I don’t believe in jinxes, but for some reason I still say, “I don’t want to jinx myself, but…,” and you might find me wearing a “lucky” shirt to help my favorite professional sports team win.

I also “knock on wood”when I say something in front of someone else, so they feel good.

So… “I don’t want to jinx myself” and I’m going to “knock on wood” as I start this post by saying I’ve been fortunate to get into very few car accidents in my life, and none were very serious.

The secret to my success is defensive driving. Defensive driving is one of the first things we learn in driver’s ed, for good reason—our best chance to avoid accidents is to stay focused on the task at hand and on our surroundings.

When I taught my kids to drive, I harped on things like:

  • Focus not only on the car ahead of you, but also the cars ahead of them. When you see red brake lights a couple of cars ahead, you need to start to slow down, either by applying the brake or simply taking your foot off the pedal.
  • Religiously follow the “following distance” rule. Stay at least one car length behind the car in front of you for each 10 miles per hour you are traveling at. (For example, 60 mph = Six car lengths.)
  • Drive inside a cushion, meaning leave space not only between you and the car in front of you, but also the cars in the other three directions—left, right, and behind you.
  • Assume other drivers are going to do something wrong.
  • Assume the child playing near the street is going to run into the street.
  • Look both ways at every intersection, even if you have a green light or if you don’t have a stop sign. (The last accident I was in was caused by someone running a red light. I was able to partly swerve out of the way and the result was much less damage to the car and, most importantly, no injuries.)

Defensive driving is more important than ever for our health because of mobile phones. Despite police cracking down on distracted driving, and public service announcements and billboards warning against texting while driving, the problem is a huge one. Texting while driving may be more dangerous than driving under the influence.

I am sure, like me, you regularly see people texting while driving. All of us should be urging everyone we know to never text while driving. Some day technology preventing texting while the car is moving may be mandatory. Until then, we have to be more vigilant than ever with our defensive driving habits. Here is a powerful, short video you may not have seen on the subject.

What are some of your defensive driving habits? Please join the conversation with your comments…

Best regards,