Considering the value of the heavy cargo that some drivers transport day-to-day, not to mention their most precious cargo: themselves, defensive driving is arguably one of the most important responsibilities drivers have while on the road. Their lives – and the lives of those in nearby vehicles – depend on it. Let’s take a look at the meaning of driving defensively and discuss a few techniques to help keep you safe.

What is defensive driving?

Defensive drivers anticipate dangerous situations by taking into account the actions of others and the presence of adverse driving conditions. Simply stated, drivers should be ready for any potential hazards on the road ahead.

What does defensive driving require?

Defensive driving requires the knowledge and strict observance of all traffic rules and regulations applicable to the area. If successful, you will never be involved in a preventable accident. The following recommendations may help you learn to drive with a defensive mentality. Memorize them and share them with others.

Defensive driving requires:

  • A constant alertness for the illegal acts and driving errors of others’ and a willingness to make timely adjustments.so that others’ actions will not force you into an accident.
  • An understanding and anticipation of any adjustments you may need to make for unexpected conditions, including the mechanical functioning of your vehicle, type of road surface, weather, light, amount of traffic and your physical condition and state of mind.
  • A thorough knowledge of right of way rules and a willingness to yield whenever necessary in order to avoid an accident.

Strive to follow these three steps and you too can drive defensively:

  1. Watch for the hazard. When driving, think about what is going to happen or what may happen as far in advance of the hazardous situation as possible.
  2. Understand the defence. Specific situations require specific reactions. Become familiar with the unusual conditions that you may face and learn how best to handle them.
  3. Act in time. Once you’ve noted a hazard and understand the required defence, act as soon as possible! Never take a “wait and see” attitude while you’re behind the wheel.

By remembering these three steps and keeping good driving techniques top-of-mind, you will learn to adjust your driving behaviour to respond to the unexpected actions of other drivers and pedestrians. You will also be ready to adapt to the unpredictable and ever-changing factors of light, weather, road and traffic conditions, the mechanical conditions of other vehicles and your own physical ability to concentrate and drive safely.

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