Are you a Thinking Driver or a SAFER driver?
When someone begins the process to start driving a vehicle, they must usually complete a series of classes that go over driving practices, rules, and theories. Out of all the information that they are given, the most prominent section tends to be the one on defensive driving. I remember that defensive driving was explained to me as an excellent means to protect oneself from potential harm while on the road. By positioning yourself in such a way that you allow yourself time to react in almost any circumstance, you effectively minimize the risk that you may end up in a car accident. Even if you were to end up in an accident, you also give yourself time to make the damage as minimal as possible. Defensive driving ultimately relies on acting upon the supposition that you are the one person who cares the most about your own safety, and that it is not right to assume that others will drive in a safe and orderly manner. Something that may have not been in the spotlight when first learning about defensive driving, is how important having the correct attitude when driving can be. By adopting an attitude that is calm, collected and that does not give into stressors, then a driver can refrain from performing reckless and unsafe driving in reaction to what they experience on the road.
How should I learn about defensive driving attitudes and techniques?
For many people, the techniques that enable the use of defensive driving may be a distant memory. Others may simply want some additional tricks to add to their repertoire or a means to learn about defensive driving attitudes. In any case, a way to access defensive driving training would be handy. To do this, a defensive driving safety course might be the way to go. Taking such a defensive course would allow someone to acquire the information that they are looking for in a structured and timely manner. Taking a course in person might be difficult for some, so there are ways to do a defensive driving course online as well. The modules can be easily accessed on a computer or on a mobile device, so completing a defensive driving program online is usually not an issue. Upon completion, courses will provide a certificate of completion that you can keep for your records.
What program should I use?
There are a couple noteworthy breakdowns of defensive driving techniques available online. Chief amongst these are the SAFER Defensive Driving Program and the Thinking Driver.
Developed by Dr. Randy Flemmer, this program offers a delve into defensive driving practices that it great for just about anyone, but finely crafted for company drivers.
SAFER stand for:
This acronym quickly provides the 5 important items to always be thinking about while driving. Having adequate space is important while driving, as it gives you more time to react. As a rule, a safe following distance is usually about 2-3 seconds. It is important to remember that it is more difficult to react to situations happening on the road while travelling at faster speeds. Furthermore, you should always be aware of what cars are doing in the lanes beside yours. Having proper spacing in this sense can remove your vehicle from blind spots and allow you to react to lane changes.
As mentioned earlier, driving attitudes can directly impact the way that you respond to what you encounter on the road, meaning that adopting the appropriate attitude is very important. Foresight can reduce risk to a great degree, so try to use this whenever possible. Think about what others might do, what you can do now and how you can react later. Knowing the roads can help a lot with this factor. Seeing the road is extremely important, as it allows you to react as quickly as possible. Always practice proper visual sweeps, such as glancing over your shoulder during lane changes, regularly checking your rearview mirror and looking where you want to go. You must wear glasses or contacts if you need them and attempt to maintain good peripheral vision.
Finally, responsibility while driving is essential. While you are behind the wheel, you are responsible for the actions and decisions that you make. Enact the safe and correct driving procedures and be content in knowing that you have done your best.
Robert has been driving flatbed trucks for his job the last 5 years. Today he is running behind schedule and has a lot of things on his mind. He has been following a white SUV for the last 5 minutes, but he has only been keeping a following distance of 1 second. Suddenly, the SUV brakes and Robert does not have enough space to slow down. His truck smashes into the back of the SUV.
What Robert could have done differently: Keep a safe following distance of 3 seconds, especially given the size of his vehicle. This would give him more space to react in time.
This program, developed by Spencer McDonald, provides information that is relevant to a large demographic. Being educated in proper driving attitudes can be useful to any driver. It has especially been tailored to be of use to new and young drivers who are interested in developing foundational driving principles. Its two courses are offered as a package or separately.
Defensive Driving Fundamentals 2020
This course will go over the Five Fundamentals of Defensive Driving:
- Think and Look Ahead
- Anticipate Hazards
- Keep your Options Open
- Manage the Risk
- Control with Finesse
Sarah only started driving by herself 2 months ago. Her parents had been driving with her up until she passed her latest test. She is currently covered by their insurance. As she is driving, she notices that she is about to miss the exit she planned on taking. She makes a lane change to the right, only looking in her sideview mirror. As she makes the lane change, she hits a vehicle. Due to this accident, her parents’ insurance premium will take a hit.
What Sarah could have done differently: Make a safe lane change using her eyesight, by looking over her shoulder and into her blind spot.
Defensive Driving Attitudes 2020
This course will cover how the Five Fundamentals of Defensive Driving contribute to risk reduction and incident prevention, by tackling the following topics:
- Understanding Triggers
- Managing Driving Stress
- Aggressive Driving
- Emotional IQ
David comes home to his family from his office job every night, 5 days a week. Today his boss has been especially demanding and David is not in a good mood. He has been driving more aggressively than he normally would, and there is a large amount of traffic. As he makes a left-hand turn, he attempts to overtake the car ahead of him by going into the right-hand lane. The car does not notice him and makes a lane change, hitting his car.
What David could have done differently: Employ a calm and collected attitude, thereby reducing aggression, and driving predictably. Do not attempt to overtake a vehicle by making a lane change during a turn.
Why all the fuss about defensive driving?
With odds like 77% of people getting into some type of accident in their lifetime, it is important to take whatever steps you can to protect yourself and those that travel with you. By using defensive driving practices, you decrease the odds that you will end up in an accident or dangerous crash. Other than the reasons regarding safety, avoiding accidents by using defensive driving also brings with it a suite of benefits.You will:
- Qualify for better insurance rates
- Not have to deal with lawsuits
- Reduce repair costs
- Have better gas mileage
While safety reasons should be the primary motivating factor towards adopting defensive driving, these other reasons could also make it worth your while. Better insurance rates can be a big deal for anyone, but especially professional drivers, as having a bad rate can make it very difficult to be hired. Aggressive driving is just riskier, not to mention it wears down brakes and consumes more gas. Aggressive drivers spend more time braking and accelerating hard, leading to more expenses overall. Use defensive driving so that you can be proud that you are doing your part towards preventing automobile accidents.