Defensive Driving Overview

Defensive driving is a set of rules, concepts, and strategies that goes beyond the rules of the road in order to further prevent the risks of driving. The defensive driving approach attempts to make up for other drivers’ faults through anticipation, preparation, and recognition of various signs and happenings on the road.

The average driver is susceptible to endless dangers on the road due to other drivers’ mistakes. Even if a driver obeys every roadway regulation, he or she is still affected by other drivers’ mistakes or bad decisions.

Although other drivers’ decisions are out of your hands, using a defensive driving mindset every time you get behind the wheel can help to further secure your safety, that of your passengers, and that of other people on the road.

Now taught in most required courses at driving schools, the defensive driving repertoire consists of a long set of given situations, approaches, and concepts related to safe driving techniques. Here are some examples and tips for defensive driving:

Assume the Worst

Do not trust other drivers. Assume that they will make a mistake. If you are able to anticipate, for example, that a vehicle in front of him or her may decide to turn despite not using his or her turn signal, he or she is ahead of the game.

By expecting the turn, a driver can overcompensate for the other driver’s mistake and be ready to avoid a possible accident. In this situation, a driver may want to leave more distance between his or her car and the one in front in case the other driver brakes suddenly for the undeclared turn.

Maintain Visibility and Vision

It is vital for a driver to make his or her vehicle’s presence known on the road at all times. For example, in poor weather conditions, lights should be on, and the driver should maintain an appropriate space cushion so that other drivers know from which direction the car is approaching and that it is a safe distance away.

In addition, lack of visibility is a leading factor in many accidents. A driver must learn to read the weather and time of day and use his or her lights and other car features (windshield wipers, hazards, etc.) accordingly. For instance, if driving on a very dark private road at night, be sure to turn down your brights on as soon as you see another car’s headlights approaching.

A driver must also focus to maintain visibility by continually checking mirrors and knowing where all vehicles are at all times. Maintaining vision through the use of rearview and side mirrors is key.

Stay Alert

Drivers should take note of their surroundings and be aware of potential hazards. Although it’s impossible to predict the future, it’s not hard to anticipate potential danger, and doing so while driving may help to deter potential accidents.

Taking note of a truck that is taking up more than one lane, for example, may prompt a driver to give the vehicle more space and to pass the truck with additional caution.

Remaining aware of the vehicle passing someone from the right lane as you are also passing that car in the middle lane, from the left, could prevent another potential accident.

A plethora of defensive driving courses and lessons can be found on the web and are being offered at local stations, DMVs, and educational institutes. Defensive driving is increasingly popular and vital to safe driving.