- 1 What is defensive driving?
- 2 Examples of defensive driving
- 3 Defensive Driving Video
- 4 Defensive Driving Tips
- 5 Defensive Driving Training
- 6 How to Become a Good Defensive Driver
What is defensive driving?
Defensive driving is a method of driving that is designed to reduce collisions, time and money regardless of the road conditions or the actions of others. The biggest outcome is to reduce the risk of road accidents and collisions, which-in-turn, reduces casualties and fatalities.
Defensive driving skills are adapted to make drivers more aware of the actions of others and to drive as if everyone else on the road is drunk. (wiki) Being defensive whilst driving will improve your risk of collision as your trust is minimal where other driver’s potential mistakes are concerned.
Competitive driving is when drivers want to or need to compete when out on the road. This competitive style of driving can be particularly dangerous and the risk of a collision is heightened. Unfortunately, male drivers under the age of 25 tend to be more competitive on the road than any other category of driver. This in turn, also increases their chance of having an accident. Here are some tips on how to spot a competitive driver:
- Are they late braking for traffic lights?
- Are they ‘straight’ lining at a roundabout?
- Are they driving with loud music?
- Are there several cars travelling in unison?
- Are they swapping lanes on a dual carriageway sporadically?
- Are they revving their engine when waiting for a green light?
- Are they beeping their horn at pedestrians?
- Are they middle lane hoggers?
There are many traits of a competitive driver. It is really important to be able to recognise this type of driver so that you can assess the road and your own driving more effectively. This will increase your defensive driving skills to be able to make better decisions when faced with a competitive driver.
Examples of defensive driving
There are many examples of defensive driving. Understanding the key principles of defensive driving will in-turn equip you with more skills and will advance your knowledge, ability and understanding of driving with risk.
Here are some traits and examples of a defensive driver:
- A defensive driver will check their car’s tyres, fluid levels and lights frequently
- A defensive driver will plan their journey before they set off
- A defensive driver will NOT drive with loose items in their car
- A defensive driver is less likely to drive in extreme weather conditions
- A defensive driver does NOT trust other drivers
- A defensive driver will advance their knowledge on braking techniques, skid control and the use of ABS.
- A defensive driver knows how to identify competitive drivers and drivers under the influence.
Defensive Driving Video
Defensive Driving Tips
When it comes to defensive driving tips, here are some fundamental practices you can adopt to ensure a thorough understanding and good driving practice to your own driving.
Tip 1 – Safety First
When it comes to defensive driving tips – you should always think safety first. By not driving competitively, and driving with your full attention, you will spot other people’s bad driving sooner which will help reduce the risk of a collision. You should always make sure you are wearing your seat belt, and that you are locked inside your car.
You should always drive at a safe distance from the vehicle in front, and if another vehicle moves into the space ahead of you. You should always increase your gap by dropping back. Here are some things to consider:
- Make sure your car is roadworthy. Tyres, lights, and washers are very important
- Make sure you use your seat belt
- Make sure you are locked inside your car when driving and waiting in car parks
- Make sure you secure loose objects in your vehicle
- Make sure you always use the 2-second-rule in good weather conditions.
Tip 2 – Be Alert
When it comes to driving, you must be alert at all times. It is really important to know what is going on around you at all times. This does NOT just mean the road ahead. You should be aware of what is going on behind you as well as to the side of you. Being an observant driver will help prepare you in the event of a possible collision. You should avoid getting too near other vehicles, and always assume they could be driving without their full concentration.
You should try and scan the road as far ahead as possible. If you spot a dangerous driver, you should avoid their path and try to take an alternative route.
Tip 3 – Stay Focused
Keeping focused whilst behind the wheel can be a challenge, especially when driving at night or on long journeys. You should plan plenty of stops and rest breaks along your journey. You should try to avoid distractions whilst driving. These can include:
- Mobile phones
- Sat navs
- Hanging objects
- Eating & drinking whilst driving
- Unsecured pets/luggage
Understanding yourself and how easily you become distracted will help improve your journey by avoiding such distractions. Make sure you eat before your journey and make sure you plan plenty of stops along the way. If coffee gives you some energy, stop for a coffee break. Fresh air will also help keep you more focused and alert.
Tip 4 – Do NOT trust other drivers
When it comes to defensive driving, you should NEVER trust other drivers or pedestrians. You should never assume other drivers are legal, competent or focused when behind their wheel. There are many variables that can influence/ impact their driving which could heighten the risk of a collision. These include:
- Being drowsy after taking prescription medications
- Not focused as they have screaming toddlers in the car
- Haven’t checked their tyre’s condition for nails and damage
- In a rush, because they are late for work
- Being distracted by their mobile phone
- Forgot to put on their glasses before getting into a car.
You are more likely to be involved in a collision ahead of you. When approaching junctions you should aim to heighten your expectation of someone jumping a red traffic light, or a pedestrian about to step out into the road. This type of expectation will keep you more alert and you are more likely to slow your speed down in plenty of time.
Tip 5 – Use of Speed
When it comes to defensive driving, you should be aware of your speed and how to use it wisely. It is wise to state that driving slower is safer, but sometimes this may not be the case.
You should be aware of your surroundings and the type of road that you are travelling on. If, you are driving on a country lane, and there are limited places for overtaking. The following traffic may become annoyed and try to overtake you. Being aware of this type of situation will help you plan your use of speed wisely. Knowing when it is appropriate to speed up will reduce the need for others to NEED to overtake you. Which in turn, reduces potential collisions. But likewise, it is essential to reduce your speed in plenty of time to turns, dips and bends in the road.
Using your speed wisely and productively, can actually improve your journey, and help encourage positive driving from other people. When it comes to slowing down for junctions, you should try to do this sooner rather than later. With early mirror checks aiding your decisions, healthy approach speed to traffic lights, roundabouts and junctions will give you and others plenty of time to respond nice and early.
Tip 6 – Avoid Distractions
When it comes to defensive driving – you should minimise distractions as much as possible. There are numerous distractions that can affect your concentration whilst driving. Keeping your attention fully to the task of driving will decrease your chances of having an accident. Here are some types of distractions:
- Mobile phones – turn them off, and lock them away from your reach
- Sat navs – make sure you set this to your destination before you set out on your journey
- Eating whilst driving – make sure you eat before or after your journey. Eating a roll at the wheel is dangerous.
- Hanging objects – remove these as they can be distracting
- Passengers – keep conversations light, and avoid heavy discussions as this could distract your planning when driving.
- Pets & Loose items – make sure you secure all belongings and pets when driving. Try to avoid driving with distressed pets.
Defensive Driving Training
When it comes to defensive driving training, you can apply to a company to get some professional training. However, some of the techniques in this blog post can easily be instilled into your every day driving habits. There are many training companies that can improve your quality of driving and provide the following:
- Defensive driving skills
- Advanced driving skills
- All weather driving
- Skid control
- Eco-driving skills
- Off-road driving skills
- Car maintenance courses
If you are seeking to improve your driving to advanced level be sure to take a look at the Institute of Advanced Motorists(IAM).
How to Become a Good Defensive Driver
When it comes to ‘how to become a good defensive driver’, you should be aware of the key principles of defensive driving. Once you have established these, you should aim to drive with your full attention and at all times. Here are the key elements:
- Never trust other drivers or road users
- Always plan your own journey and avoid distractions
- Adopt a healthy separation distance when driving – always plan for changes in weather and visibility
- Be seen at all times. Make sure you can be seen by other road users and use the correct lights
- Car maintenance – make sure your car/vehicle is always legal and roadworthy. Make sure any mechanical faults are dealt with straight away
- Make sure you can identify competitive drivers early and try to avoid getting in their way. Be prepared to alter your own route if you need to.
By adopting and implementing these everyday strategies, over time you will increase your defensive driving techniques and even come up with some of your own strategies to improve your own defensive driving skills.