Defensive driving is a key component to staying safe on the roadways, particularly when aggressive drivers surround you during peak traffic hours. This useful skill can be the difference between ending up at your desired destination and ending up in a hospital bed.

Defensive driving is not extraordinarily difficult, but little tactics can increase your safety on the roadways. Here are a few tips for being a defensive driver.

Minimize distractions

The more you compromise your focus while driving, the more danger you are putting yourself in. Common distractions include cellphones, radios and passengers in the car with you. Always keep your attention where it needs to be, which is the road. Texting, talking on the phone, fiddling with the radio, etc., all impair your driving ability, which inadvertently makes you more aggressive on the road.

Follow the 3-second rule

A rear-end accident usually happens when the car behind was following too closely, then was unable to stop in time when the lead car hit the brakes. Using the 3-second rule means that you allow for about three seconds of space between you and the car in front of you.

To measure the following space you need, notice when the car in front passes a landmark, such as a billboard or a building, then count the seconds until you pass the same landmark. That is the amount of separation you are giving yourself. Three seconds is usually an ample amount of time to stop, should the vehicle in front brake suddenly.

Have a plan 

Whenever you are driving, particularly during high traffic periods, it is good to have an escape plan should there be a crash in your vicinity. You will not react as quickly if you are not prepared for things to take a turn for the worse. Quick reactions are paramount to being a defensive driver.