How to be a Defensive Driver

Being a motorist not only means keeping your car in good road-worthy condition but also knowing how to keep yourself and your passengers safe on the roads. It doesn’t matter how good a driver you think you are, you also have to anticipate what other motorists are going to do next. Whilst you can’t control what other drivers do, you can learn how to react safely.

Don’t trust too much

Many drivers put their trust in others too readily. For example, when someone flashes their headlights signalling that it’s safe to proceed. We often take this at face value and proceed, when in actual fact, the Highway Code states we must not do this. Strictly speaking, a flashing of lights means the same as sounding your horn and not that it’s safe to come through. There could always be the time that the other driver hasn’t reacted correctly, and it is indeed not safe to proceed.

Observe and plan ahead

Being a defensive driver means always being observant, knowing when to anticipate problems and looking well ahead. Do you see dustbins along the road? Could this mean a dustbin lorry around the corner? Are you passing a narrow line of parked cars? Could someone step out or open a door? Being aware of potential hazards and continually observing your surroundings can prepare you better for a time when you need to react quickly.

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Keep your car roadworthy

It’s not just other drivers you need to aware of but also the safety of your own vehicle. Don’t drive when you know there are faults or repairs that need completing. Also make sure you have valid insurance, tax and an up-to-date MOT. For a Gloucester MOT, visit

Indicators are not always what they seem

Never take an indicator signal as definite until you see the vehicle manoeuvre in that direction. No action has been confirmed until you see it, and drivers often leave an indicator on by accident or have a sudden change of mind at the last moment.

Keep your distance

Imagine a safety bubble around your vehicle. Your aim is to keep ample distance between you and the vehicles around you so that you have ample reaction time when others make errors. You can never be sure that those around you aren’t distracted or are going to follow the rules of the road to the letter.

Never feel uncomfortable

If you experience a driver behind you who is driving too close or erratically, when you can safely do so, pull over and let them pass. Don’t ever feel pressured to drive in a way you don’t feel comfortable with and remember it’s about getting to your destination in one piece and not a race. You can’t be responsible for the driving of others, but you can keep yourself safe. Don’t get drawn into aggressive driving or tailgating as this only increases the risk of being involved in an accident.

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