As you’re teaching your teenager driver to be safe behind the wheel, it’s important to understand the truth behind defensive driving. That means exploring both the positive and negative points to this method of driving to help your teen cultivate the best possible mindset surrounding safe driving, granting them the confidence to safely navigate the road. Below, read a range of facts and statistics centering around defensive driving and you may just be surprised at what you learn!
What is Defensive Driving?
Defensive driving is driving in a manner that utilizes safe driving strategies that enable the operator of a vehicle to identify hazards in a predictable manner. Defensive driving employs five separate concepts:
- Follow basic traffic laws: Drivers that use defensive driving to to their advantage have an understanding that traffic laws are in place for good reason. This means that speed limits should be abided by and traffic signs and signals should be followed.
- The three second rule: This rule denotes that in order to drive safely, a vehicle should pass a stationary object on the side of the road no sooner than three seconds after the vehicle ahead of it has passed it. This is a commonly followed and regarded rule of driving, and it’s a precaution that safe defensive driving encourages.
- Minimizing distractions: One of the tenants of defensive driving is that drivers should prevent distractions while behind the wheel.
- Yield to aggressive drivers: Although many believe that driving defensively is the equivalent to being an aggressive driver, defensive driving – in reality – means yielding to drivers that take aggressive measures on the road. That means yielding to drivers that tailgate, swerve, or anyone who seems to have road rage.
- Be knowledgeable: Possessing knowledge of the rules of the road and the keys to safe driving is the final concept associated with defensive driving. Staying informed – whether you’re a new driver or someone who’s been driving for years – is key to remaining safe on the road.
Now that we’ve gone over the basics of defensive driving, let’s delve into the facts surrounding it.
Defensive Driving Facts and Statistics
- According to a study by Florida’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, graduates from a teen defensive driving school possessed cumulative crash rates 77% lower than the general 15-to-19-year-old population.
- Part of being a safe defensive driver means never assuming that you know what another driver will do.
- An effective defensive driving tip is to always watch the front wheels of a nearby car, which act as the first indication that the car may be unexpectedly changing directions.
- While 58% of all teen car crashes are attributed to distracted driving, the fact remains that those driving distracted are simply incapable of driving defensively. This is because those distractions prohibit drivers from identifying and successfully avoiding hazards on the road.
- One of the goals associated with defensive driving courses is to make drivers less reactionary and more proactive, reducing risk by avoiding dangers and teaching them to anticipate different situations on the road and giving them the tools to handle them efficiently and safely.
- Defensive drivers focus not only on the road directly ahead of them, but the road further up and will frequently check rear and side-view mirrors in order to identify hazards with enough time to figure out how to avoid them.
- There are financial incentives that accompany taking a defensive driving course. These include ticket dismissals and insurance discounts.
- In fact, some states offer a ten percent reduction rate in insurance rates for a period of three to five years for those who participate in a defensive driving course, which presents a significant savings.
- As mentioned, part of being a defensive driver means following the rules of the road, such as the speed limit and avoiding aggressive drivers. Over 50% of the five million yearly car crashes in the United States are caused by aggressive drivers, with speeding being the most prevalent contributor to this statistic.
- Defensive driving classes for seasoned and new drivers alike are known to teach students techniques designed to overcome mistakes while driving, increase driving skills overall, and to make informed decisions and anticipate a range of situations while driving.
- Defensive driving classes are frequently set up and even funded by state and local governments and police departments in order to make the roads safer.
- In an effort to make defensive driving courses more readily available to all drivers, many states have begun offering them virtually in addition to in the form of traditional, in-person classes.
- These courses teach drivers techniques to apply while driving in bad weather or adverse conditions. This includes tips on how to face these conditions when driving at night or on the highway.
- Learning to drive in suboptimal weather conditions is important, as the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) reports that out of nearly six million vehicular crashes that occur every year in the U.S., approximately 22 percent are weather-related.
- Showcasing their importance and popularity, driving safety giants such as AAA, the American Safety Council, the National Safety Council, and AARP all offer defensive driving courses.
- While some defensive driving courses focus heavily on safe driving techniques, others maintain a focus on the road regulations, traffic laws, and street signs prevalent in that particular state.
- The three basic elements of defensive driving are visibility, space, and communication.
- The art of defensive driving relies heavily on forming new driving habits. That means that cultivating these habits will take time and practice.
- According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 90 percent of vehicle crashes are attributed to driver errors. This is a statistic that defensive driving works to decrease.
- Being a safe defensive driver means being predictable. Use the indicators on a car correctly. For example, when putting on a left turn signal, turn left promptly. Educated defensive drivers aim to never do something that confuses other drivers on the road.
- Another successful defensive driver technique is to always know where you are headed when behind the wheel. This negates the need to stop short or suddenly and it also diminishes the need to drive too slowly. If a situation arises where you’re unsure of what direction to drive in, pull over and regain your bearings before pulling back onto the road.
- Defensive driving classes aimed at 15 to 24 year old drivers frequently focus on common causes of crashes and how to avoid them, such as following other cars too closely, excessive speeding, a failure to stay in the correct lane, and failure to yield the right of way.
- Defensive driving techniques warn against tailgating, which is cited by the Highway’s Agency as a contributing factor in more than one third of all car crashes on the road.
- Traits of aggressive drivers are those who frequently break the speed limit, weave in and out of lanes, break the rules of the road, and tailgate other drivers.
- To counter the above fact, traits of well-trained defensive drivers are those who leave space for others to pass, appropriately use their signal when turning or changing lanes, yield to other drivers looking to merge, and diligently check blind spots before switching lanes.
These defensive driving facts present the truth of the matter: defensive driving techniques encourage drivers to avoid those with aggressive tendencies on the road and to be proactive, safe, and thoughtful each time they get behind the wheel. Encourage your teen driver to take a defensive driving course to become the best driver they can and to gain confidence behind the wheel.
For more information on protecting your teen, check out Focus by TeenDrive!