What is it? and is it safe?
One of the primary dangers on the roads is other drivers. They can be unpredictable – you never know who is behind the wheel, or what they may do next. This is where defensive driving comes in. Defensive driving is all about anticipating dangerous situations before they occur and taking steps to minimize risks wherever possible. The term describes a collection of various techniques, all designed to protect yourself and other road users.
At Evolve driving school, our mission is to prioritize your safety and peace of mind through the practice of defensive driving. Our dedicated team of experts is here to provide you with valuable resources and tips that will enhance your defensive driving skills. Trust us at Evolve to help you navigate the roads with confidence and stay one step ahead of life’s unpredictable moments. With our guidance, you’ll become a skilled driver who can confidently handle any situation that comes your way for a safer and more secure driving experience.
One of the primary dangers on the roads is other drivers. They can be unpredictable – you never know who is behind the wheel, or what they may do next. This is where defensive driving comes in.
Defensive driving is all about anticipating dangerous situations before they occur and taking steps to minimise risks wherever possible. The term describes a collection of various techniques, all designed to protect yourself and other road users.
What are the techniques?
Keep your distance
Leaving plenty of space between your vehicle and those around you can give you a much higher chance of avoiding dangerous situations. It’s important to leave room both in front of and behind you where possible, as that will allow you to move into that space easily should you need to.
A potentially dangerous but common scenario arises when drivers come over a hill or around a corner to find standstill traffic, leading to sharp and sudden braking. As a result, it’s vital that you’ve left yourself enough space around your vehicle in order to stop safely, as it will hugely minimise the risk of collisions.
Don’t rely on others
The only person you should trust on the road is yourself. You can never know what’s going on in other drivers’ minds, and they could even be in an unfit state to drive. For this reason, assume it’s never safe to rely on what you would consider typical behaviour. If you’re ever in doubt, it’s usually safer to wait.
Unfortunately distracted or careless drivers will often use their indicators incorrectly, which can be incredibly dangerous. Instead of trusting an indicator when it doesn’t feel right, anticipate what could happen and listen to your instincts. An experienced driver can sometimes tell a driver’s true intentions based on the body language of the car (the speed it’s travelling at, and its position on the road), so if something feels off, don’t be afraid to wait it out.
Stay focused at all times
If you drive regularly, it’s natural that you typically start to become more relaxed when you’re behind the wheel. However, this can lead to your mind wandering or focusing on other sights instead of directly ahead, which can be dangerous – not only to yourself, but to other drivers as well.
Even just a second of looking away could cause an accident, so try your best to stay focused. It might help to sit up straight and grip the wheel with your hands in the correct position, also helping to avoid the temptation to fiddle with anything else in the car.
Be aware of your surroundings
As a driver, the responsibility is on you to remain aware of your surroundings. This means keeping an eye on nearby pedestrians, cyclists and even animals. Passersby may step off of the pavement or even trip, landing in your path. If you’re already aware of and have anticipated this hazard, it can help to minimise your reaction time. Constant and effective use of your mirrors will raise your awareness and planning skills to anticipate what is and what can happen around you especially in busy traffic conditions like town or city driving and motorway driving.
The same applies to any nearby pets, especially those that aren’t on leads. Not only would it be devastating to hit someone’s companion, but it poses a threat to yourself and other drivers as well.
People often brake or swerve to try to avoid such collisions, which can result in more damage. Thinking about these scenarios in advance can help you to prepare mentally and decide what you might do, meaning you can act faster in the moment.
DEFENSIVE DRIVING SUMMARY
- Keep your distance
- Don’t rely on others
- Stay focused
- Be aware of surroundings
Is it safe?
The concept of defensive driving is centred around safety, not only for the driver but also for the general public. As you’ve learned, it’s a collection of various techniques that can be used to anticipate dangers on the road and mitigate the risks involved with driving.
While the practice of defensive driving is safe in theory, it can affect the behaviour of other drivers in turn, which could jeopardise how safe it actually is. For example, driving too slowly when trying to leave a big enough gap between yourself and the car in front can encourage tailgating from the car behind you. This is one of the leading causes of road rage, the consequences of which can be very dangerous.
If someone is tailgating you, don’t be tempted to speed up away from tailgaters as this will not stop these people following too closely behind, simply because they will match the speed you are doing therefore heightening the risks of accidents and collisions. Be responsible in how you drive it can be safer to pull over and let them pass. This way you can reclaim the space behind you, allowing for much safer driving. Safety should always be your primary focus, so consider adopting some defensive driving practices to protect yourself and others.