Defensive Driving – What Is It?

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In my last blog, I wrote about aggressive driving. Now I want to explore defensive driving.

When the word ‘defensive’ is used in relation to driving, it refers to ‘protection from harm.’ According to the U.S. National Safety Council’s Defensive Driving Course, the definition of defensive driving is, “driving to save lives, time, and money, in spite of the conditions around you and the actions of others.” In other words, defensive driving involves anticipating—and being able to drive safely in­­—dangerous situations, whether caused by others’ driving mistakes or unsafe driving conditions.

Keeping the four key practices of defensive driving in mind every time you get behind the wheel of a car makes good driving sense. All ICBC-accredited driving schools teach the four skills, including:

  1. Driver responsibility — being fit to drive, taking responsibility, making good decisions
  2. Knowing the rules of the road — obeying driving rules
  3. Collision avoidance — seeing hazards, assessing risks, taking affirmative action
  4. Hazard control — using effective braking techniques and skid control

Even when you know defensive driving practices, it is not always easy to be a defensive driver. Collision avoidance, for example, can involve simply following the rules of the road, but what about the more complex situations you might face—an approaching car in the wrong lane, an accident two cars in front of you, or a moose unexpectedly jumping out of the bush and onto the highway? These are not everyday incidents, but knowing how to react in emergency situations can help you avoid car accidents, serious injuries, or even death.

There are ICBC-accredited driving schools throughout Vancouver, Burnaby, Surrey and the rest of the Lower Mainland that offer defensive driving courses. Finding a school that teaches the more advanced skills of car control and collision avoidance, however, is another story. There are very limited resources for those who want to take their driving skills to the next level.

Come back next month to read more about Lower Mainland schools that provide collision-control training. In the meantime, always keep the top four skills of defensive driving in mind.

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