There are clear financial incentives to taking a defensive driving class:
- Ticket dismissal
- Insurance discounts
- DMV license points reductionDefensive driving courses can also save lives. Sharing the road means being prepared for dangerous road conditions and dangerous drivers. Over 50% of the 5 million annual collisions in the US are caused by aggressive drivers, speeding being the most common contributor. In 2015, distracted drivers caused over 3,400 deaths and nearly 400,000 injuries.
Defensive driving schools teach best practices for safer driving, including how to identify and avoid potential accidents, providing driver safety knowledge, and tips on how to respond to danger.
Aggressive Driving Traits
SPEEDING whether driving faster than posted speeds or ignoring road conditions that require slower driving such as weather or traffic
WEAVING and frequent lane changes
HOGGING THE ROAD taking the right-of-way and not allowing people to merge or change lanes
DISRESPECT FOR RULES or traffic signs like not slowing properly yellow lights
HOSTILE BEHAVIOR on the road including heavy use of the horn, hand gestures, yelling, intentionally cutting off people, brake checking, racing, and creating a negative driving environment
IMPROPER PASSING on the shoulder or without signaling
TAILGATING and rushing other drivers
Your really nice neighbor may be dangerously aggressive behind the wheel. Road rage alone does not make for dangerous driving. Distraction is deadly. We can psychologically or physically lose focus of the road in front of us. Being scattered, anxious, distracted, or rushed can lead to dangerous driving behavior. Never multitask.
Defensive Driving Tips & Traits
SCAN AHEAD and be aware of road conditions (traffic, pot holes, debris) and other drivers
WATCH FOR DANGEROUS DRIVERS weaving, speeding, or acting erratically
LEAVE SPACE and allow others to pass. There should be at least three seconds (check on a fixed point) between you and the car ahead of you. Increase to four or five seconds in rain, fog, or snow depending on severity.
CHECK BLIND SPOTS, both your own and knowing when you are in others’ before changing lanes
RESPECT SPEED LIMITS & CONDITIONS, including the flow of traffic and environmental conditions
SIGNAL when changing lanes or turning and remain aware of other drivers
YIELD the right-of-way and allow people to merge
BE POLITE and do not lay on the horn and avoid negative gestures, expressions, and speech. Give the benefit of the doubt to other drivers
WAVE, SMILE, DEFER and use the courtesy when sharing the road you would be expected to have in a grocery store, face-to-face with others
BE CLEAR-HEADED & UNIMPAIRED
BE WELL-RESTED, EMOTIONALLY & PHYSICALLY. Being emotionally preoccupied or drowsy impairs your ability to pay attention to the road and slows reaction times
DO NOT DUI. Remember that driving under the influence includes prescriptions and over-the-counter medication in addition to all other intoxicants
LET GO of road rage and move on!
AVOID BAD DRIVERS
MOVE OVER and allow tailgaters to pass
DO NOT RESPOND to harassing or antagonizing behaviors by road-ragers
SLOW DOWN & GIVE SPACE If someone is driving dangerously, such as weaving or speeding
AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION
OBEY TRAFFIC SIGNALS & SIGNS, slowing to a stop at yellow lights and yield signs and making complete stops at stop signs
DO NOT RUSH! You have a better chance of getting there driving safely
ELIMINATE DISTRACTIONS like cell phones, texting, loud music, eating, drinking, getting ready or any multitasking
PLAN AHEAD and know where you are going, setting your GPS ahead and sending ETA's or texts before you start the vehicle
MAINTAIN A SAFE CAR distance with regular checks and tune-ups that check tires, fluid levels, and alignment
How you feel when you are driving is a good diagnostic for whether you are driving defensively or aggressively. A defensive driver is patient, focused, and alert. An aggressive driver is impatient, self-centered, and quick-tempered or rushed.
If you encounter an aggressive driver, remain calm and be nice. NEVER TAKE THE LAW INTO YOUR OWN HANDS or retaliate. Slow down and put distance between you and that driver. Aggressive drivers may express anger and retaliate for perceived slights with behavior that can lead to accidents.