Defensive driving can be a foggy term. But the more drivers understand it, the easier it is to become a better insurance prospect.

“Getting defensive” on the road may conjure images of drivers under attack. In many ways, they are, but the term doesn’t refer to people losing their cool and yelling across lanes. Defensive driving is about accepting road risk as a constant factor and that anyone behind the wheel must think ahead.

Some drivers are unsure of how to define this concept. This is because how we drive defensively on Monday may be different on Tuesday. It’s a fluid skill—as fluid as events on the road—and, when done right, it makes motorists self-aware, aware of others, and able to adapt to both immediate and anticipated situations quickly.

The core defensive driving skills

Every driver wants to protect themselves, but doing so successfully requires more than a rote following of the basic rules. Defensive driving skills are part commonsense and part strategy formed by constantly evolving information.

Consider how often roads are under construction, with redirected lanes, traffic cones, and construction personnel in vulnerable positions. This is a defensive driving situation, where motorists must be keenly aware of how they’re traversing this changeable environment.

Weather conditions are another example. In rain, sleet, snow, or wind, drivers must do more than get from A to B. They must be constantly aware of how the elements are changing the road beneath them and impacting the drivers around them, and what this means for stopping distance, visibility, and other factors.

Driving defensively means having an “out” at all times; an alternate route you can take no matter what the driver ahead of you does. Even if that out is simply stopping in place with clear distance between those ahead and behind, it will provide enough safety and thinking time to decide on the next move.

Further defensive tactics

Deeper defensive skills include being as upright in the driver’s seat as possible. This can increase your range of vision by a critical inch, which may prevent a collision. Active vision is an important factor and a delicate one to balance. Drivers should never have a fixed, static field of view. Moving your eyes around the environment (while still paying full attention to the road, of course) helps maintain alertness, so check mirrors regularly, at the very least.

Today’s drivers have a bad habit of distracting themselves with mobile devices and other media. Distracted driving makes defensive driving impossible and reduces drivers to reactive victims. This kind of accident has surged by 86 percent in NY state. Don’t become part of that statistic.

Defensive driving also means never assuming that others are equally attentive. It may seem like an unnecessary chore to click your indicator light, slow down a little, or do other basic best practices if it seems obvious what you’re about to do. Never neglect simple steps; the drivers around you may be paying zero attention, and your indicator light may be necessary to wake them up.

Defensive driving should become a qualified experience

Drivers shouldn’t rely too much on the commonsense part of defensive driving. No matter how many years you’ve been on the road, we recommend New York State-approved defensive driving courses.

These classes can save you up to 10% on your auto insurance. And a completed course is good for three years, so the savings can be substantial. Courses are provided in person, in a classroom format, or can be taken online. Most online courses allow you the flexibility to start, stop, and then resume where you left off at your convenience.

We have reviewed a few online course providers and found one that we feel to be the most reasonable. Traffic School by Improv Comedy Club is an entertaining course that allows you 30 days to complete it from the time you begin, giving you maximum flexibility. Follow this link to learn more. Plus, they have given us a promo code to share with our clients to receive a discounted rate. Just enter the code NICRIS5 at checkout.

What's the Deal with Defensive Driving?

These courses provide excellent content that goes beyond road rules and even advanced strategy. They also teach drivers to put anxiety, drowsiness, road rage, and other triggers into perspective. Emotional and psychological factors often create their own problems when there’s no immediate danger present.

Far from the images “defensive” may invoke, a defensive driver is far calmer and more reasonable than their peers. The road would be a much safer place if every motorist drove this way.

Speak to the NICRIS team for even greater peace of mind

The one-time price of a defensive driving course in NY may be well worth the savings in premiums and in helping to keep drivers safer. Our team can take both factors even further by helping you find the most cost-effective auto insurance for your needs and standing by to answer any questions you have about policies. Connect with us at the link below.

NICRIS Insurance focuses on providing clients with the appropriate suite of products to protect them, their interests, and their loved ones. If you need some insurance advice or would like a free, personalized insurance review, just drop us a line.