Tag Archives | defensive driving

Always expect the unexpected

To develop best practices and become a better and more proactive driver, there are some useful defensive tactics you can follow. After all, there’s only one driver whose skills you can truly predict and that’s you, all other drivers have the potential do to the unexpected, so it’s important you’re prepared to react. For example, as you drive always think about where you could move to quickly should you need to avoid the actions of another motorist, this could be the hard shoulder or a different lane. Constantly planning and being aware of your ‘escape route’ should become an automatic part of your normal scan of the road. To be safe, assume that the other driver could do the wrong thing, after all they may suddenly change lanes, develop a tyre problem, pull out or make a turn without looking. As you gain experience, you’ll realise defensive driving is all about forward planning and being ready to react when something unexpected happens. The best approach is to assume a head-on-a-swivel, ready-for-anything mentality and, in this way, you’ll reduce the chances of another driver’s actions or mistakes affecting you and your car. A good starting point is to keep a healthy distance between your car and the vehicle in front, this way you’ll have plenty of time to react should they do something without warning.

On the defensive

Anticipating other drivers’ actions and expecting the unexpected is part of becoming a safe and confident driver. This is termed ‘defensive driving’ and is all about thinking ahead, anticipating what other drivers are going to do and being ready to react. Your driving instructor will teach you that you need to be aware, at all times, of what is going on around you. This is essential if you’re going to become a good defensive driver. Although you don’t know what another driver is thinking, you should always try to second-guess their next action, and be ready to react accordingly if it affects you.

It’s important to constantly look ahead, keep an eye on changes in traffic flow and expect the unexpected. For instance, if you see an oncoming car waiting to turn right ahead of you, think of the implications and be ready to slow down or stop just in case they decide to turn across you, too close and at the last minute. Similarly, if you see children or workmen on the pavement, slow down and be prepared should they step out unexpectedly.

Time to be defensive

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

To become a better defensive driver, 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 better predict events to which you may need to react.

Scanning or keeping your eyes moving to combine what you see ahead and around you will help to identify hazards. Monitor and maintain the ‘safety space’ around you to give yourself time and options, and ensure other road users see you – giving early, clear and effective signals.

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