What Does Defensive Driving Mean?

Road safety is of course a top priority for any road user, whether you’re taking to UK roads by car, van, motorcycle, bike or on foot. According to the UK Government’s latest road safety data, there were an estimated 1,390 reported deaths on the road, with a further 119,850 casualties of varying severities. Whilst the latest statistics show an overall decrease in those killed or seriously injured as a result of a road traffic accident, it is up to motorists and their fellow road users to take safety matters into their own hands.

When it comes to honing your skills with road safety in mind, defensive driving has been billed as the go-to technique. For those of you not familiar with the style, we’ve devised the ultimate guide to defensive driving, the rewards that can be reaped for both safety and fuel saving, and how to transform your driving habits with defensive driving tactics.

What is defensive driving?

Defensive driving is more than just a buzz term for conscious road users and the agencies that aim to lower the number of injuries and fatalities on the road. It’s a driving style that calls on advanced driving techniques and has been proven to increase safety for everyone who uses UK roadways. By driving more defensively, you will anticipate the mistakes made by other road users to minimise their impact on you and your vehicle.

Whilst you can never really fully predict how another road user will react, anticipating risk and acting immediately will serve every road user well. With this in mind, everyone can benefit from the advanced driving techniques taught on a defensive driving course, with tactics giving drivers the skills and knowledge to promote safe driving, enhance their awareness and prevent accidents. 

What are the benefits of defensive driving?

Now that we understand the meaning of defensive driving, the next step is to explore its benefits.  The main advantage of using defensive driving tactics is to reduce the likelihood of being involved in a road traffic accident. With increased awareness behind each and every move you make on the road, you can avoid the potentially life-threatening situations that less cautious road users find themselves in. 

By preparing for the worst-case scenario at all times, you can also reduce stress when driving, promoting a calmer, panic-free, more satisfying way to drive. Remember, there’s no such thing as being over prepared! It’s not just road traffic accidents that you’ll reduce with defensive driving. Defensive drivers are less likely to incur driving fines, speeding tickets and other penalties related to poor or unconscientious driving.

Defensive driving habits are also better for your vehicle. In contrast, more aggressive drivers put unnecessary strain on their vehicles, making wear, tear and expensive repairs more common. Your defensive driving habits will enhance the fuel efficiency of your vehicle too, saving you further money. Along with saving money in the short term, your vehicle will be in a better, safer and more efficient condition for its annual service or MOT, and for its future sale.

Defensive driving courses are increasingly popular choices for the reasons mentioned above. As a result, they are now being recognised by insurers as a positive step forward for road safety. In fact, many car insurance policies reward those who adopt the safe driving habits promoted by defensive driving.

Defensive driving – how do I get started?

There are a number of steps you can take to become a more defensive driver. Managing the space around your vehicle more effectively and proactively as well as acknowledging the presence of other road users, beyond your fellow drivers on the road, is a great place to begin. You should also use your vehicle’s mirrors and signals to encourage better visibility and communication on the road.

Managing the speed of your vehicle is another must when driving defensively. By going slow and steady, you’ll have time and space to react as safely as possible.

You should abide to and be fully aware of the latest traffic rules and laws, including legal speed limits and regulations regarding impaired driving. Staying fully alert and aware so you can spot unexpected hazards and react accordingly in plenty of time is a key principle of defensive driving. This applies even in instances where the weather conditions change suddenly.

The best advice we can give prospective defensive drivers is to only trust yourself and your own safe driving abilities. Whilst you can anticipate how other road users will react, you can never know for sure what their real response will be. By controlling your own actions with safety in mind, you can minimise risk, even if other road users aren’t as aware of defensive driving as you are.

Is it worth doing a defensive driving course?

We may have covered the basics of defensive driving here, but there are many more advanced driving techniques that form part of this style. A defensive driving course is a great choice, no matter how much experience you have as a driver. New drivers, experienced drivers and individuals who drive for a living can all benefit from enrolling on a defensive driving course.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) offers a number of useful training programmes, including defensive driving courses, that support car, van and LGV drivers in developing their skills and reducing the risk of road traffic accidents.

Get your vehicle ready for more defensive driving

We have range of options at our Waterlooville garage which are great to get your car or van perfect for defensive driving. You can update your tyres to make them more reliable, renew your brakes for extra security – the choice is yours!