive smoothly. When you accelerate and decelerate smoothly, you make yourself a more predictable driver. This makes it easier for other drivers to drive responsibly around you. They will see your turn signals, and they can respond to your brake signals without needing to slam on their brakes.
  • Form an escape plan. If you’re watching the road ahead of you and see an SUV swerving back-and-forth in their lane as it tailgates a line of cars, you can see the risk for a crash. If a crash brought that line to a sudden halt, where would that leave you? Always leave yourself time and space to respond to sudden changes on the road.
  • Avoid distraction. It seems simple, but if you’re a distracted driver, it’s hard to protect yourself from distracted driving. Stay focused on your driving. Keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel.

Get safely home

It can be frustrating to see drivers on their phones all the time. You know it’s unsafe. Even they know it’s unsafe. But you can’t control them. You can only change your own behavior. Driving defensively is your best bet that you’ll get safely back to your home and family.

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