Defensive Driving: What It's All About

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If you've ever heard people talk about defensive driving, you may have wondered what it's all about and if it's something you should learn. Here's a look at what defensive driving entails and why it might be a good skill for you to study.

What Is Defensive Driving?

Defensive driving is basically being extra alert while driving and being able to respond to emergency situations or other people's poor driving in an instant. While you may be an excellent driver, many people on the road today are not (some may even be driving illegally). You can't rely on your own driving skills to get safely to your destination these days.

Defensive driving can be learned in various school programs. There are private defensive driving courses anyone can take, as well as CDL (commercial drivers license) classes for people who drive professionally. There are also EVOC (emergency vehicle operator class) training sites for police, fire, and EMS professionals that teach skills that overlap with defensive driving, albeit at a more rigorous level and for vehicles beyond regular automobiles.

What Skills Are Taught in Defensive Driving Classes?

Defensive driving classes are generally divided into classroom and practical sessions. During the classroom portion of the training, attendees learn about strategies to improve safety, such as how to choose which lane to drive in depending on road conditions, and how to handle emergency tire blowouts on the highway.

The practical sessions usually occur on a closed driving course. Skills that are practiced behind the wheel include

  • evasive maneuvers (how to safely veer out of the way of a car coming into your lane or a child running into the street)
  • high speed braking (stopping the vehicle safely at highways speeds)
  • driving in reverse (how to best visualize where you are going, how to use mirrors, etc.)
  • serpentine maneuvers in forward and reverse directions (weaving the car in and out of cones meant to represent obstacles like debris on the road)

Why Should You Learn Defensive Driving?

Defensive driving is a skill that everyone on the road should learn. You never know when a loose pet will bolt in front of your car or a semi on the freeway will suddenly shred a tire and you'll have to stop or get out of the way in seconds.

If you do large amounts of car travel for work, such as for sales, it makes sense to take a defensive driving class. It may afford you a discount on your auto insurance, and some employers will reimburse you for the training.

If you plan to do a job that pays you to drive as a primary duty, such as working as a chauffeur or delivery person, you may need to have a CDL. In that case, CDL classes would be best for you. In fact, taking CDL training may open up a host of positions to you if you are looking for a career change or job hunting.

Virtually everyone on the road today knows someone who has been hurt or killed in an auto accident. Don't let that be you or your loved ones. Taking a defensive driving class is one step you can take to reduce your risk on the road.