First, the bad news: You can’t avoid bad drivers forever. Nothing you do will keep you away from bad drivers every day. Protecting yourself from bad drivers is something you’ll need to do every day. This is especially true if you drive during rush hour or live in a major city, unless of course your city is under lockdown.
Now the good news: there are a lot of things you can do to reduce the chances that a bad driver will ruin your day. By keeping track of your own behavior and watching out for others, you can make it through the day without incident.
Bad drivers aren’t the same as aggressive drivers. Aggressive drivers are looking for problems. They’re angry and looking for a fight. Bad drivers are mostly people who don’t pay attention. They end up causing problems out of neglect, not malice. We’ve even shared a few videos captured by BlackVue users featuring accidents caused by distracted driving.
While this article is about dealing with bad drivers, most of these same rules apply to aggressive drivers, too.
Here is a list of some of the techniques you can use to keep a bad driver from messing up your car – and your life:
Give everyone a lot of space. Whenever possible, leave plenty of room between you and everyone else. Don’t tailgate, even in bumper to bumper traffic. If you’re traveling at high speed, leave a lot of room between you and the person in front of you. Do what you can to keep people away from the sides of your car as well.
That space buffer might save your life when the bad driver in front of you loses control or starts changing lanes without noticing.
Stay out of everyone else’s blind spots. This is true for the smallest cars to the biggest trucks. A bad driver will just switch lanes without checking their blind spot. Most of us have mirrors that will tell us if someone is there, but a bad driver won’t even take a quick glance.
This goes back to keeping people away from the sides of your car too.
Don’t forget to keep everyone out of your blind spots, as well. As you’re driving keep track of every vehicle that comes up behind you. If they were behind you a moment ago and you can’t see them now, chances are they’re in your blind spot.
There is also something to be said about the way your side mirrors should be adjusted. Too many drivers seem to adjust their side mirrors for backward parking help. In other words, their side mirrors show too much of their car and the ground near their rear wheels, and not enough of the road. Instead, side mirrors should be oriented so as to minimize blind spots. As a rule of thumb, your side mirrors should barely show the side of your car unless you lean to your left or right in the driver’s seat.
Track bad drivers
As soon as you’ve noticed a bad driver, keep track of where they are. The best way to do this is to get behind them and keep an eye on them from a safe distance. The temptation is to pass them and try to get them behind you, but you’re taking a risk that they’ll get distracted as you pass and run into you.
Avoid making mistakes
One of the ways that bad drivers can negatively affect our lives is when we make a mistake. They’re already distracted. It’s important that you obey the laws and drive defensively.
- Use your directionals.
- Signal your intentions well ahead.
- Don’t make sudden movements.
- Don’t race forward or back.
- Don’t honk your horn unless you absolutely need to.
Since the person you’re worried about is easy to distract, don’t do anything that might cause them to lose focus.
Assume the worst
Mom always said, “It’s not you I’m worried about. It’s all the idiots out there.”
Assume the worst about every driver. Even if they haven’t shown you they’re distracted, assume they are. That’s the heart of defensive driving.
Treating every driver as if they’re a threat will keep you out of trouble when one of them really is.
One of your best defenses is video. A video of what people are doing or have done is powerful enough to keep people under control and to protect you from insurance companies, insurance scam attempts and legal charges.
A dashboard camera is awesome. It records everything that happens in front of you. Using a camera like the BlackVue DR900S-2CH 4K UHD model will give you images that are clear enough for identifying vehicles and drivers. And since the BlackVue dashcam records continuously without you having to interfere, you can simply focus on your driving (and those bad drivers around you).
Another great defensive technique relies on your passenger. If you have a tailgater, you can have your passenger turn around with a cell phone in their hand. Most of the time, the aggressive driver will back off and stop tailgating. Most people don’t want a record of their bad behavior.
Your own distractions
Don’t let yourself get distracted.
- Leave your phone alone
- Turn down the music.
- Avoid in-depth conversations.
- Pay attention to the road.
Sometimes, accidents happen when two distracted drivers meet. You need to be as vigilant as the other person is not.
Report the worst
Contact the police about the worst offenders.
Using voice command, or having your passenger make the call, contact the police and let them know what you’re seeing. They will pull the person over to make sure that they aren’t intoxicated or ill.
You might need to follow the person for a while until the police show up, but you might be saving someone’s life.
Being a defensive driver, you can avoid getting into accidents or arguments with the bad drivers you encounter.
By preparing for bad situations, you can ensure that a bad driver doesn’t ruin your day. Planning and some technology – such as a dashcam to keep a watchful eye on everything – are the best ways to stay safe and arrive at your destination in one piece.