A young man is driving his car, wearing his seat belt and practicing defensive driving

Defensive driving tips

Defensive driving tips can help drivers take on the road safely

What are some defensive driving techniques to help you stay safe on the road?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 36,096 vehicle fatalities in 2019. Speeding and offensive driving are major problems which contribute to fatal car crashes throughout the United States. These defensive driving tips can help you or a loved one take on the road safely.

Before you drive

Behind the wheel

Driving in adverse conditions

  • Avoid driving during periods of high traffic, typically during morning, lunch and evening commute times.
  • Slow down after the sun goes down. Close to two-thirds of fatal crashes that happen at night are speed related.
  • Avoid driving during inclement weather.
  • Be aware of road warning signs for hills, curves, animals and other obstacles.
  • Be especially alert at intersections, for proper signage/signals, and crossing traffic.

Drive smart

  • Watch for flashing lights and listen for emergency vehicles.
  • Keep a safe distance between you and the car ahead so you have ample time to brake safely if necessary. In normal driving conditions, the general rule is "three seconds plus." When the vehicle in front of you passes a stationary object, begin counting. You should reach that same object no sooner than three seconds, four seconds ideally. Increase following distance when visibility is poor or you're in traffic.
  • Use other transportation services such as taxis, rideshare services, and buses if you're unsure of your ability to drive safely.
  • Obey the posted speed limit. Speeding puts lives and licenses on the line. It may also be expensive, and pricey tickets could increase insurance rates.
  • Share the road. Bicyclists must adhere to the same rules of the roads as motorists yet are more vulnerable to injury. Always give ample space to other vehicles to maneuver safely, from bikes and motorcycles to large trucks.
  • Check mirrors frequently while driving, including lane changes, to be more aware of your surroundings

The information in this article was obtained from various sources not associated with State Farm® (including State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company and its subsidiaries and affiliates). While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. State Farm is not responsible for, and does not endorse or approve, either implicitly or explicitly, the content of any third party sites that might be hyperlinked from this page. The information is not intended to replace manuals, instructions or information provided by a manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional, or to affect coverage under any applicable insurance policy. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. State Farm makes no guarantees of results from use of this information.

Start a quote

Select a product to start a quote.

Find agents near
you or contact us

There’s one ready to offer personalized service to fit your specific needs.

Related articles

Teen driving 101: a step-by-step test of essential driving skills

Before letting your teenager get behind the wheel, consider going over this driver skills checklist.

Avoid these risks or you may fall asleep at the wheel

Drowsy driving can impair reflexes and lead to disaster. Try these tips to stay alert.

Safety tips for driving while pregnant

Seat belt adjustments and more safety tips to consider when driving while pregnant.

Driving tips for traffic jams

Getting stuck in traffic is unavoidable sometimes, so here's how to be safer about it.