An Introduction To Defensive Driving For Beginners
Updated: Sep 7
The core of Defensive Driving is looking and thinking ahead. Being familiar with an area also helps. This is an introduction blog to driving and is intended for beginners but others may find some value in it as well. It’s all in how you see the road and your surroundings.
Getting Ready to Drive - Some Basic Tasks
Make sure that your arms have a slight bend in them.
Adjust your seat and headrest if necessary, then adjust both your rear view and side-view mirrors to maximize visibility.
Make sure that you have all of the paperwork for the vehicle.
How To Drive Through Curves And Corners
TIRES ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF ANY VEHICLE
Top 3 overlooked deadly factors that may get you killed on the road
How To Drive In Downtown Halifax
Just like in contact sports shoulder checks are everything!
When you finally get you Fulls you will quickly discover that the roads are packed dangerous drivers. The only way you will catch all of the near misses that they cause is by shoulder checking to your blind spot. Would you come out of the corner with the puck without checking over your shoulder? Of course you wouldn’t, because you would get smoked by another player!
Intersections And Left Hand Turns
Hand Over Hand Steering
Sometimes it's what you DON'T do that will keep you safe
Don't brake check a tailgater. Let off the accelerator pedal and as your vehicle slows they will pass you.
Don't speed up when approaching a turn. Set yourself up for the turn before the intersection and take your time.
Don't swerve for deer or other wildlife because many times they will change direction and not end up in your path.
Don't look at the thing that is scaring you, always look in the direction you want to go. You will always end up going in whichever direction you are looking.
Don't hit the brakes or accelerate too harshly on slippery surfaces because you could break traction.
Don't go into curves or off ramps too fast. When you go into a curve too fast, it's too late to slow down.
Don't signal too early. If a driver is waiting to pull out into the roadway between you and your turn, they could pull out and cut you off thinking that you are turning before them.
Don't over correct or do anything too sudden unless it's a legit emergency in which there is a risk to human life. If you over correct you could easily roll your vehicle, especially on the highway.
Don't speed up at intersections. At intersections other drivers are trying to judge your speed so it's safer to stay consistent.
Don't hit the brakes on a speed bump. Do all of your braking before the bump. Hitting your brakes on a speed bump will load up your suspension and possibly bottom out your vehicle on the bump.
Don't approach a yield sign at too fast of a speed. If you have to yield you won't be able to stop and if you stop suddenly you could get rear ended.
Don't react to the vehicle which pulls up to the stop sign too fast as you are driving by with the right of way. They will stop.
Don't move too suddenly when moving out from a stop sign to see and judge traffic. You could scare the other drivers.
Don't turn on your windshield wipers or try to open your windows if they are frozen. You will break them. Turn up the heat on the windshield then free up the wipers.
Don't hit the brakes if you hydroplane. Let up off of both pedals and hold the steering wheel steady.
Don't honk your horn unless it's really necessary. You could cause a road rage incident.
Don't accelerate too fast from a stop as you will only end up having to hit your brakes.
Don't talk back to cops. You will always have a better outcome with cops when you are respectful and honest.
Don't steer too sharply when curb parking as your signal light will cancel and it's harder to line up.
Don't drive too fast when you reverse park. It will only make it harder and if you were to hit a pedestrian you will have no time to react.
When curb parking don't turn on your signal light until you are actually ready to pull out from the side of the road. Leave your right signal light on for the entire time you are pulled over so that other drivers know that you aren't going to pull out in front of them.
Don't drive distracted or tired. It will save your life.
Don't stop to close to the vehicle in front of you. If you get rear ended your vehicle will get sandwiched.
Don't use cruise control in the rain. The computer could accelerate your vehicle causing it to hydroplane.
Be ready for anything
Your side mirrors are for seeing beside you vehicle. They're not for seeing what's behind you. That's what the rear view mirror is for.
Pro Tip: When driving at night be sure to place your phone face down or in the glove box. If you get a notification the phone will light up the inside of your vehicle instantly blinding you.
How To Handle Sharp Curves And Corners
The ‘Move Over Law’
The ‘Move Over Law’ was created to help keep first responders such as police firefighters and paramedics safe while they are working to help people on the sides of the highways and roads. During an emergency like a motor vehicle accident (MVA) there will usually be a lot of activity at the scene. Police will be controlling traffic and firefighters will be extracting the injured from their vehicles so that paramedics can treat them. During these critical times it’s important that passing motorists slow down and give as much room as possible to ensure emergency workers on the scene are able to perform their jobs quickly and safely.
The Move Over Law
The ‘Move Over Law’ is not at all like Nova Scotia’s school zone speed limit law as it is much easier to interpret. The law simply states that when passing an emergency vehicle with its red or blue lights activated a motorist should slow to 60 km/hr or lower and if it's possible change lanes to give as much space as possible to the emergency vehicle. In many cases you will not be able to change lanes and in those situations I recommend to slow down a little more as you pass. Emergency vehicle lights are specifically designed to get your attention but don’t stare at the vehicle or the scene when passing because you could accidentally cause a second collision. This is often referred to as rubber necking. Remember that it’s normal to look around when driving but it’s best to only do quick glances and then return your attention to what is directly in front of you.
Below is a photo of an accident from 2017. The police were investigating an accident on Highway 102 and had the highway shut down. Traffic was at a standstill. Somehow this black Dodge Ram came speeding down the left lane and completely obliterated a police motorcycle. The officer managed to escape certain death by jumping over the median.
Being Over Confident - The Dunning Kruger effect
Some new drivers over estimate their skills. The Dunning–Kruger effect is a hypothetical cognitive bias stating that people with low ability at a task overestimate their own ability, and that people with high ability at a task under estimate their own ability.