Even on dull days, the shadows cast by a highway over-bridge is an excellent marker with which to check that your following distance is adequate.

Photograph copyright 2012 - All rights reserved


Defensive Driving and Advanced Driving What are the Differences?


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See also: Advanced Driving: What is it and what is it not?


The Benefits of Genuine Defensive- and Advanced Driver Training


ADA Courses and Grades


and: Bad Advice, Myths and Mistakes in Relation to Safe Driving

When done correctly, with maximum safety as the overriding goal, defensive driving and advanced driving are merely two different levels of the same discipline.

Defensive driving, however, is much less involved than advanced driving, and even though it is a very important step in developing a safe driver, it takes much less time to learn the necessary skills than is the case with advanced driving.  In addition, even though defensive driving is not entirely a passive skill, proper advanced driving should be thought of as being a much more involved and more complex task.

At the most basic, defensive driving level, a competent person should certainly know and reliably do all of the following tasks:

  • Daily vehicle checks;

  • Weekly vehicle checks (including how to find the correct pressure/s for the tires);

  • Understand why and when to use a parking brake (wrongly a.k.a. the "emergency brake").

  • Understand how to hold and use the steering wheel for maximum safety;

  • Understand and use headlights (or DRLs) for conspicuity, not just for vision;

  • Understand how to set the exterior mirrors for maximum safety;

  • Understand how to minimize danger caused by all of the blind spots on a vehicle;

  • Maintain accurate and appropriate control of speed;

  • Understand how speed affects overall stopping distances (e.g. what is the exact effect of, say, an extra 5mph)

  • Understand how road surface conditions affect overall stopping distances;

  • Understand and infallibly apply the correct, minimum following distances, based on road surface conditions;

  • Understand how to reduce the threat from vehicles that are tailgating you;

  • Understand how to reduce the threat from drivers who run red lights or fail to yield;

  • Use lateral safety gaps (a.k.a. "safety cushions" or "safety envelopes");

  • Understand the necessary variations in forward and lateral vision and, for example, never simply try to look, say, twelve seconds ahead of the car (or any other arbitrary distance)! 

  • Understand the meaning of all road signs and markings, and consistently assess and use all of that information;

  • Understand and comply with all state, provincial or national traffic laws;

  • And, last but not least, have a working insight into systematic safe driving.

A truly advanced driver must be willing and able, at all times, to drive fully in keeping with the definition of advanced driving as shown here, and must for example be rigorously capable of always using "vanishing points" and "limit points" to dictate maximum safe speeds (and , albeit briefly, these are commonly lower than the posted speed limits).  "Safety line positioning" and rigorous observations are also key to this demanding but immensely gratifying discipline.  Finally, there is the essential need to use the "System of Car Control" itself, and without significant, expert training this is simply not possible.

Remember that the "System of Car Control" advanced driving methodology has actually been developed to make it safe for highly-trained emergency-services drivers, such as police officers, to drive at extreme speeds on public roads without endangering themselves or other people. This is neither a "game" nor a simple task, but the beauty of it is that if it can make essential, high-speed drivers very safe it can certainly make all of us extremely safe when used within the regular, posted speed limits!

The defensive driving features shown above are by no means a complete list and the many specific requirements of advanced driving have not been comprehensively listed, either, or this would be a very long page, but this should at least give you some idea of the different levels involved.



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