What is Defensive Driving?

Defensive driving is a method of driving that anticipates dangerous situations before they happen. In other words, when you’re “driving on the defense,” you’re actively seeking to avoid hazards and ultimately, collisions. This is a desirable, skillful way of driving but it takes active focus and experience to master. 

Here are a few tactics you can work on to become a defensive driver: 

  • Anticipate others will make mistakes. Start with the premise that other drivers are likely to make mistakes. Assume there are new drivers on the road. Drunk drivers. Distracted drivers. When you start from this assumption, you’ll be more likely to drive cautiously. 
  • Stay alert and focused. We all know that texting and driving is bad. But just about anything can pose a distraction. Even daydreaming can be dangerous as you can “zone out” and miss potential hazards. 
  • Create space. Do not tailgate. Do not drive in other drivers’ blind spots. Periodically ask yourself how you might escape if a threatening situation arose. Do you have a lane open you could move into? 
  • Drive in a predictable manner. When you maintain an even speed, use your turn signals, and avoid excessive lane changes, you help other drivers better predict your next maneuvers. 
  • Maintain a safe speed. Keeping to posted speed limits will mean you will be able to better maintain control of your car in an emergency situation. Remember, increased speeds (even by a little) greatly increase your chances of serious injuries and fatalities in a collision. 
  • Avoid road rage. If you encounter an aggressive driver, stay calm, create space, and do your best to leave the situation. This may mean changing lanes or even taking an earlier exit than you’d planned. Engaging an angry driver could escalate things. Remember, it is better to be safe than right. 
  • Consider taking a refresher course. You don’t have to be a teenager to take a driving class! There are several available online at low cost. In the event you are a teenager or senior driver (over 55), you might want to check with your insurance company. Sometimes, you may be eligible for a discount on your insurance premium if you complete one of their partner courses. 
The next time you’re on the road, we encourage you to be deliberate about these tactics. If we all put the effort in, we can reduce collisions and make the roads safer for all users. 
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Angela Russell
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