Did you know?
Defensive driving not only ensures road safety but also saves fuel, lowers the cost of insurance premium and increases the overall life of the vehicle.
Let us first familiarize ourselves with the term 'defensive driving'. 'Defensive driving' refers to driving a vehicle in such a way that a driver can minimize the risk of an accident, or any other adverse situation on the road.

A student of a defensive driving course is essentially taught to anticipate the hazards that may occur while driving, either from his side or from other drivers, and make quick, appropriate decisions that would ensure his as well as others safety, especially in adverse situations such as a potential collision of two automobiles. Like first aid training, it is an important skill to acquire, and may prove very helpful.
Basic Techniques of Defensive Driving
Many people nowadays opt for specialized defensive driving courses that have specialized syllabi for their students in order to ensure safer road journey in the future. Given below are some techniques of defensive driving:
Predict Probable Dangers
The best thing that any defensive driving course would teach its students is to anticipate potential danger and react accordingly. Assuming the worst possible situation while driving is a key to safety. Only if a driver assumes that a given situation (such as someone breaking the signal) can lead to a worst possible condition (such as fatal death), he will try to react in a manner that may be helpful in saving lives. In order to recognize potential dangers, one has to assume that every other driver on the road, other than the one in question, has no knowledge whatsoever of traffic rules and so anything can happen at any point in time. Always being alert and paying attention to detail are the two most important things which a 'defensive' driver must keep in mind.
Keep a Safe Distance
It is extremely essential that one maintains a safe distance from the vehicle ahead, while driving. This is due to the fact that although it may be possible to anticipate potential dangers by analyzing the conditions around, it is not possible to anticipate how a driver ahead may behave at a given point in time. It is quite possible that he may take a sudden turn without indicating, or may even come to a sudden halt. In any such situation, if the distance between the two vehicles is not 'safe' enough, a possibility of the driver behind losing control and colliding with the vehicle ahead may arise, which in many instances can lead to fatal conditions. Hence, it is important to refer to the safe driving guidelines that advise the drivers to drive at a 'recommended safe distance'.
Avoid Getting Distracted
Drive cautiously, carefully and attentively. Avoid all kinds of distractions as far as possible to ensure safety. Adjust all your car mirrors according to your comfort so that you get clear views of all the directions right before you start driving. Adjusting the mirrors while driving can be highly distracting and may result in the driver losing control. Similarly, using a mobile phone, switching between radio channels or watching television within the car can distract drivers who in turn can run into other cars, collide into stationery objects or even worse.
Mind the Heavy Traffic
'Defensive' drivers are trained to scan the road ahead and be geared up for any future contingencies, especially in heavy traffic. They are expected to keep a close eye on vehicle indicators and brake lights. Maintaining road discipline and avoiding 'car bunches' are the two important factors. A 'defensive' driver either heads the 'car bunch' or stays at the very end of it. This is a good way to avoid severe accidents.
Avoid Larger Vehicles
It is advisable to keep away from large and heavy vehicles, and avoid driving either in front or behind them. Watch out for heavier vehicles such as buses or trucks in your rear view mirror, anticipate the distance and plan your strategy accordingly. If you are driving behind a large vehicle, maintain a safe distance from it and see that you do not attempt to overtake it from the wrong side.
Maintain Presence of Mind
While you pay attention towards other cars and heavier vehicles around you, it is also important to scan the road for bicycles, motorcycles, pedestrians, potholes and animals that may come in our way while you are driving. Presence of mind is very important because you cannot say how and when an animal or a child may come in front of your car. Make sure that you do not exceed the prescribed speed limit so that you are able to control your vehicle in any such situation. Similarly, avoiding factors such as potholes are also vital.
Blind Spots May Kill
Try not to drive into the blind spot of the vehicle that is ahead of you. Blind spot is a spot or point behind the vehicle which cannot be seen by the driver through any mirror. In other words, blind spot is a high-risk area around the car where maximum accidents can occur. It is therefore necessary for the defensive drivers to identify this spot and try not to drive in this problem area. Thus, a simple guideline to be kept in mind while driving is, "if you can't see their mirrors, they can't see you".
Although, every American state has its own syllabus of defensive driving, formulated on the basis of each one's individual laws, the techniques used in the process are more often than not the same everywhere.
Tips for Driving Defensively
Almost all vehicle crashes and fatal accidents can be avoided if the drivers follow certain safe driving tips:
* Always wear a seat belt. It improves your chances of surviving an accident.
* Do not drink and drive. About 30% of road fatalities in the United States result from drunk driving.
* If you have to drive long distances, make sure that you have slept well enough. Drowsiness or falling asleep while driving can lead to dreadful consequences.
* Driving at a high speed may seem fun and thrilling. But, speed may cost you your life. An old public safety campaign had a very apt bottom-line that read, "Speed kills".
* Drive carefully in foggy, rainy or snowy weather. Keep the speed slow. Adverse weather conditions may affect visibility and thus increase chances of accidents.
* Make full use of your side and rear view mirrors. Watch out for the other drivers on the road. Not everyone might be driving safely.
* Whenever turning left or right, always turn on the indicator. This tells the driver behind you that you are taking a turn and he thus reacts in an appropriate manner.
* Honking while taking sharp turns is a good way to warn the drivers coming from the other side of your presence. This enables them to reduce speed or pull their car on one side if the road is narrow.
* Keep both hands on the steering wheel. While driving, the hands should be either in the 9 O'clock and 3 O'clock position or in the 10 O'clock and 2 O'clock position. These positions are known to be the safest hand positions while driving.
* Never overlook the traffic light. Breaking or jumping a stop light can lead to unexpected results.
* Expect the unexpected. One may never anticipate what may happen the next moment. Be prepared for any kind of contingency. Only then will you be able to make efforts to avoid it.
* It is also advised that you maintain and service your vehicle regularly and from time to time so that you can minimize the risks of sudden breakdown and subsequent fatalities.
Due to massive public demand, many non-profit and government organizations now offer courses in defensive driving. These courses tackle everyday driving problems by imparting training on issues such as emergency care, safety principles, on-site emergency response planning, safety communication and training techniques and roadway work courses on flagging. Owing to the benefits of defensive driving, the governments along with various institutions have tried to make it more accessible to the public in general. People may now learn tips and techniques of defensive driving even while sitting at home through numerous DVDs and CDs available in the market that impart knowledge on this subject.