What Is Defensive Driving: 5 Things to Know

Defensive Driving

In 2019, over 36,000 individuals lost their lives as a result of a fatal motor vehicle crash. While not all accidents can be avoided, knowing how to drive safely can be the difference between life and death.

Defensive driving is a term used for a method of driving that actively aims to minimize risk by anticipating the potential risks you might meet on the road. If you’re wondering exactly what is defensive driving, then look no further.

Let’s take a closer look at defensive driving and 5 basic principles that can help you be a better and safer driver.  

The Benefits of Defensive Driving

The benefits of defensive driving might seem obvious at first. However, you might be surprised to learn that taking a defensive driving course can even get you out of a ticket and reduce your insurance premium.

Traffic tickets can happen to the best of us, but no one wants them sitting on their records or adding points to their license. Several states will allow you to sit a defensive driving course to reduce your penalty. This can mean:

  • Reducing or completely removing the associated fine
  • Not adding points to your license
  • Removing the tickets from your driving record

You can’t use a defensive driving course every time you get a ticket. Grace is usually reserved for first-time offenders. 

Defensive driving courses can also mean cheaper insurance. A lot of insurance companies will offer a better rate to drivers who have completed a defensive driving course. 

More importantly, one of the biggest advantages of learning how to drive safely greatly improves your chances of avoiding accidents on the road.

The 5 Basics of Defensive Driving

These five basic rules of defensive driving in no way constitute sitting a defensive driving course. But here are five things you should keep in mind when you’re on the road.

1. Never Drive Impaired

Never driving impaired goes a lot further than not driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. Drunk driving is responsible for almost 30% of all traffic-related deaths, but there are other ways you can drive impaired.

Driving when you’re drowsy when can be just as dangerous as driving when you’re intoxicated. Avoid driving if you’re tired, and if you get tired when you’re driving, find somewhere safe to rest before resuming your journey.

Driving impaired can also mean driving distracted. Avoid searching for belongings or using your phone when you’re driving. Be sure to set your GPS before you set off, and stop if you need to change your destination. 

2. Be Aware of Your Surroundings

When you’re driving you need to be alert at all times. Anything can happen at any time, so it’s crucial to know what’s going on around you. 

Always scan the horizon so you can see what’s up ahead, and regularly check your mirrors so that you can see what’s behind you. Always check your mirrors before setting off to make sure they’re adjusted properly.

Be sure to check your blindspots properly before turning or changing lanes. Cyclists and motorcyclists can be harder to spot than other vehicles. 

3. Keep Your Distance

Another key element of defensive driving is to keep your distance from other vehicles. The greater the distance, the more reaction time you have should anything untoward occur.

If you do need to stop, that extra space can save you from rear-ending another vehicle or suffering whiplash.  

4. Avoid Bad Drivers

Just because you’re actively being a defensive driver doesn’t mean that everyone else on the road is too. If you notice that someone is driving recklessly, then be sure to stay out of their way.

You can move over and let them pass you or change lanes to keep distance from them. The same should be done for tailgaters. 

Whatever you do, don’t get caught up in road rage. It’s important to stay relaxed when you’re driving. If you encounter bad drivers, then keep your distance and think nothing more of it.

If you’re naturally a stressed person, then consider non-driving outlets for the stress. When you get into a car and turn the engine on, it’s important to be relaxed.

5. Be Patient and Courteous

As the saying goes “do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” This is so true of driving defensively. 

  • Remain patient and avoid rushing when you’re driving
  • Slow down in adverse traffic conditions
  • Give right of way 

Even if you’re not naturally submissive, being patient and courteous will reduce the chances of accidents on the road.  

What Is Defensive Driving Psychology

Defensive driving is as much about psychology as it is driving skills. Defensive driving is about an active mindset. 

Most drivers take to the road and mind their own business. They do so on autopilot. Defensive driving is about being alert and active. You should always anticipate the potential movements of other drivers.

As touched upon earlier, it is important to always drive in a relaxed state. Find destressing exercises that can help make you calm and present before driving anywhere.

Learning to Drive Defensively

If you take a look at this resource on car accident recoveries you’ll soon learn that car accident can lead to physical harm and a lot of stress. Most defensive driving courses only take 4 hours to complete. Some go more in-depth and last as long as 8 hours.

Either way, learning how to drive safely can save you a lot more than just your life. Courses can even be done online and cost between 20-40 dollars. Keep in mind that this small expense can save you money on your insurance premiums!

It’s Time to Be a Better Driver

Now you know what is defensive driving it’s time to actively pursue it. By following these defensive driving tips and taking a course, you can save both money and lives. Not only that, but you’ll find the road a much more relaxing place to be as you travel from destination to destination incident-free.

For more tips on getting around in all aspects of life, be sure to take a look at our other articles. 

Salina is a professional blogger and marketer. She has an excellent talent for writing. She is very much passionate about contributing her ideas on online platforms. Generally, she shared her thoughts on trendy topics such as health, beauty, travel, food, fashion, technology, business, finance, and so on.