The standard Safe Practices for Motor Vehicle Operations, ANSI/ASSE Z15.1, defines defensive driving as “driving to save lives, time, and money, in spite of the conditions around you and the actions of others.” This definition is taken from the National Safety Council’s Defensive Driving Course. It is a form of training for motor vehicle drivers that goes beyond mastery of the rules of the road and the basic mechanics of driving. Its aim is to reduce the risk of collision by anticipating dangerous situations, despite adverse conditions or the mistakes of others. This can be achieved through adherence to a variety of general rules, as well as the practice of specific driving techniques.
Drivers can help ensure their safety by paying extra attention to other drivers on the road. Other drivers may not always do what is expected of them. Drivers should be able to adapt to weather conditions and plan ahead for extra travel time if needed. Remaining alert and avoiding distractions is a major safeguard while operating a vehicle. Cellphone use is becoming one of the leading causes of traffic accidents in the United States. The National Safety council’s annual injury and fatality report revealed that cellphones cause 26% of US car accidents.
Several government agencies, non profit organizations, and private schools have launched specialty courses that improve the public’s driving skills. In the United States a few of the familiar courses in defensive driving include Alive at 25, DDC or Defensive Driving Course, Coaching the Mature Driver, Attitudinal Dynamics of Driving, Professional Truck Driving, and DDC for Instructors. In relation to this, the government has launched active Air Bag and seat Belt safety campaigns that encourage High Visibility Enforcement.
In addition to improving one’s own driving skills, many U.S. states provide an incentive to complete an approved defensive driving course by offering mandated insurance discounts or a way to mask a traffic ticket from one’s driving record. In some instances these courses are referred to as traffic school or a defensive driving school. States with the biggest incentives include Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, and Texas. A number of private providers offer a variety of courses. The methods and styles of the courses vary.
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