A defensive driving course teaches you to anticipate risks and make safe decisions when on the road. Because the strategies taught extend beyond the instruction of the basic course taken by most new drivers, you improve your driving skills and learn to take defensive actions that could save your life or that of another driver in a risky situation.
What Is Defensive Driving?
The National Safety Council defines defensive driving as “driving to save lives, time, and money, in spite of the conditions around you and the actions of others.” Defensive driving includes:
- Controlling your speed
- Expecting the unexpected
- Being alert and reducing distractions
- Watching other drivers
- Being prepared for the actions and reactions of other people on the road, including pedestrians, bikers and motorists
- Driving safely for the road and weather conditions
- Maintaining a safe following distance
Learning to incorporate these skills and habits into your driving is critical when traveling on today’s crowded roadways.
What Is Taught in a Defensive Driving Course?
Each state has different regulations for defensive driving courses, but most cover the same basic information:
- Traffic crashes and collisions
In a defensive driving class, you will explore the causes of crashes, statistics and the emotional impact of a crash. Knowing this information helps reduce the risk by encouraging drivers to use good judgment when driving.
- Dealing with psychological factors on the road
Drivers have to be aware of how stress, fatigue and emotional distress can affect their driving. In a defensive driving course, you’ll learn to overcome negative factors which can take your focus away from your driving.
- Human factors
Driving under the influence is a huge problem on the road today. Most defensive driving courses go into detail about the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol, illicit drugs and legal medications that can affect your judgment while driving.
- Safety equipment
Using safety belts, child car seats and air bags to reduce the risk of injury and/or death in a crash is an important part of defensive driving. Most courses teach how to use these devices correctly to ensure safe travels.
- Crash prevention techniques
One element of a defensive driving course is learning to avoid crashes. The course may go into the dynamics of a crash, helping you understand how to avoid them and mitigate the forces of impact. Other techniques that are taught include being aware of reaction distance and allowing a good following distance.
- State-specific traffic laws
Reminding drivers of state traffic laws is an important part of a good defensive driving course. Most of us learn to drive from adults who may not always completely understand the rules of the road or changes in driving restrictions. Covering state laws in a defensive driving class ensures that all participants understand the safety rules of the road.
Other Benefits of Taking a Defensive Driving Class
Many people take a defensive driving course to reduce points on their driver’s license after receiving a ticket. If you have a suspended license, you may be required to take a course before getting your license back.
Another reason people may book a defensive driving course is to save money on their auto insurance. Some insurance companies offer a rate reduction for participating in a pre-approved safety course.
Of course, the best reason to take a defensive driving course is to learn safety-behaviors that reduce your risk of a crash and help you to better respond to the actions of other drivers on the road..
Defensive driving courses will take anywhere from four to eight hours to complete, depending on the requirements for your state, and may be offered online or in a classroom setting.
Don’t think that you need to be court-ordered or have a traffic violation to take a defensive driving class. Learn more about how a defensive driving course could lower your auto insurance rates with Bolt Insurance.