Defensive Driving 101

Defensive Driving 101

You’ve definitely heard the term before: defensive driving. This is covered in pretty much every driver’s ed class as the standard for how to approach driving and getting behind the wheel. Yet as quickly as we learn about, we often forget how incredibly valuable this method of driving can be. Between all the other information you learn and the excitement of getting your license, it can easily slip through the cracks. Not to worry, though! We’ve put together a guide to help you understand the basic concepts of defensive driving and its importance to you every time you get behind the wheel.



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What Is Defensive Driving?

Defensive driving is a method of driving that reduces the risks involved with operating a vehicle, despite your surroundings, the current conditions, and the actions of those around you. It is a way to utilize safe driving strategies that will then enable you to better and more predictably identify hazards. This is not just a list of the basic traffic laws you need to follow; instead, these are skills you can use to improve your driving skills while reducing risks to make safe and well-informed decisions.

The Basic Concepts

When you learn about defensive driving, you’ll be given a lot of advice on how to drive safely to prevent accidents and reduce your overall risks. Some of the basic concepts you’ll take away include:

  1. Secure each passenger with a seat belt, including children and pets. Safety belts save 13,000 lives each year, and it is reckless to drive without one on. A seat belt will allow you to move with the car in the event of a crash, whereas if you don’t put it on you will simply be tossed around inside the car. Even accidents at slower speeds can result in fatalities from no seat belts being used.
  2. Always leave space around you. This gives you the option to escape any type of dangerous situation that might arise. Put a comfortable buffer between you and the car in front of you, and be aware of any cars at your side.
  3. Slow down during situations where visibility is lowered, especially during inclement weather conditions or at night. Your reaction time will be less during these times, so driving slower will give you more time to decide the best plan of action in the event of an emergency.
  4. Always obey speed limits. They are in place because they have been deemed the fastest possible speed you can go while still remaining safe in that particular area.
  5. Concentrate on driving at all times. Driving is the worst time to try to multitask, whether it’s putting on makeup, texting, or eating. Eliminate any and all distractions and also keep a watchful eye out for pedestrians and animals along the road.
  6. Expect the unexpected. This sounds like an impossible task, but it basically just means to plan escape routes. Make mental notes of what you would do in certain situations so that if and when they occur, you’ll be ready.
  7. Never drive if you feel tired or are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. You might think that your driving is fine, but in an altered state it’s hard to tell. More than ⅓ of people admit to having fallen asleep at the wheel and an estimated 32% of fatal car crashes involve someone who is intoxicated. Do not become one of these statistics.
  8. Check your mirrors often. This will allow you to know what other cars are on the road and help you to prepare (remember number 6!).
  9. Assume that other drivers will not follow the rules of the road. Don’t just hope that people will stop at stop signs or red lights or yield properly. Unfortunately, humans make errors, but when it comes to operating a car the consequences can be quite awful. If you prepare for other drivers to drive poorly, then you’ll be prepared if and when it does actually happen.
  10. Follow the laws set in place by your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Yield correctly to those who have the right-of-way, pass cars only in authorized passing zones, and ensure your car is in safe and working order. Also avoid high-risk situations as well, like a motorist who wants to race. What it comes down to is being respectful of other motorists.

A defensive driving course will go into these topics into much more detail, giving you the strategies to accomplish each one with ease.

Why Should I Learn More About Defensive Driving?

If driving safely is something that intrigues you—as it should—then you might want to look into a defensive driving course. The benefits to doing this go well beyond making you a better driver. First of all, certain traffic violations can be waived with the completion of a state-mandated defensive driving course. Once you’ve completed the class, you can provide the information to the court and not have to worry about points being added to your license. If you already consider yourself a safe driver, you can use a defensive driving class to help lower your insurance premium. Check with your insurance provider to see how the course can positively impact your monthly costs. But of course, most importantly, a defensive driving class will give you useful tools for driving in the safest way possible.

This can save you loads of time and money down the road, as well as people’s lives.