Defensive driving is the safest kind of driving there is. It uses safe driving strategies in a variety of different situations to ensure that an accident does not occur. When learned, it becomes an innate part of a basic way someone drives.
Not everyone has been taught defensive driving. Because of this, there are defensive driving courses throughout the nation. These classes teach students to improve their driving skills by anticipating potential hazardous driving situations and making safe and well-informed decisions.
Students include mature drivers, others wanting to improve their driving skills and those wanting to reduce the number of points on their driver’s license following a citation. Some of the latter are court-mandated and some are not.
What do people learn in a defensive driving course?
The contents of a defensive driving course are regulated by each state and are designed to train students based on the laws of their state. Most, however, contain similar information.
Information typically taught in defensive driving courses includes the following:
- Individual state traffic laws;
- An overview of the national data on traffic crashes;
- How driving while under the influence impacts many thousands of lives each year and the blood-alcohol levels that an individual state considers drunk driving. It explains how motor skills, judgment, inhibitions and senses are affected by drugs and alcohol, as well as the consequences of being found guilty of a DUI;
- Psychological factors that can impede one’s driving ability, such as emotional and physical stress, fatigue, pain and road rage;.
- Teaches students how to develop a positive attitude behind the wheel while increasing one’s focus on the road;
- The nature of distracted driving and its potentially deadly consequences;
- The dynamics of a crash (speed, place of impact and size of object being impacted) and how most are preventable. The concept of the second collision (drivers and/or passengers hitting the windshield, seat or other object in the car, if seat belts are not worn) is taught to show that the secondary collision can be as dangerous as the primary one.
- The importance of safety equipment (seat belts, air bags, child safety seats, head rests, etc.);
- Perhaps the most important part of a defensive driving course is the teaching of crash prevention techniques focusing on how to avoid traffic crashes and recognizing potential hazards before it is too late.
Crash prevention techniques
We can all learn from reviewing the following crash prevention techniques taught in defensive driving courses. We should all do the following when driving.
- Scan the roadway and adapt to surroundings
- Employ the two-second rule for following distances
- Know our vehicle’s stopping distance
- Being aware of reaction distance
- Beware of environment hazards
- Note vehicle emergencies ahead
- Share the road
- Safe passing and necessary clearing distances
- Know who has the right of way
- Speed adjustments and railroad crossings
No one is too young or too old to hone their defensive driving skills. If you, one of your children or an older parent seem a bit dusty, consider a defensive driving course. You’d be amazed what you can learn.
Remember to always drive defensively and please, stay safe out there.
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