Defensive Drivers

Looking Ahead

Defensive Driving skills are driving skills that allow you to defend yourself against possible collisions caused by other drivers, poor weather or obstacles. Looking ahead and around you helps identify potential hazards and act immediately in a timely fashion. Defensive drivers have acquired safe driving practices by honing the following driving skills:

  • Planning ahead and preparing to act
  • Controlling the speed of their vehicle
  • Having no expectations on what the other drivers around them might do.
  • Respecting other drivers on the road
  • Staying alert to weather conditions and changes
  • Knowing road conditions
  • Avoiding personal distractions such as a cell phone, food or makeup.
  • Following learned defensive driving tips

Avoid Making Assumptions

Defensive drivers don’t make assumptions about other drivers’ intentions. Other drivers in parked vehicles may not remain parked. Other drivers may not yield at intersections. Other drivers may not remain in their driving lane. Other drivers may not be sober or alert. Always expect other drivers to make mistakes.

Defensive drivers follow common traffic laws by driving at or below the posted speed limits, completing stops at lights and stop signs, following proper merging procedures and yielding to pedestrians.


Tips like the 3 Second Rule are practiced by defensive drivers. The 3 Second Rule suggests that their vehicle should pass a stationary object located on the side of the road no sooner than 3 seconds after the vehicle in front of them passed it. If the defensive driver is driving an SUV, he or she will add a second for weight. The defensive driver may also add another second because of poor weather or road conditions.

Staying Informed

Defensive drivers will encourage passengers to be alert. They will also put away their cell phone or any other personal items that may distract them.

Defensive drivers yield to aggressive drivers and will avoid confrontation. They are knowledgeable and stay informed. Visit HSE training for more information.

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