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Defensive Driving Courses – A Brief Overview

By Expert Author: Shiv Sadhawani

Advanced Driving or also known as defensive driving is a more advanced form of training that motor vehicle drivers can take, over and above the mastery of the rules of the road, and the basic mechanics of driving. Its aim is to reduce the risk of driving by proactively avoiding dangerous situations, despite adverse conditions and/or the incorrect actions of others. This can be achieved through adherence to a variety of general-purpose rules, as well as the practice of specific driving techniques.
Listed below are a few of those techniques, and a few words about them.
Rule No. 1 - Pay Attention!
A moving vehicle develops thousands of foot-pounds of energy. YOU as a driver have the responsibility not to use that energy to injure or kill others, or damage their property. Paying attention makes it possible for you to see, recognize and avoid the hazards lurking on the road; these are the three basic elements of defensive driving. The primary attribute necessary for a safe driver is alertness, and paying attention is the most important driving task because it helps create the time you need to recognize hazards and avoid a collision.
Rule No. 2 - Do not Trust Anybody!
We have met the enemy and he has us. You can never rely on what the other driver will do. Think back to all the mistakes you've made while driving over the years. Think ahead to the ones you know you will make in the future. All the other drivers are just like us! Don't trust them! While you are driving, keep a wary eye on the other guy and leave yourself plenty of room. Anticipate the mistakes he might make and be ready for them. Eventually, he will! Because he's just like us! When you are driving on "autopilot," you have turned control of your vehicle over to those other drivers - you are at their mercy. Their fate is your fate.
Rule No. 3 - Don't speed!
Driving at a higher than reasonable speed increases your risk in two ways: it cuts your reaction time and results in more "stored" energy (that must be dissipated in any collision). You should consider if the risks are worth the gain. This is the science of math and physics—you cannot bend these rules. Each incremental increase in speed reduces your ability to react in time to hazards, because you may be covering distance in less time than it takes to react. Normal reaction time is between .75 second and 1.5 seconds, on average. Average reaction time distance at 50 mph would be approximately 83 feet. At 70 mph, it is over 115 feet (over 7 modern car lengths). These numbers do not include braking distance, just reaction time. The average difference in reaction-time distance from 50 mph to 70 mph is about 32 feet. If you were relying solely on braking, any hazard you encounter within the reaction distance is already a problem; you can't react quickly enough to miss it. This is particularly important at night, when darkness restricts your visibility. Do you know at what distance your headlights will illuminate a hazard? How is your night vision these days? When headlights finally light up a road hazard, it is often too late to avoid it. Many experts would tell you that even 50 mph is too fast for conditions at night, on any dark roadway.
Rule No. 4 - Drive Precisely!
Sloppy driving breeds mishaps! Most everyone knows the basics of the traffic laws; signaling, proper lane position for turns, turning into the proper lanes, complying with traffic signs (like "No U-Turns," "No right turn on red," etc.), driving to the right except when passing, passing across double yellow stripes, really STOPPING for stop signs, and many others. Drivers ignore them for the sake of expediency every day. We are so impatient to get about the details of our lives that we don't take the time to do it "right." One estimate I've seen is that average drivers commit 2.5 traffic violations every mile they drive! But, those pesky, nit-picky driving rules ARE important!
Most important rule – Respect all the driving rules that your country’s legislation has.
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