Out on an essential errand? Always keep these defensive driving tips in mind

While you work hard to keep your home safe, don't forget to also protect yourself on the road
Nov 16, 2020
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Fact: No one really likes driving in Metro Manila. Even though many are still working remotely and are supposed to be staying at home, heading outside on essential errands can still be an ordeal. The traffic is terrible again, roads are dotted with potholes, and motorists and pedestrians alike can be reckless and disruptive. And then, somehow, there are still hundreds of other cranky car owners jockeying for position with you on the road.

But unless you never actually need to leave your house, the best way to deal with all of this is defensive driving. In other words, driving to defend yourself from harm. Watch this:

Have you got the basics of defensive driving down? It all starts even before you leave your parking spot:

Make sure you’re fit to drive

A tired and distracted driver is a bad driver. Make sure you’re properly rested before you leave for your errand, and make sure you bring everything you need—it’s always a good idea to stash some disinfectant and an extra face mask and face shield. Pack snacks and drinks you might need to keep your energy up, and don’t be afraid to pull over to rest if need be. Set your smartphone on silent or turn on call forwarding, and put it away before you begin your drive.

Make sure your car is fit to be driven

If you haven’t driven your car in a while, it’s especially important to be confident that everything is mechanically sound. There are, after all, issues that come with your ride not being used in a while. Make sure that your fluids are all topped up and that your gasoline hasn’t gone stale. Check that your battery is still good to go and that your suspension, brakes, and tires are in good condition. As for your tires, check their tread depth to see if they’re above the wear bars and examine them for bruises and damage.

Adjust your seat and mirrors properly

When you get in, find the proper seating position: Back inclined slightly, head upright, just close enough to the pedals to push the brake to the floor, and steering wheel at least 25 cm (10 inches) away from your chest—sitting too close to an exploding airbag is very dangerous. If possible, raise your seat so you can see over the hood and out the side windows, but leave at least one fist of space between your head and the ceiling.

Your side mirrors should also be adjusted so that you can see completely into the next lane, to minimize your blind spots. After all, you can’t defend against something you can’t see.

Develop situational awareness

Always scan the road for obstacles, and alleys and side streets from which crossing vehicles or pedestrians may emerge. Scan your mirrors and the other lanes to note the location of vehicles around you and behind you. Put yourself in their shoes: What does this driver want to do? Are they lost and looking for a place to turn or stop? Are they likely to overtake you and cut you off? Remember that no one flunks what the LTO passes off as a driving test. Anticipating possible emergencies means you won’t be caught by surprise when they occur.

Give way if you must

We often find a sense of justice in not giving way to drivers trying to cut into our lane. But asserting your rights means little if it results in an accident. Leave space for the car in front of you. Maintain the same pace so as not to irritate the driver behind you and to discourage others from cutting in lane, but don’t be overly aggressive when someone does it. Always leave space, especially on the highway, where you should leave at least four car lengths worth of space to the car in front of you.

Spot your exits

You want to leave some space to give yourself room to maneuver in case an accident happens right in front of you. Follow the three-second rule to establish the distance between your car and the car in front of you: Count three seconds between the time that car passes a landmark to the time you pass that landmark yourself. Or if you’re not so good with timing, the general rule of thumb is to stay about four car lengths away. That cushion gives you time to decide whether to swerve into the next lane or simply brake to a stop—and this can mean the difference between being the middle car in a five-car pile-up or safe and home free.

But no matter how careful you are, accidents can and will happen—especially on our chaotic roads. In that case, you’re counting on the strength of your car’s steel unibody to protect you from harm. Specifically, the high strength steel in the safety cell.

Among automakers, Hyundai is unique in the fact that it actually manufactures its own steel, meaning it can use more Advanced High Strength Steel—which is 10% lighter than regular steel while being much stronger—without charging customers more. The brand’s new-generation Kona, for example, is made up of more than 50% Advanced High Strength Steel.

Add in six airbags, ABS, traction control, and front and rear foglights to that rigid chassis, and you have a car that not only provides enhanced safety, but more predictable and reliable handling in extreme maneuvers. That’s a ride that not only makes sure you survive a crash, but avoid one altogether—and that's what makes for better experiences, better lives, and ultimately, better journeys.

You can learn more about Hyundai’s use of Advanced High Strength Steel on its official website.

This article is created by Summit Storylabs in partnership with Hyundai.
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