Defensive driving

Ninety five percent of all driving accidents are caused by human error. We cannot control the actions of other drivers, but by learning defensive driving techniques, we can avoid the dangers caused by bad drivers.

Distracted drivers are becoming a huge problem on the roads, as people multi-task by talking on the phone, sending messages, eating, or even reading magazines as they drive. Learning how to spot potential hazards while driving can help to put you more in control of your driving environment.

Benefits of learning defensive driving

  • Makes drivers safer and more competent on the road.
  • Drivers are more in control and confident in their reactions.
  • Usage of brakes, clutch and gears will be smoother.
  • Reduction in driving stress.
  • Improved fuel consumption.
  • Lower risk of accidents and insurance claims.

Defensive driving skills

Stay focused:driving takes a lot of concentration and focus, from watching the road, the other cars, pedestrians, speed limits, traffic lights and checking your mirrors. Distractions such as phones and food make drivers less able to see potential hazards and react to them.

Stay alert:being fully alert and not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, allows you to react to situations quickly and effectively, reducing the risk of accidents. Driving when very tired or drowsy has the same hazardous effects.

Pay attention to your surroundings:being aware of other drivers, pedestrians, cyclists and animals on the road allows you to anticipate and prepare your reactions to any dangerous situations. Remember to check your mirrors every 30 seconds.

Keep your distance:follow the three second rule by keeping a three-second gap between you and the car in front, allowing for adequate braking time. If the weather is wet or misty, make the gap bigger.

Be safe:always wear your seatbelt and travel at the legal speed limit to ensure your safety and the safety of your passengers. Ignore and avoid aggressive drivers and let them pass so they are no longer a risk to you.

Don’t depend on other drivers:do not assume another driver is going to move out of the way or allow you to merge. Assume that drivers will run through red lights or stop signs and be prepared to react. Always anticipate the worst-case scenario.

Times to focus even more

There are certain times during the day or week when accidents happen more frequently. This is when defensive driving is even more important:

  • Between dusk and dawn.
  • During morning and evening peak periods.
  • At “closing time” for bars, hotels and clubs.
  • In the afternoon when children come out of schools.
  • After large public gatherings, such as rugby matches or race meetings.
  • Late in the week and at weekends when the use of alcohol increases.
  • On public holidays and weekends when many motorists are paying more attention to sightseeing than to proper driving.

When you drive defensively, you become aware and ready for whatever may happen.

Summary

  • Being an alert and defensive driver can prevent accidents and save on wear and tear of your car.
  • Defensive driving entails being fully aware of your surroundings and anticipating hazardous behaviour from other drivers.
  • Keep a safe travelling distance from the car in front to allow for enough braking time.
  • Be even more vigilant during peak hour traffic and holiday seasons.