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Advanced driving tips

Save money on your car insurance by being a better driver.

Whether you just got your permit or you’re a long-time driver, adopting these advanced driving techniques will make you a safer driver and can help you score insurance discounts.

Sit up straight

driving positionFor maximum steering wheel control, sit far enough from the wheel that your elbow is just slightly bent. The backrest should be reasonably upright, and your leg should bend slightly when pressing the pedals. This driving position is more comfortable on long journeys and is safer for you in an accident.

Some people hug onto the wheel, crammed into a six-inch space between the seat and the horn. Others are so laid back that they’re nearly behind the front window. Both of these seating positions are potentially dangerous, because they lead to reduced car control and increased blind spots.

Also, if you share a car with another driver, take a minute to adjust your rearview and side mirrors each time you jump in.

Look ahead


Practice scanning, which means looking at your mirrors, then ahead, then check your speed and repeat. Look about a quarter mile ahead to anticipate hazards and give yourself time to react to a developing situation before it becomes an accident.

Think about your environment and the time of day. If you’re near a school or neighborhood around 3 pm, be ready to stop for a school bus, or if you’re near shops, expect a pedestrian to exit a store and cross the road without looking. Other things to watch for are parked vehicles that suddenly pull out, cars or cyclists behaving erratically, construction work or road debris, traffic lights, road signs and a narrowing road or merging lane.

Don’t slam on the brakes


Accelerating and braking smoothly helps make your car last longer and gives drivers behind you more time to react. With some insurance companies, you can also save on your bill if you can prove that you’re a safe driver. For example, Progressive lets you opt in to their Snapshot program, which keeps track of how often you brake sharply to help improve your driving.

Expect the unexpected

car accident

Drivers are humans, and humans are unpredictable. Expect almost anything to happen and you’ll be ready for it. Is that car ahead going to turn without using their blinker or brake at the last minute? It’s possible, so leave a safe distance between you and the driver in front of you. That means about 100 feet if you’re going 30 MPH and 350 feet if you’re going 65 MPH. If it’s raining, give yourself even more space.

The easy way to remember this is the 3 second rule: when the car in front of you passes a stationary object like a tree, road line or shadow, start counting seconds in your head until you reach the same object. Ideally you’ll be at least 3 seconds behind the driver, giving you enough time to react if that driver brakes or comes to a stop.

Take a defensive driving class

driving lesson test

Some insurance companies will offer a discount to drivers who’ve completed an advanced driver training or defensive driving class. For example, USAA offers a discount to drivers who complete an approved defensive driving course.

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Bottom line

Next time you get in your car, do a quick scan to make sure you’re seated properly and make a conscious effort to be a defensive driver. If it’s been a few years since you’ve evaluated your car insurance, shop around and see if your safe driving habits can save you money.

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