What is defensive driving? You have probably heard the phrase “defensive driving”, but what does it mean? And what does it mean for you? Defensive driving is a driving strategy that is designed to help drivers increase safety and reduce risks on the road. A June 2022 report detailed a total of 137,013 reported casualties of all severities in Great Britain. Implementing defensive driving strategies could help you protect yourself, your passengers, and others on the road.
How do you practice defensive driving?
There are many principles and techniques involved in defensive driving, however the main three categories we will look at are:
Always follow traffic laws
While this may seem obvious, it is extremely important. All traffic laws are in place to protect everyone on the road. Yet, many people ignore these laws every day. Maybe you have, too. Have you ever texted while driving? Have you ever driven a little too fast when late for work? These are risks which put you, your passengers, and others at risk.
You can minimise risks like these by planning your schedule so that you have plenty of time to get where you are going at a responsible speed. If you receive an important text, simply pull over onto the soft shoulder or into a public parking space when it is safe to do so. Your safety should always be your top priority.
Expect the unexpected
As every driver knows, driving can be unpredictable. This is often due to factors outside of your control. For example, another driver swerving to avoid an object in the road, an animal running out into the road, a flat tyre, or even adverse weather conditions. The best way to prepare for a freak accident is to stay alert and aware of your surroundings. This leads us into the next category;
Managing your space
Part of defensive driving is making sure that in the event of an unexpected risk, you will have time and space to react and avoid being collateral damage. In this context, managing the space around your vehicle means that you keep an awareness on your vehicle and the space around it. You can do this by:
- Frequently checking your mirrors to observe objects and vehicles around you
- Maintaining a safe distance behind other vehicles. Try the 3-second-distance rule. If the car in front of you were to slam on their brakes, would you have time to stop?
- Maintaining a responsible speed – once again, this requires you to be aware of your surroundings and other drivers on the road. Always observe the speed limit on a road, but be aware that weather conditions may require you to further reduce your speed
Road safety is everyone’s responsibility. Anytime you are behind the wheel, make sure you are alert and focused. By following simple steps such as obeying traffic laws, checking your mirrors, and giving other drivers plenty of space, you can help make sure everyone arrives safely at their destination.
Want to learn more?
If defensive driving sounds your speed, consider taking a course to further your knowledge and experience. You can take a defensive driving course from a registered organisation, like RoSPA.
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