What is Defensive Driving?
Defensive driving is when you, as a driver, anticipate what other drivers are about to do, and you react properly to avoid getting into an accident. In other words, defensive driving is when you drive in a manner that employs safe driving strategies on the road to enable you to respond to careless or reckless actions by other drivers.
This is a practice you learn with experience, and it often goes beyond the information you learn in driving school, or that is tested before you can obtain your driver’s license. In fact, many drivers who have already obtained their driving license find it necessary to take a defensive driving class to be as safe as possible on the road.
A defensive driving class would typically cover the following topics and issues, which constitute what you need to know and practice as a defensive driver.
Avoiding Serious and Deadly Traffic Accidents
Losses from traffic accidents are devastating. Approximately 41,000 people die annually because of traffic accidents, with an additional 3,236,000 suffering serious injuries. About 38% of all fatal car accidents are alcohol-related, with another 30% attributed to speeding, which are both avoidable causes.
Not driving while under the influence of alcohol or not speeding is part of safe and defensive driving. However, another important aspect of defensive driving is keeping an eye out for other drivers who might be speeding or showing signs of intoxication. Give these drivers plenty of space and try not to drive in their vicinity. If you need to, report erratic drivers to the police, as officers might be able to catch the drunk driver before they cause an accident.
Driving a vehicle is something that requires total and complete concentration and focus, though too many drivers jump behind the wheel without a second thought. Appreciating the task of driving is an important concept of defensive driving, and that includes freeing your mind of things that can psychologically affect your driving – also known as distracted driving. Although some of these things are beyond the driver’s control, psychological factors can lead to crashes if a driver is not careful.
Defensive driving focuses on how a driver can overcome negative psychological factors such as unnecessary stress, drowsiness, fatigue, and emotional distress – all of which individually or collectively may lead to road rage. A defensive driver aims to avoid any impatience or aggression on the road, and they know how to stay clear from drivers showing signs of aggression or road rage.
Other Defensive Driving Objectives
Some other defensive driving strategies you may learn from experience or at a defensive driving school include the following:
- Scanning the roadway before entering and adjusting to surroundings
- Employing and strictly adhering to the two-second rule for following distances
- Knowing and understanding your vehicle’s stopping distance
- Being aware of reaction distance
- Being on a lookout for obstacles and hazards on the road
- Knowing when to safely pass and when to return to your desired lane
- How to “go with the flow” without being too caught up in it