The formula for defensive driving is to see the hazard, understand the defence and act in time.
Why is defensive driving important?
Understanding and effectively applying this formula prevents accidents in spite of the actions of other drivers or the presence of adverse driving conditions. A good defensive driver must be able to anticipate the outcome of traffic situations so that he or she can act in time to prevent an accident.
Let’s take a closer look at the standard accident prevention formula and how it can be applied to everyday driving situations.
See the Hazard
Drivers should be constantly scanning the road ahead of them and checking their mirrors. They should be thinking about what may happen as far in advance as possible. They should never assume that a hazardous condition will have passed before they reach it. Have drivers consider the following scenarios:
- You see an approaching vehicle starting to pass another car. It looks like they will complete the pass in plenty of time, but you are not sure. Think about your defence.
- You see a vehicle on the shoulder of the road—you cannot see the driver anywhere outside the vehicle. What if the door of the vehicle is opened as you pass the vehicle? What would you do?
- You are travelling along a residential street. The vehicle approaching is a convertible with its top down. On the same side of the street, you see a lawn sprinkler that is spraying water onto the roadway. What do you think the approaching vehicle will do and how would you react?
Of course, there are countless more possibly dangerous scenarios, so drivers need to look beyond the bumper of the vehicle in front of them and stay alert for any situation that could potentially develop into an accident.
Understand the Defence
There are specific ways to handle most hazardous situations on the road. When drivers anticipate a hazard, they are able to review the situation in their minds and visualize their defence so that when the time comes, they are able to act quickly enough to prevent an accident. Preparation is key. If drivers have planned for various scenarios, they will feel comfortable when faced with them.
In an emergency, remind drivers not to panic. They should stay calm and continue to visualize the defensive action they will take to minimize damage.
Act in Time
Once a driver sees the hazard and decides upon a defence, he or she should act immediately. A driver should never assume that the condition will clear up. The sooner the driver acts, the more time he or she will have to avoid an accident.
Defensive driving is not easy. Drivers must constantly strive to improve their observation and coordination skills by scanning the road and concentrating on potentially hazardous situations. Seeing the hazard, knowing the defence and acting in time can mean saving lives.