Getting the Most Out of Defensive Driving

Defensive DrivingAdmit it. If you’re sitting in a defensive driving class, you probably received a speeding ticket. You don’t want your auto insurance premium to go up. The defensive driving class is just another layer of punishment. (By the way, if you don’t know it, you can rent a DVD of the class or take it online. It’s still all a matter of passing the test and getting the certificate.)

However, there is a powerful message you should be taking away from the class, no matter how you complete the material. You may be a terrific driver, but there is absolutely nothing you can do about how other people drive. The point of the class is to protect you and your vehicle from them. That’s why it’s called “defensive” driving.

Some of the things you are trying to accomplish with continuing driver’s education include:

- preserving the safety of your passengers.
- protecting your investment in your vehicle.
- proactively avoiding incidents and accidents.
- improving key abilities including: control, anticipation, and observation.

Additionally, you learn to cultivate an even temperament. Road rage incidents always involve two people. The person who loses their cool and the one who reacts. You do not want to react in a negative way to anything behind the wheel.

All good defensive driving classes emphasize:

- Preparation. Take care of your car. Maintain fluid levels (principally oil, gas, and coolant) and monitor proper tire pressure. Make sure you have the basic tools for tire changes and, given the climate in which you life, proper emergency supplies.

- Visibility. Stay out of other car’s blind spots. Most drivers see about 10% of the cars around them. Make use of your lights, even in daylight. Make sure that you are seeing and being seen.

- Space. Don’t crowd other drivers. Pick a landmark on the side of the road. Start counting when the car ahead of you passes. “One one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand.” Anything under three seconds and you’re too close. If the weather is bad, count to five.

All defensive driving courses will speak specifically to the laws of the state in which you are licensed. This is valuable information and all good drivers should stay abreast of changes in traffic laws.

In order to get the most our of your defensive driving training and to minimize your resentment to and resistance for the process, remember that any skill that helps you to be an alert, involved driver is to your financial advantage. You’re not just keeping you auto insurance premium at the lowest level possible, you’re minimizing your out-of-pocket expenses for either repairing or replacing your vehicle in the event of an accident.

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