Beware of dangerous drivers

No matter how much you and your family members practice safe driving techniques, there will always be other drivers on the road you need to keep an eye out for.

Defensive driving is important for both new teenage drivers and drivers who have been behind the wheel for years. So how do you watch for dangerous drivers who may compromise your safety on the road?

* Watch for cell phone use. In many states, drivers are prohibited from using hand-held cell phones while driving. But this doesn't mean every driver is following these laws. Cell phone use while driving contributes to some 636,000 crashes, 330,000 injuries, 12,000 serious injuries and 2,600 deaths each year, according to a 2009 study from the Harvard Center of Risk Analysis.

If you see another driver using a cell phone, keep an eye on his vehicle while in the same vicinity of road space, or make an effort to slow down and put distance between your vehicles.

* Speeding, changing lanes quickly and tailgating drivers also can cause a crash to happen very quickly. Keep an eye on your rearview mirror frequently so a speeding driver doesn't catch you off guard. And if you're on a multilane highway, move to the right to allow the faster driver to pass you safely and get out of your way (without needing to switch lanes). Tailgating is a term given to drivers following a car too closely while on the road. The recommendation is to maintain a 3-second rule, but some drivers don't follow that suggestion, which could cause them to rear end you if you had to stop suddenly. If you are being tailgated, you can try moving to another lane (if possible), or slowing down and allowing the vehicle behind you to safely pass.

* Pay attention to the road in front, the road behind and the areas to the sides of your car. Scan the roadway for cars, pedestrians, bicycles or debris scattered in your lane, and for vehicles signaling a change in movement. When practicing driving safety tips, for example, don't expect another vehicle to always signal a turn correctly, or use the brakes as a simple slow down, rather than a hard stop.

You and your family can stay safe on the road with good defensive driving techniques and keeping an eye out for other drivers who aren't always practicing good driving skills.