Defensive Driving — Not a One and Done

Jennifer Loomis, Associate Editor

October 12, 2022

We’re probably all guilty of getting a little careless when driving. Usually, if we’re lucky, a close call — having to slam on the brakes after following a vehicle too closely or getting honked at for being distracted at a stoplight — will serve as a reminder of the importance of being focused and attentive when we’re behind the wheel.

Defensive driving takes safe driving to the next level. The defensive driver is aware of what other drivers are doing, anticipating potential problems, and adjusting accordingly. Defensive driving means the driver:

  • Watches for changes,
  • Observes the entire situation,
  • Recognizes potential hazards,
  • Decides on the appropriate response, and
  • Carries out the plan

While it’s easy to remind drivers to drive defensively, that isn’t enough. Drivers need refresher training on all of the skills that are required of a defensive driver. Refresher training also serves a secondary purpose: it conveys the message that you expect drivers to drive defensively.

Defensive driving skills that should be covered regularly include seeing and being seen, visual scanning, speed and space management, merging, and navigating intersections. Plan to cover each of these topics at least once a year, or more often if you notice a need for refresher or corrective-action training.

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