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Defensive driving

Rob Furniss June 2014


I'm not a driving instructor - normal or defensive and I don't profess to be an expert, I have no affiliations with any companies offering instruction either. I just happen to have been on a defensive driving course many years ago organised by a previous employer - they put all their company car drivers through the course and it did bring down the number of accidents. It was run by a very experienced ex police instructor who kept hurling a number of phrases at me and they've stuck in my head to this day. I'm glad to have taken part and if you get the opportunity to go on one of these courses my advice would be to take it.

Anticipate - keep an eye on vehicles ahead and play a guessing game with yourself and try to anticipate what they are about to do before they do it instead of just sitting there in your lane day dreaming. It will keep you awake and focused and improve your skills so that you react quicker to changing situations and can plan your move before having to react to someone else's at the last minute.


An early move's a wise move - sounds very simple but when exiting the freeway/motorway plan your exit and position yourself in the correct lane ahead of when you need to be there not at the last minute. Most accidents happen during lane changes and junction on/offs.

The same goes for moving to overtake, you've anticipated that the slower vehicle in the left lane is about to move over into yours so you plan your wise move early and move over before you have nowhere to go and have to slam on.

Three second rule - this may come as no surprise to you but a large number of people drive too close to the car in front, either because they are rushing and think this will make the car in front speed up or get out of the way or they aren't paying attention or just think they will never have an accident.

Let's face it if you run into the back of someone you were probably too close unless you really were keeping a good safe distance and Godzilla stomped on the car in front stopping it instantly.


It's a simple one that you will have heard before but here's a reminder - Look at the car in front and then pick an object for reference (tree, lamp post, motorway bridge but don't focus so hard that you hit the car in front!) and when the aforementioned in-front-car passes it, count to three - if you don't get to three you've either:

a) hit the car in front as you can't do two things at the same time (guys only of course - work on this and you will score brownie points when you master it)


b) your car has passed the reference point before getting to 3 - you are too close so back off a little and then chastise yourself (not out loud though)

Missiles - everyone of them

Don't expect that just because the other vehicles around you on the road are manned (or womanned) that there is actually someone behind the wheel who knows what they are doing and are concentrating on their driving - hopefully they are but to assume this could be a big mistake.  Go with the assumption that the other vehicles are like missiles and unguided ones at that.

Take control of your own decisions and be a leader not a follower and do your own thinking. Don't take risks take opportunities - if it's risky don't' do it, if there's a safe overtaking opportunity take it and be decisive while not aggressive or out of control.


TOT - Tyres on Tarmac

Pulling up at a junction, traffic lights or other obstacle and you have a car in front of you, obviously you're going to slow down and maybe come to a stop if there is traffic. Think - TOT - Tyres on Tarmac, if you can't see the car in fronts rear Tyres on the Tarmac (bitumen) then you are too close.


Why is this a problem? well what if they stall, can't restart their engine and you have cars behind crammed up bumper to bumper?

Well now you've boxed yourself in and hopefully you're not in the close protection business and on duty, that would be embarrasing.

Either way your still stuck and waiting for cars behind to move back and free up space.

If you can see TOT then you can get out of the way and be on your way.

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