The goal of defensive driving is to help vehicle operators react safely and predictably to hazardous or unexpected road conditions. Beyond simply obeying traffic laws, defensive drivers can adapt to the conditions on the road in a way that reduces risks and helps improve the overall safety of the situation. Defensive driving has several important components, including utilizing specific vehicle capabilities, maintaining situational awareness, and countering psychological factors.
The most important reason to practice defensive driving is safety; as more people improve their awareness and learn how to react properly to unexpected situations, the overall risk of collisions and injuries diminishes. Additionally, some states reduce ticket penalties for drivers who complete a defensive driving course. A good traffic ticket lawyer or insurance agent may recommend such a course for high-risk drivers, including teenagers or those with moving violations.
There are several physical driving techniques that can help people react safely to hazardous road conditions, severe weather, and dangerous drivers. Some tips are preparatory in nature: wear a seatbelt, practice controlling speed in various conditions, and avoid distractions, such as texting, while driving. Other techniques are reactive: respect other drivers and pedestrians and react safely even when they don't follow the rules of the road.
Mental and emotional factors also play a role in effective defensive driving. It's inherent to maintain a clear mental state while on the road and avoid driving when emotionally compromised or overly tired. Of course, people should also avoid driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Good drivers can maintain a positive attitude even in stressful situations, allowing them to avoid road rage and chaotic reactions.