Being safe on the road is a shared responsibility. It relies on both you and other drivers staying alert and focused as you drive to your destination. It sounds easy enough, but in the U.S., road accidents are still the leading cause of death for those aged 1-54.

As its name suggests, defensive driving refers to a specific set of strategies that help you avoid dangerous collisions. The National Safety Council defines defensive driving as “driving to save lives, time and money in spite of the conditions around you and actions of others.” Essentially, a defensive driver aims to reduce to risk of auto accidents by driving predictably and anticipating the mistakes of others.

What does defensive driving look like?

Many defensive driving techniques are just common sense, but people tend to forget or disregard these techniques when they get out on the road. In a standard defensive driving course, some of the more popular skills taught include:

  • Staying alert and concentrating
  • Scanning and identifying hazards on the road
  • Quickly deciding the best course of action
  • Perception and reaction time
  • Never assuming the actions of others
  • Dealing with psychological factors like road rage
  • The effects of drivers under the influence
  • Properly using car safety gear

What are the benefits of taking a defensive driver course?

Aside from feeling safer behind the wheel, taking a defensive driver course can save you a great deal of money. While some drivers are ordered by the court to take a defensive driving course after a traffic violation, others will do so voluntarily for the insurance perks.

Drivers in Washington who receive a minor traffic ticket may be eligible to have the violation dismissed with a defensive driving course. This means you can avoid having that violation on your record as well as avoid your insurance rates going up.

Road accidents may be common, but many are also avoidable. While no one has the ability to predict when or how an accident will occur, being a defensive driver means you’ll be less likely to get in an accident or receive a ticket.