Here we take a closer look at what it means to be a defensive driver and what driving techniques and skills you can put into practice today to be a safer driver.
Defensive Driving — The Class
If you’ve ever received a ticket, you may have been required to take a defensive driving course rather than pay the ticket fine and to avoid accumulating points on your driving record. You can also take this classroom-based course to receive insurance discounts.
Defensive Driving — The Skills
However, defensive driving isn’t just about getting an insurance discount or avoiding fines. Instead, think of defensive driving as a set of skills that will help you keep yourself and others safe on the road.
The dictionary even has an entry for defensive driving:
“The practice of driving strategies that minimize risk and help avoid accidents, as by predicting hazards on the road.”
Why Defensive Driving is So Important
One of the biggest mistakes people make when driving is underestimating or misjudging the driving skill, attention, and maneuvers of other road users. Driving defensively involves being aware of conditions and driving behaviors several cars ahead of you. It allows you to defend against bad drivers, intoxicated drivers, road conditions, and poor weather.
Driving Skills and Behaviors
To be a defensive driver, implement these skills whenever you are behind the wheel.
- Be aware: Scan the road constantly for potential hazards (including poor driving behavior or unsafe maneuvers on the part of other drivers).
- Plan ahead: Know where you’re going in advance of pulling your car out of your driveway or parking spot. Planning ahead frees up your brain to focus on the road.
- Control your speed: Make sure it’s reasonable for the current situation and driving environment.
- Stay alert: Always be watching and preparing for both the expected and unexpected actions of other drivers.
- Don’t expect anything of other drivers: Do not expect other drivers to do what you want them to do, or to anticipate your own driving behavior.
- Watch the weather: Be aware of the weather conditions on your route and understand that adverse conditions will impact visibility and even your energy.
- Don’t drive fatigued: You can’t drive alert and give the driving task your full and complete attention if you’re driving drowsy.
- Eliminate distractions: You can’t control the distractions other drivers face, but you can limit them in your own driving. These include cell phones, passengers, eating and drinking, and so on.
Normally in life, it’s a good idea to give others the benefit of the doubt. But when it comes to driving, often the best approach is to never assume that others sharing the road with you will drive safely, observe traffic laws, or even drive sober. If you’re always on the lookout for driving situations that could put you or others at risk, and you always approach driving with the utmost caution, you’ll be in a better position to stay safe.
Would you like the help of an experienced, expert instructor in improving your defensive driving skills? We can help. View Stop and Go Driving School’s defensive driving classes today.