The benefits of a defensive driving course

defensive driving

In both our personal and professional lives, we often like to learn and refine different skillsets. So, why are many of us adverse to improving our driving skills? Driving is part and parcel of everyday life for so many people. Taking a defensive driving course can help to not only improve your driving skills, but also build self-confidence and prepare you for a range of different scenarios that could manifest at any time you are on the road.

What is a defensive driving course?

Defensive driving courses are primarily designed to help drivers get from A to B more safely. Depending on the course they usually provide both theory and practical lessons. Course content varies across both developing a strong understanding of vehicle dynamics, as well as fostering better attitudes and behaviours towards safe driving.

Who would benefit most from a defensive driving course?

In short, essentially anyone with a driver licence. In saying that, many of the courses designed to improve attitudes and behaviours are highly beneficial to younger drivers. However, there is something in defensive driving courses for everyone. Like anything in life, we can develop bad habits and defensive driving courses are primarily designed to eliminate such behaviours.

What do the experts say?

Opinions on defensive driving courses vary depending on who you speak to. For example, Government entities and the Police believe there is no substitute for young drivers learning the ropes on real roads with an experienced driver that cares about them. They also believe some defensive driving courses can instil in young people (particularly males) a false sense of confidence which can lead to erratic and potentially unsafe driving habits.

Whereas on the flipside, some professional drivers believe defensive driving courses can only help to further enhance a driver’s ability to be safe on the road. For example, Bathurst winner and advanced driving instructor Luke Youlden says such courses are nothing but beneficial for drivers at any level of proficiency, sighting the driving test as an inconclusive indicator of one’s driving proficiency.

“All we have to do to get our licence is a parallel park and a three-point turn. How many people actually die performing those two manoeuvres?”

Both sides make reasonable arguments and which side of the fence you sit on is up to you, but one thing that everyone should agree on, is that defensive driving courses offer benefits for drivers of all ages and proficiencies. You just need to assess your own unique needs.

So, what types of defensive driving courses can you take?

If you are looking to take advantage of the safety benefits associated with improving attitudes and behaviours, as well as gain a better understanding of vehicle dynamics, look for courses that address the following.

  • How your brain perceives hazards – think of this as developing a crystal ball that can predict the future. There are courses available that help you better recognise potential hazards before they occur.
  • Not being too confident – video games, movies and professional racing can sometimes embolden drivers to put the pedal to the metal but having a sense of overconfidence on real roads can quickly lead to life-altering mistakes.
  • Situational awareness – it is imperative that you’re aware of your surroundings. For example, children walking home from school, dogs walking along the footpath, a collection of cars in front of you all braking simultaneously, these are all clues or cues if you will, that something could potentially occur up ahead and to slow down.
  • Developing risk avoidance strategies – these courses help you with developing the means to stay patient, be calm and cool-headed regardless of the situation. Unexpected things occur on our roads every day and having the ability to stay calm in the face of disruption is invaluable.
  • Correcting a skid pan – these courses help you to better understand overall car control and control techniques including understeer and oversteer, and how to rectify an out-of-control skidding car.

The importance of driver safety cannot be overstated, and defensive driving courses help drivers of all ages and proficiencies keep our roads safe – we all have a role to play in minimising the number of road accidents.

Want to learn more? Read this article: Wet weather and driver safety: Do you know the basics?


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