Why every road user should do a Defensive Driving course

As tough as we fearless females can be, let’s face it: South Africa’s roads are a scary place to be. Here’s how a Defensive Driving course can grow your confidence…

As tough as we fearless females can be, let’s face it: South Africa’s roads are a scary place to be. When you consider all the risks and potential dangers associated with something as simple as a daily commute, the chance of being involved in a road incident is alarmingly high.

Hijackings, accidents caused by distracted and drunk drivers, along with poor road conditions caused by South Africa’s extreme weather conditions; these are all things that we need to continually remind ourselves of before getting behind the wheel. While we can’t do much to avoid an unexpected situation, there’s a lot we can do to safeguard ourselves from becoming another statistic.

What is happening on our roads!?

Apart from our high crime statistics, we also have unroadworthy cars and unskilled drivers with bad attitudes on the road. If you’ve been travelling on our local roads lately, you’ll probably have noticed the shocking increase in bad driving behaviours. I’m not quite sure what’s going on in Cape Town, but there seems to be an influx of drivers with little to no clue of where they’re going or what they’re doing. Perhaps it has something to do with new drivers and out-of-towners who aren’t familiar with our roads, as well as those who haven’t pre-planned and researched their routes before heading off to their destinations. Apprehensive driving causes more congestion, chaos and added risk to our roads. Heck, sometimes I feel that it should be compulsory for all drivers to have completed a Defensive Driving course!

Be A Defensive Driver

I recently took part in a Defensive Driving course with MasterDrive, and to say that it has taken long enough for me to finally pluck up the courage to do one, is an understatement! I wish I had done this years ago – back when I first learned to drive. I don’t think it matters how skilled of a driver you think you are, or how long you’ve been driving for, nothing can make you as alert and aware of the dangers of driving on South Africa’s roads as a Defensive Driving course – and that’s a good thing!

My trainer spent a large part of the morning introducing me to the real facts and figures associated with our country’s high road accident and fatality rate, followed by the reasons and behaviours associated with the high numbers. I learnt that distracted driving is now considered just as dangerous as drunk driving, and that a safe following distance wasn’t exactly the length that I thought it was! But mostly importantly, I learnt that we South Africans are far too quick to let our guards down, and that we really need to be expecting the unexpected – over every inch of our roads.

After a comprehensive theory session with the trainer, it was time to put what I’d learnt into a real life situation. I must be honest, after the theory session, I felt pretty nervous as I walked toward the car with the trainer for the practical ‘on-road’ test. There really is just so much to keep in mind if you want to be a true defensive driver, but as soon as we started driving, the trainer made me feel super relaxed and reminded me that this was the next step towards becoming a safer driver.

It’s all about conscious driving – taking note of as much of what is going on around you as possible. Consider the traffic ahead of you, not just the car in front of you. Watch what pedestrians on the sidewalks are doing and identify hazards. The rule of thumb is that you should always anticipate the worst case scenario, as much as possible, whenever you’re behind the wheel. It may seem like a tedious and paranoid way to go about your daily commute, but I found that it became second nature, the more I practiced. In fact, after my day with the defensive driving trainer, I feel somewhat empowered and confident, because I know that the chances of me being able to escape or deflect being involved in a dangerous road situation are much higher now.

Also read: How to handle increased traffic

If you’ve been considering doing a Defensive Driving course, I cannot urge road users enough to do one! I’ve heard a lot of people say that they’re too nervous to do one, but take my word for it – you have NOTHING to worry about! The MasterDrive trainers are friendly, down-to-earth and are trained to make a scary situation manageable! So do yourself and other road users a favour and consider doing a Defensive Driving course ASAP!

If you’d like to find out more information about MasterDrive’s Defensive Driving courses, click here.