Even the most cautious driver constantly faces potential dangers when they’re on the road. When you’re driving, you never know when someone will cut you off, slam on their brakes or swerve into your lane. To keep yourself and your passengers safe on the road, you need to know how to handle all of these, and many other, situations. Here are a few tips.

Know the Road Around You

As you drive, you should constantly be scanning the road ahead, beside and behind you so that you know what’s around your vehicle. Ask questions like the following:

• are there any vehicles nearby that could pose a danger?
• are there any other potential road hazards?
• where are dangers likely to come from?
• where are safe places to direct the vehicle if there is an emergency situation?

If you get in the habit of scanning the road around you and asking these questions, they’ll become second nature. You’ll eventually get so you think about them without even realizing it.

Keep Your Car Well Maintained

No matter how good a driver you are, there’s a sense that you’re only as good as the vehicle you drive. In an emergency, even the best drivers won’t be able to avoid an accident if their car isn’t able to respond to their emergency maneuvers.

You don’t need to drive a professional sports car (which likely isn’t legal to drive on public roads, anyways), but your vehicle should be well maintained so that it can respond to your maneuvers. For instance, your vehicle’s tires, brakes, shocks and struts should be in good shape so your car can stop quickly if you have to slam on the breaks. Similarly, your steering should also be very responsive.

Give Yourself Time

Responding to an unexpected hazard that suddenly appears in front of your car takes time. It doesn’t take a lot of time to turn the steering wheel or press the brakes, but it takes a few seconds — and having a few extra seconds could be the time you need to avoid an accident.

To ensure you have enough time to respond to hazards:

• don’t tailgate
• drive the speed limit
• reduce your speed for bad road conditions
• slow down when going around blind curves

Reduce Your Distractions

To ensure you’re able to quickly respond to potential dangers, limit the distractions in your vehicle. Get in the habit of putting your phone away while driving, and try to avoid eating while driving. Every second you aren’t looking at the road is a second less you have to respond if something suddenly appears in front of your car. Even changing the radio station can take a precious second that could have prevented an accident.

Take a CA Traffic School Class

Whether you’re a new or experienced driver, taking a traffic school class can help you hone your driving skills. You can review maneuvers for avoiding accidents and practice good defensive driving habits. Widely known for helping people get CA traffic tickets dismissed, these classes can also help drivers with clean records keep their driving records clean of any accidents.

You likely don’t constantly think about all the potential dangers you face each time you drive, but they’re always present. Use these to develop good driving habits that become second nature, so you can reduce your risk of being in an accident. That way, you’ll be driving safely even when you aren’t consciously focusing on potential dangers.