The standard Safe Practices for Motor Vehicle Operations, ANSI/ASSE Z15.1, defines defensive driving as “driving to save lives, time, and money, in spite of the conditions around you and the actions of others.” This definition is taken from the National Safety Council’s Defensive Driving Course. Defensive driving is also a way to reduce the risk of vehicle crashes by anticipating dangerous situations instead of reacting to them. Some motorists describe defensive driving as “driving as if everyone else on the road were drunk.” Good defensive driving techniques can be achieved through following roadway rules as well as the practice of certain driving techniques included below.
- Drive the speed limit and follow all highway and State laws.
- Practice courteous driving – Always yield the right of way to other vehicles and most importantly, pedestrians.
- Consider your blind spots – Be alert to your blind spots which are located in the rear quarter area of both sides of your vehicle.
- Space – Leave the appropriate cushion of space between you and the vehicle in front of you. Follow the two second rule by picking a marker on the road such as a pole. When the rear of the vehicle in front of you passes the pole then count (one thousand one, one thousand two). When the front of your vehicle reaches the marker then stop counting. Always leave more space when following large vehicles which blocks your view of the road ahead or lighter vehicles such as motorcycles which can stop more quickly than you can.
- Use your mirrors – Mirror adjustment and learning how to use mirrors properly is an important part of defensive driving.
- Road Rage – Don’t let others upset you while you are driving.
- Distracted Driving – Don’t text or talk on your cell phone. Use hands free if a call must be taken or made.
- Hydroplaning – Utilize extra caution when driving in wet conditions by slowing down. Hydroplaning can cause a driver to slide uncontrollably.
- Don’t drive while drowsy – Don’t drink and drive or drive while you are sleepy. Make sure you are in good physical and mental condition before driving.
- Keep your vehicle in good condition – The five areas on your vehicle that need continuous maintenance are tires, brakes, lights, exhaust, and steering. Don’t forget to regularly check your battery and always wear your seat belt!
Operating a vehicle carries enormous responsibility. Defensive driving is an attitude, and a good attitude can greatly reduce any potential mistakes or accidents. For more information on safe driving and driving courses: Defensive driving course