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Tips for Defensive Driving

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Defensive driving is a way of driving which can help you to keep away from problems on the road through detailed journey planning before travelling, and applying concentration, observation and anticipation whilst on the road. A defensive driver does not just concentrate on his or her own actions, but also on the likely actions of other road users.

The main purpose of defensive driving is to reduce the chance of collisions or incidents, despite the actions of other road users, or the conditions in which you are driving.

One of the main aspects of defensive driving is LOOKING OUT FOR HAZARDS. Anything that requires you to alter your speed or change the position of your vehicle on the road is classed as a hazard.

The starting point for defensive driving is to plan your journey and ensure you have a realistic amount of time to travel.

Once on the road defensive drivers apply the following rules:

Look 15 seconds ahead, not just at the vehicle in front of you. Aiming further down the road allows you to anticipate risks, make fewer and smaller steering corrections and to better predict events to which you may need to react.

Scanning or keep your eyes moving to combine what you see ahead and around you and more effectively identify hazards.
Monitor and maintain the ‘safety space’ around you to give yourself time and options.
Ensure other road users see you - giving early, clear and effective signals.

Other key elements to defensive driving include making sure you:

  • Only drive when you really have to – other forms of communication and transport are much safer, more efficient and better for the environment.
  • Stay up to date with the traffic laws and the basics about how your vehicle works.
  • Keep your vehicle in good condition.
  • Are always prepared, and allow enough time for journeys.
  • Are well rested and never take any drugs or alcohol that could affect their concentration.
  • Are always fit to drive and alert to what is going on around you.
  • Anticipate potential hazards from other motorists, pedestrians, weather and equipment and take steps to minimize the risk.
  • Avoid risky manoeuvres like trying to beat red lights.
  • Never let yourself be distracted.
  • Drive at a safe speed and distance from the vehicles around you.

All of the various elements link into the main purpose of defensive driving – to do EVERYTHING you can to reduce crashes on the road. Not only does defensive driving help to save lives, but it also has many other benefits. Defensive drivers are less stressed, which is turn is likely to lead to fewer incidents of road rage or aggressive driving.

Defensive drivers are also likely to save money - driving smoothly and steadily using concentration anticipation and observation is highly fuel efficient and gets you there just ask quickly.

Author: Interactive Driving Systems

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  • Nyge - 07/11/2012 22:55

    Being a defensive driver seems so easy ... all the things you should do seem so logical and sensible..... it is not down to age or sex but the individual. I cannot believe that any driver would not do these things already. One thing in my driving that others say,"you are wandering all over the road" ... no I am not - what I am doing is to position my vehicle in a the lane in which I am driving so that I have better visability ahead ... this is helps when rounding bends and following traffic like lorries so I can see the road way head. I have also been a motorcycle rider for many years and am still alive due to defensive riding!

  • Richard Wemi Ayebaemi - 24/08/2013 07:33


  • david - 12/06/2016 10:34

    I have been practicing defensive driving for 0ver 35 as a professional driver and it has kept me and my passengers safe but you have to remember continuous professional development. All road users types can practice D/D but remember, concentration and hazard perception.

  • Jay Whitaker - 19/12/2017 12:31

    Defensive driving seems to be difficult but in actually it is not. It simply includes detailed journey planning that helps in estimating the duration of the journey and also helps in reducing or avoiding the hazards. Great informative post!!! Regards Jay Whitaker

  • Paul Mott - 08/01/2018 14:07

    Number one thing - leave a 2 second gap between you and the car in front. If car behind gets narked - hard cheddar, do NOT feel pressured close the gap and so steal your own reaction time should an incident occur ahead, to appease the fool behind. Also, do not change lanes more than is necessary, e.g. on a crowded motorway, choose a lane - any - and stick with it. That is what the signs "congestion, stay in lane" tell us. Oh, and always signal BEFORE a maneuvre, not AS you do it to legitimise it. Those are the things I see not done, that should be, most often.

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