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Defensive Driving Techniques and Courses

By Verizon Connect June 2, 2020

Defensive-driving tips and courses for learning more

According to the Association for Safe International Road Travel, more than 38,000 people die each year in crashes on U.S. roadways. The U.S. traffic fatality rate is 12.4 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, and road crashes are the leading cause of death in the U.S. for people aged 1-54.

One way to help reduce these statistics and make roads safe for you and other drivers is to practice defensive driving. In most states, there are a number of defensive driving classes available to help you learn the driving skills needed to stay safe on the road. In many cases, it’s also a requirement for truck and fleet drivers to learn defensive driving techniques or take courses as part of continuing education or re-certification. These courses are also important to help improve driving habits. 

What is defensive driving?

Defensive driving means a driver is proactively taking precautions and driving in a manner that helps protect himself or herself and other motorists on the road, regardless of bad weather or poor road conditions. 

This includes purposely avoiding hazards, anticipating the actions of other dangerous drivers, monitoring blind spots and paying active attention to construction and other factors that impact road conditions and lane integrity. By following these techniques, a defensive driver can enhance their ability to prevent breakdowns and other negative driving situations like road rage and consequent dangerous driving.

Defensive driving techniques

There are a number of ways that both private passenger vehicle drivers and commercial fleet drivers can go about practicing defensive driving. Here are a few techniques:

Standard Practices

  • Avoid distractions while driving. This includes not eating, not talking on a cell phone or texting and not letting other passengers pull your attention off the road.
  • Expect the unexpected. Assume that another driver on the road can switch lanes without warning, an animal could run into the road or the flow of traffic could come to a sudden halt, requiring sudden braking. Being ready for these situations can help you react more quickly.
  • Control your speed. Speeding is a significant factor in automobile accidents. By staying aware of posted speed limits and consciously making an effort to avoid speeding, you are in a better place to react to others on the road.
  • Avoid drowsy driving. Drowsy driving occurs when you operate a motor vehicle while you are so tired that your brain is cognitively impaired. Warning signs include: repetitive or excessive yawning, drifting in and out of your lane, not maintaining a consistent speed and frequently rubbing your eyes or blinking. This impairment means that your reaction time is much slower, similar to if you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol. 

Concerning Other Drivers

  • Be prepared to adjust your driving based on other cars on the road, and be ready to react to the actions of other drivers.
  • Be cognizant of bikers and pedestrians around you—be ready to yield to pedestrians where required by law and be sure to give bikers sharing the road plenty of space.
  • Stay alert for vehicles pulling out into traffic from hidden driveways, shopping centers or unmarked roads.

Regarding Your Vehicle

  • Keep your vehicle well maintained and practice predictive maintenance. Make sure tires are properly inflated, oil has been changed, windshield wipers are operational and have enough fluid and that the overall condition of your vehicle can contribute to safe operations. 
  • Be sure all those who drive your vehicle adhere to safe following distances such as the 3-4 second rule, and are prepared to adjust driving speed to account for sharp turns, traffic lights, merging lanes and more.

Defensive driving courses

Defensive driving classes can offer a number of critical benefits—first and foremost, they can help improve your safe driving habits. 

Second, defensive driving skills can also potentially have a positive impact on insurance premiums. It’s not uncommon to find driving schools that offer defensive driving classes, or for insurance companies to offer such courses. They can lead to the reduction of points on your driver's license after a ticket, or lower insurance rates once completed.

It’s a good idea to check what’s offered in your area and through your insurance company. While availability of defensive driving classes will vary by city and state, here are a few examples of courses for both private passenger and commercial drivers:

How fleet management supports safe driving

How a driver performs behind the wheel is an important factor in the accomplishment of safe driving techniques. However, it’s not the only factor. The technology supporting the vehicle also plays a significant role. 

For fleets, especially, having a GPS fleet tracking solution in place can greatly contribute to driver safety—from pinpointing driver location in the event of an accident or inclement weather event, to keeping tabs on the ongoing health and safety of the vehicle and its parts. 

Verizon Connect

Verizon Connect Staff represents a team of professionals passionate about everything telematics. Get to hear about the latest trends, product features and industry best practices from the desk of Verizon Connect Staff.

Tags: Safety, Training

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