What is Defensive Driving?

What is defensive driving?

Defensive driving is proactive, ‘thinking’ driving.

Drivers often find themselves going onto auto pilot and giving little thought to what is happening around them or what could happen. We take driving for granted and turn off from the risk because being involved in an accident, being killed or killing another road user is something which happens to other people, not to us.

Knowing the rules and following the Highway Code is not defensive driving. Although understanding the content of the Highway Code and implementing its guidance is a good starting point, it is not enough because not every road user will follow the Highway Code. For example, drivers who choose to go through red traffic lights, use their mobile phone, exceed the speed limit, follow other vehicles too closely and so on. These other road users may be putting you at risk even if you are following the rules.

Question: So what can you do to reduce your risk?

Answer: By learning and implementing defensive driving techniques you can reduce your risk. By starting to look further ahead and raising our awareness of other road users, our environment and ourselves we move from being a reactive driver to being proactive. For example, as a reactive driver we would have to brake harshly to avoid a collision as another driver fails to stop at a red light. However, as a proactive driver, having already noticed the speed of the other vehicle, anticipating it was not going to stop at the red light, we would have already slowed, stopped and avoided a collision.


Concentrate on your driving and avoid distractions such as mobile phones

Observation - be more aware by looking further ahead, all around and know what is happening behind you

Anticipate what you think may happen based upon what you see or cannot see

Space - move away from the danger by dropping back or changing position

Time - slow down to create the time you need. The higher the risk the slower the speed