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Encyclopedia > Defensive driving
The two-second rule tells a defensive driver the minimum distance to avoid collision in ideal driving conditions. The red car's driver picks a tree to judge a two-second safety buffer.
The two-second rule tells a defensive driver the minimum distance to avoid collision in ideal driving conditions. The red car's driver picks a tree to judge a two-second safety buffer.

Defensive driving is a form of training for motor vehicle drivers that goes beyond mastery of the rules of the road and the basic mechanics of driving. Its aim is to reduce the risk of driving by anticipating dangerous situations, despite adverse conditions or the mistakes of others. This can be achieved through adherence to a variety of general rules, as well as the practice of specific driving techniques. Image File history File links Question_book-3. ... Image File history File links Emblem-important. ... Wikibooks logo Wikibooks, previously called Wikimedia Free Textbook Project and Wikimedia-Textbooks, is a wiki for the creation of books. ... two-second-rule diagram Created in Adobe Illustrator by Jeremy Kemp, 2/8/05 File links The following pages link to this file: Defensive driving Categories: Free use images ... two-second-rule diagram Created in Adobe Illustrator by Jeremy Kemp, 2/8/05 File links The following pages link to this file: Defensive driving Categories: Free use images ... Image:Three-second-rule diagram. ... For other uses, see Driving (disambiguation). ... In an accident resulting from excessive speed, this concrete truck rolled over into the front garden of a house. ...

Contents

Choose good equipment

  • Bland colors (gray, silver, tan) are urban camouflage. Dark colors, including red, are difficult to see in dim light (thus the newer non-red fire engines).
  • Have a low center of mass.
  • Have a four-wheel drive system with a center differential to balance forces between front and rear.
  • Avoid tinted windows.

In physics, the center of mass of a system of particles is a specific point at which, for many purposes, the systems mass behaves as if it were concentrated. ... This article is about the class of vehicles. ... In an automobile and other four-wheeled vehicles, a differential is a device, usually consisting of gears, that allows each of the driving wheels to rotate at different speeds, while supplying equal torque to each of them. ...

Before you drive

  • Check tire pressure, tread, and condition. Low tire pressure can cause tires to fail at high speeds.
  • Check, and clean if necessary, all windows, mirrors, and lenses.
  • Check and replace, as necessary, all lights (headlights, tail lights, turn signal lights, and brake lights -- this will require either a reflective surface or a second person who watches at the light).
  • Check oil, fuel, and water levels before taking long trips.
  • Check the mechanical condition of the vehicle at least annually. This inspection should be done by someone who is mechanically qualified. It should include inspection of the brakes, suspension, steering gear, and exhaust system, as well as the engine, drive line, and body.
  • Check that mirrors, seat, and steering column are suitably positioned.
  • It is required by law in some jurisdictions that the driver ensures all seat belts are locked and children are secure before starting the engine.
  • Lock all doors.
  • Check gauges after starting the engine.
  • Secure all loose objects inside the vehicle or move them into the trunk. Make a visual circle check of vehicle before moving. Try to park where reversing is not required.
  • Indicate with turn signals and check for traffic before moving away from the road shoulder.
  • Keep all car documents updated and reachable.
  • Be prepared for variable traffic and weather conditions.
  • Be courteous to other drivers.
  • Avoid road rage. Don't drive while angry or upset.
  • Know if the car has anti-lock brakes or not, and how you should respond to braking differently depending on your braking system.

Firestone tire This article is about pneumatic tires. ... Power windows or electric windows are automobile windows which can be raised and lowered by depressing a button or switch, as opposed to using a hand-turned crank handle. ... This article is about the optical device. ... Synthetic motor oil For other uses, see Oil (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Fuel (disambiguation). ... Impact from a water drop causes an upward rebound jet surrounded by circular capillary waves. ... The rear-view mirror of a Mazda 626. ... A car seat usually refers to a small seat secured to the seat of an automobile equipped with safety harnesses to hold children in the event of a crash. ... The Steering column is the column that steers. ... This article is about the safety device. ... In engineering, a gauge is used to make measurements. ... The lighting system of a motor vehicle consists of lighting and signalling devices mounted or integrated to the front, sides and rear of the vehicle. ... Road rage is a term used to refer to violent behavior by a driver of an automobile, which thus causes accidents or incidents on roadways. ... An anti-lock braking system (ABS) (translated from German, Antiblockiersystem) is a system on motor vehicles which prevents the wheels from locking while braking. ...

See and be seen

  • Scan the road well ahead and anticipate upcoming events. Look for tell-tale vehicle signals; brake-lights, indicators and be prepared to react, but don't always expect them to be used. Watch for 'urgent' vehicle movement up ahead that can signal trouble.
  • Keep an eye on faster rear-closing traffic, and don't pull out in front of it.
  • Use headlights at all times, even during the day, if the vehicle is not equipped with DRLs.
  • Keep windows clean, especially when driving at night.
  • Adjust rear-view mirrors correctly.
  • Keep your distance when driving behind large vehicles, to keep your line of sight clear.
  • Don't drive in large packs on the highway; try to either lead the pack or be behind the group. The bunching of groups of cars is due to undisciplined driving style and traffic light systems.
  • Keep windows clear and transparent. Avoid tinting, stick-on toys, light shades, dangling fuzzy cubes, and the like.
  • Drive with hands positioned at 9 and 3 o' clock, or at the 10 and 2 o' clock position. This has been shown to be the most comfortable position for long time driving as well as the easiest to maneuver in reaction time.
  • Do not talk on a cell phone while driving.
  • Do not drive in the blind spot of other vehicles.
  • Always use your turn signals well in advance whenever making a turn or lane change.
  • Activate your hazard-warning lights on approach to a crash scene or unexpected on-road obstruction in order to improve the alert/warning given to other drivers further behind. Keep the hazard warning lights continually on - if you are stopped, or if you will need to stop. (See the "Crash Scene" text below).
  • If equipped, use your vehicle's rear fog lamp when driving in hazardous weather conditions causing seriously reduced visibility, such as heavy fog, torrential rain, blizzards and when driving in dust storms. Switch off the rear fog light the moment visibility improves.
  • Actively scan for and anticipate the movements of pedestrians, bicycles, motorcycles, animals, and be aware of all signs that warn you of dangers ahead, objects on the road, and potholes.
  • Drive so that you can safely stop in the visible amount of road ahead, using at least the 2-second rule and preferably more.
  • Beware of blind intersections. If your view of traffic on cross streets is obstructed by buildings or trees, take your foot off the accelerator and place it over the brake - to reduce your reaction time.
  • Don't drive too slow or too fast; doing so will increase the likelihood of collision.
  • At traffic signals when starting off; ensure you have checked side roads beforehand - other drivers may not necessarily obey their traffic lights!
  • Never do a U-turn on a motorway class road. The potential for disaster is very high, and is an offense in some jurisdictions.

This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Daytime Running Lamps (DRL, also Daylight Running Lamps, Daytime Running Lights) are lighting devices on the front of roadgoing motor vehicles, automatically switched on when the vehicle is moving forward, and intended to increase the conspicuity of the vehicle during daylight conditions. ... Window film, also called window tint, is transparent plastic film or metallic laminate which is applied to glass windows. ... The blue cars driver sees the green car through his mirrors but cannot see the red car without turning to check his blind spot. ... Look up Pedestrian in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... For other uses, see Bicycle (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Motorcycle (disambiguation). ...

Assume the worst in others

  • Never trust an indicator; expect that a vehicle indicating that it is about to turn, may not do so.
  • Similarly, expect that a vehicle which is apparently not turning may turn.
  • Assume that stop signals will be ignored by others and be prepared for it. Beware of a stale green light.
  • Expect that a red traffic light will be "run" (so don't take off too quickly on your green light).
  • Assume that any and all other drivers have not seen your vehicle.
  • Assume that any and all other drivers are not capable of preventing an accident.
  • Watch for drivers talking on cell phones while driving and be aware that their driving skills are severely diminished, even greater than a drunk driver. They often drive through stop signs and traffic signals, change lanes without warning and are probably unaware of their surroundings.
  • At intersections never assume that you have the right of way.

Maintain an exit route

  • Keep the space on either side of your car free. Leave yourself an out.
  • Drive in the outer lane on freeways. In case of a problem, you won't have to cross a lane of traffic to get to the shoulder. Be aware that the left lane is used for passing. Continue to yield its use to faster moving drivers.
  • Keep wheels straight when waiting to turn across oncoming traffic. If your car is rear-ended, it won't be pushed into the opposite lane.

For specific systems, such as the Autobahns of Germany, see list of highway systems with full control of access and no cross traffic. ... A hard shoulder, or simply shoulder, is a reserved area by the verge of a road or motorway. ...

Avoid danger

  • Do not drive next to large vehicles longer than necessary. The driver may not see you, and a turning truck can suddenly cut off all exit routes.
  • Maintain a three second following distance behind other vehicles. Increase that to five seconds in fog, rain, or other adverse conditions. It takes most people at least half a second to react to an emergency condition. Following a car closer than one second effectively guarantees an accident if the leading car brakes unexpectedly.
  • Conversely, change lanes or pull over if tailgated. If that is not possible, slow down, and / or maintain extra distance to the car in front, to allow for both yourself and the tailgater to stop safely.
  • Avoid visibly damaged or defective cars. A history of accidents indicates that the owner has poor driving skills.
  • Avoid cars that weave, do not stay in their lane, brake too late at intersections, stop abruptly, or respond slowly to traffic signals. The drivers of such vehicles may be intoxicated or distracted.
  • Never drive over any object on the road that can be safely avoided -- a plastic bag can conceal more dangerous items, ropes can wrap around axles, and even mundane objects like sticks can puncture a tire or the fuel tank.
  • On roads of 3 or more lanes, take care not to change lanes as another vehicle in the next one over moves into that lane. Vehicles in the left lane and the right lane can collide if they try to change to the center lane simultaneously. In most jurisdictions, you are required on motorway category roads to be in the outside lane if it is clear of traffic - regardless of speed, only merging then to the middle lane or lanes, and/or the inner (central median area) lane to overtake. You must then return to the outside lane once you have passed traffic, if it is clear and safe to do so. Even when not required by law, it is dangerous driving on the inside lane continuously. If a faster vehicle comes up from behind you, they are more likely to be on the inside lane. Remember 95% of fatal collisions on a undivided four lane highway occur in the inside lane and that you can avoid this danger by simply driving in the outside lane.
  • Always Stop, Look and Listen at railroad crossings with no lighted signal. At crossings that have signals slow down and make sure your visual distance of the track is adequate, in case the signal is not working properly.
  • Be wary of learning drivers as they are far less experienced than most other drivers on the road. They may stop or turn abruptly without necessarily paying due attention to where you are.
  • The side view mirrors on either sides extend beyond the vehicles body. Always keep a safe distance from adjacent vehicles on jam-packed roads to avoid colliding the side-view mirror with that of the vehicle on your left (or right).

For other uses, see Truck (disambiguation). ... Reaction time, in humans, is the elapsed time between the receiving of stimuli and the subsequent reaction. ... For socializing before a sporting event, see Tailgate party. ... The Drunkenness of Noah by Giovanni Bellini Drunkenness is the state of being intoxicated by consumption of alcohol to a degree that mental and physical facilities are noticeably impaired. ...

Crash and vehicle break-down scenes

  • Approach a broken-down vehicle or crash scene with caution, but do not be distracted by it. Watch for pedestrians and wandering animals at the scene.
  • If your vehicle develops mechanical or tire trouble and begins to slow, drive it to the side of the road as far as possible from traffic.

If your vehicle breaks-down on the road in an exposed position, or for crashed vehicles blocking the road:

  • Activate the vehicles hazard-warning lights.
  • Immediately, switch off the ignition of immobilized crashed vehicles to reduce risk of fire.
  • Have passengers leave the vehicle if and when it is safe to do so, and keep them well clear of traffic. Appreciate that a stationary vehicle can be pushed many meters by impacting traffic.
  • Wear a bright, reflective safety vest or shirt when attending to urgent traffic control duty. (UN Transport Division social policy item for all road users. A low cost, cheap life insurance item).
  • Carefully place a hazard-warning triangle to the side of the road, or side of an affected traffic lane to improve the alert-time given to approaching drivers of danger, if it is safe to do so, and as required by legislation in some jurisdictions. Within 'built-up areas' and on low-speed roads, place the triangle up to 50 meters away. Outside built-up areas on rural roads, place the triangle at 100 meters, for motorway class roads, 150 meters from the scene. Hold the triangle facing near-side approaching traffic when walking to place it, and when returning it to store, to aid in your pedestrian safety. In some countries, heavy vehicles are required to carry a set of three warning triangles and these are placed within the 50-150 meter range as appropriate and legislated. (Buy only a good quality triangle such as one complying with UN/ECE Regulation 27 in Transport).
  • Where legal to use; during an on-road emergency use a CB radio recognized 'road channel' to alert approaching traffic of danger. Some countries have dedicated CB radio emergency channels that might be useful for raising help should other methods fail.
  • Avoid working on the traffic side of your vehicle.
  • Avoid any naked flames or electrical items where the potential risk of a spark exists. Example: that caused by the momentary separation of battery from its device near flammable petroleum products!
  • Watch carefully all approaching traffic for potential loss of vehicular control and be prepared to get out of the way.

Training and Courses

Because of the increased need for an awareness and practice of defensive driving, several government agencies and non profit organizations have launched specialty courses that improve the public's driving skills. In the United States a few of the familiar courses in defensive driving include Alive at 25, DDC or Defensive Driving Course, Coaching the Mature Driver, Attitudinal Dynamics of Driving, Professional Truck Driving, and DDC for Instructors. In relation to this, the government has launched active Air Bag and seat Belt safety campaigns that encourage High Visibility Enforcement.


Instructors have specialized courses that tackle various aspect of defensive driving like

  • Emergency Care
  • Specialty Vehicle courses that tackle specialized vehicles like ambulances, fire trucks, police cars, vans and lift trucks.
  • Roadway work courses on Flagging and the design and supervision of Temporary Traffic Control.
  • OSHA Compliance
  • Principles of Safety
  • Fleet Safety
  • On-site Emergency Response Planning
  • Safety Communication and Training Techniques.
  • Smith System Advanced Defensive Driving Course

See also

Passive safety redirects here. ... Road-traffic safety aims to reduce the harm (deaths, injuries, and property damage) resulting from crashes of road vehicles traveling on public roads. ... Institute of Advanced Motorists logo The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) is a charity based in the United Kingdom whose objective is to improve car driving and motorcycle riding standards, and hence enhance road safety, through the proper use of a system of car/motorcycle control based on Roadcraft (commonly... The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) is a British charity which aims to promote safety in all fields. ... Roadcraft can refer to the system of car or motorcycle control outlined in the books Roadcraft: The Police Drivers Handbook ,Motorcycle Roadcraft: The Police Riders Handbook or to the books themselves. ...

External links


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