what is defensive driving?

It can mean many things to different people — but what is a defensive driver, exactly? And why does it pay (quite literally) to take a defensive driving course? We'll cover that and more.

Defensive driving is a manner of driving that helps reduce collisions, and thereby save lives, time, and money. This is achieved by maintaining an awareness of road conditions, such as slowing traffic or construction ahead, as well as anticipating potential hazards, like erring drivers or bad weather.

what are some examples of defensive driving?

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, more than 90 percent of all vehicle crashes are the result of driver error. That's why 2 of the main precepts of defensive driving are self-discipline and not putting absolute faith in the hands of your fellow drivers. That said, here are some examples of defensive driving techniques:

  • Scanning the road as far down as you can and frequently checking your mirrors
  • Increasing your distance around swerving or aggressive drivers
  • Eliminating distractions like talking on your phone or text messaging
  • Always being visible to other drivers and avoiding their blind spots
  • Always having an escape plan in the event a driver in front of you suddenly slams on the brakes, a vehicle drifts into your lane, or someone runs a red light
  • Maintaining a calm and positive attitude while you're behind the wheel
  • Making defensive driving a driving habit

what does a standard defensive driving course entail?

The details of a basic defensive driving course may differ from state to state, since each are tailored around local laws. But most driving improvement courses provide similar information, including:

  • Statistics related to traffic collisions. For instance, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, there were more than 32,000 fatal crashes reported in 2015 — and 40 states (including D.C.) reported blood-alcohol levels in roughly 70 percent of those cases.
  • How to overcome psychological roadblocks like anxiety, road rage, or drowsiness. In addition, most defensive driver training includes techniques on how to improve focus, awareness, and a positive attitude behind the wheel.
  • The effects of alcohol and drugs on judgment and motor skills. This section usually touches on state laws for blood-alcohol levels, as well as the legal ramifications of being found guilty for driving while intoxicated.
  • The importance of car safety equipment, such as seat belts, air bags, child safety seats, and head rests.
  • The dynamics of a collision, including how factors like speed, point of impact, and vehicle size can impact the severity of a crash.
  • Traffic laws in your county and state.

what are the benefits of taking a defensive driving course?

For one, there's the obvious benefit of significantly improving your driving skills and being much more at-ease behind the wheel. But also, if you've received a traffic ticket, you can often score a reduction of points on your drivers license when you successfully complete a safety class from your local authority (depending on your state). These courses can even help certain offenders avoid a revoked drivers license altogether.

Likewise, driving school could help minimize an increase in your auto insurance premium, following a traffic incident (depending on the type and severity).

Many states also allow drivers to attend defensive driving school even without a traffic incident. Since insurance rates begin to creep up when drivers reach a certain age (usually around 50 or 55), older drivers who successfully complete a driving course may see their rates go down. At Esurance, for instance, a Defensive Driving discount could save you up to 10 percent off certain coverages.

The benefits for safe driving here at Esurance

As part of our commitment to rewarding safe drivers, Esurance policyholders could save up to 40 percent off their premium with our Good Driver discount. As long as you have a valid drivers license for at least 3 years with one or zero penalty points on your driving record, you could see some significant savings begin to stack up.

Plus, in some states Esurance offers a Good Student discount to full-time students under 25 who maintain a 3.0 GPA or higher. It's part of our belief that when the mind stays sharp, smart driving usually follows.

make sure you’re protected with reliable car insurance

Even if you're the most defensive driver of them all, accidents can and do still happen. That's where Esurance comes in — with affordable rates, 24/7 claims service, and a wide range of coverage options that help safeguard you in a variety of ways.

Get a quick, free auto quote today or give us a call at 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262), where our licensed agents are available to address any of your questions or concerns.

Driving danger zones and how to safely navigate them
Learn these useful tips to help you dodge danger zones and avoid accidents.

4 bad driving habits you can fix
Show your car (and wallet) some love by avoiding these bad driving habits.

Get your free quote online

or call 1-800-378-7262