In 2017, close to 6.5 million car accidents occurred in the United States, with an approximate 35,000 resulting fatalities. What are the leading causes of these car accidents? Distracted driving, fatigue, intoxication, and aggressive driving.
In other words, human error leads to most car accidents. Whether you want to avoid making these errors, yourself, or you want to know what to do if someone around you is driving erratically, defensive driving school can help.
You may have heard of defensive driving school but you might not know what it is or what it can do for you.
We’re here to talk about what defensive driving school can do for you and what to expect to learn when you enroll.
How Can Defensive Driving School Benefit You?
State laws and regulations regarding defensive driving school vary. Depending on your state’s laws, there are a few major ways that these courses can benefit you. One of the perks of online defensive driving school is that you can enroll no matter where you live and still have your courses catered to your state.
The most obvious benefit of defensive driving school, no matter where you reside, is the knowledge you will gain that will make you a better driver.
Does this sound like you? It’s been decades since you were enrolled in Driver’s Education, and your memory of the rules of the road are a little hazy. Or, you finished Driver’s Education recently, but the in-classroom setting didn’t hold your attention.
Defensive driving school will not only refresh your memory on the basics but it will also focus on how to react in sticky situations.
One of the primary reasons people enroll in defensive driving school is to reduce their insurance rates. Depending on your insurance agency, you can save up to 10% on your car insurance for three years after completing your defensive driving course online. This can be especially useful for newer drivers who tend to have higher insurance rates.
Finally, you may be eligible to get out of a traffic violation ticket if you complete defensive driving school. This is not a guarantee for everyone, and you will find out in traffic court if you qualify for this opportunity.
What Does Defensive Driving School Cover?
What you’ll learn in defensive driving school may vary based on your state’s requirements and the program you enroll in. For example, at Drive Safe Online, we offer an hour-long basics course or a more in-depth six-hour course. After completing your coursework, you will be asked to pass a multiple-choice test to get your certification.
Though these courses do vary, there are certain basics that will almost definitely be covered. We’ll get into those basics so you know what to expect.
Causes of Traffic Collisions
Many defensive driving courses will begin with a rundown on the causes of car accidents. We’ve already mentioned the leading causes, but there are other things to look out for, as well.
Bad weather, blindspots on the road, and wildlife can also lead to car accidents. Oftentimes, we think of these sorts of unexpected accidents as being out of our control. However, exercising increased caution can prevent these kinds of accidents.
Knowing the factors that can cause traffic accidents can make you a better and more defensive driver.
What Happens During a Crash
What happens to your car and to your body during a car crash depends on several factors. These include the speed of the vehicle (or vehicles) involved, the place of impact on the car’s exterior, and the size of objects being impacted.
You might assume that a collision involving two moving cars will be worse than a collision involving one moving car and one stationary object. This is not always the case. For example, a car going 50 miles per hour and hitting a tree could be just as severe as a head-on collision between two cars going 25 miles per hour each.
The resulting damage of a car accident can be measured in three ways.
There is the first collision or impact between the vehicle and the object it is colliding with. The first collision assesses the damage done to your car.
Then there is a second collision or impact, which refers to the movement of the occupants within the car. During the second collision, you might hit your head or face against the windshield or injure your external body in some way. By discussing second collisions, drivers will learn how to increase their safety within the car even in the event of a first collision.
Finally, the third collision or impact refers to the movement inside the body during a car accident. Severe, high-impact accidents can cause internal bleeding or damage to the organs. It is because of this possible third collision that you should always go to a hospital after an accident, even if you don’t look too banged up.
Utilizing Safety Equipment
We all know that some cars are safer than others. However, all cars should come equipped with basic safety features that are designed to lower the risks of second and third collisions.
Defensive driving school will include information on the best ways to utilize your safety equipment. This may include properly positioning your headrest or locking your seat in at the right distance from the wheel. It can even include making sure your seatbelt is crossing the right areas of your body.
Most of the safety equipment in a vehicle is designed to adjust based on a person’s height. However, weight is also an important factor, especially when it comes to children.
There are certain laws and guidelines that have been put in place to lower the risk of injuries for children riding in vehicles. As the driver, it is important that you make sure you are creating a safe environment for all passengers, not just yourself. Make sure you know who can safely sit in the front seat and what kind of car seats are necessary for your younger or smaller passengers.
Dealing with Psychological Factors
Safe driving requires constant alertness. The saying goes, “Keep your eyes on the road,” but any experienced driver knows that their eyes have to be moving from the road to their mirrors and side windows in order to remain aware of their surroundings.
There are certain psychological factors that can distract or inhibit a driver’s ability to pay full attention to their driving. Defensive driving school courses will oftentimes discuss some of these factors in order to increase your awareness of them. It’s important to know when you’re not in the right mindset to drive or how to refocus your attention if you’re already driving.
Fatigue can most certainly affect your driving. The National Sleep Foundation has reported that driving after a waking period of 18 hours is like driving with a 0.5 blood alcohol level. Up that to 24 hours and it’s like driving with a 0.10 blood alcohol level.
For reference, a 0.8 blood alcohol level is considered legally drunk. You wouldn’t drive when you’re drunk, so don’t drive when you’re drowsy.
Other psychological factors that can be distracting for drivers are high levels of stress, anxiety, mania, and road rage. In defensive driving school, you will learn how these psychological states can affect your driving and what steps you can take to combat them.
Driving Under the Influence
While we’re on the subject of blood alcohol levels, let’s talk about driving under the influence. Driving under the influence doesn’t just refer to the influence of alcohol. It also includes any drug that affects your cognitive and physical responses.
Defensive driving school courses will discuss the frequency of DUI-caused accidents to raise your awareness of their prevalence. They will also discuss the laws dictating DUI’s and what counts as driving “under the influence.” Finally, they will discuss the ways that different substances alter your mental and physical state.
The objective of this portion of defensive driving school is to alert you to the actual changes taking place in your mind and body as the result of drinking or doing drugs. We’re not always aware of our slowed reflexes when we’re under the influence, and it’s easy to assume that we can still safely drive. Defensive driving school can help you to combat those thoughts and rationalize with yourself before getting behind the wheel.
State Traffic Laws
This is the portion of defensive driving school that will remind you most of Driver’s Education. It may seem silly to go over basic state traffic laws when you’ve been driving legally for years, but having a refresher is never a bad thing.
Because state traffic laws may differ, it is important that you find an online defensive driving school that will cater their lessons to your state. This can be especially helpful for people who have recently moved to a new state or are living in a state other than the one where they first learned to drive. Adjusting to different speed limits and even different traffic patterns can be difficult if we’ve been used to something else for most of our driving careers.
There’s no way to prevent unforeseen events that could lead to a collision from happening. For example, you can’t stop others from driving under the influence or while texting. Nor can you stop surprise rainstorms from making the roads slick.
However, there are techniques you can learn to minimize your own risk in the event that dangerous or surprising things occur around you. The section of defensive driving school geared towards preventative techniques is one of the most beneficial.
Some of these techniques involve driving more mindfully so that you aren’t causing a collision. Some of them are geared more towards reacting appropriately to outside factors.
Keeping a safe distance behind the vehicle in front of you and knowing your vehicle’s break time can lower the risk of rear-ending another car. Using your turn signals appropriately and checking thoroughly before turning or merging into another lane can help you to avoid side-swiping another car or even cutting another driver off. Of course, you should always follow the rules of the road, but keep your space from other drivers who may not do the same.
Reacting appropriately to emergency situations can be difficult. We have very little time to think and it’s easy to panic and lose control of the vehicle. Staying two steps ahead can help.
For example, adjusting the way you drive when a rainstorm hits can minimize your chance of hydroplaning or skidding. Take it slow, ease into braking and accelerating, and be mindful of turns or curves in the road.
Defensive driving is all about preventing accidents through awareness and calm reactions to your surroundings. You can’t predict everything, but you can be prepared when something unfortunate or risky comes your way.
Sign Up for Defensive Driving School Today
Whether you want to reduce your driver’s insurance costs, remedy a legal situation, or want to improve your driving skills, defensive driving school could be exactly what you need.
At Drive Safe Online, our classes are designed to work with your busy schedule. They’re totally accessible on any smartphone and can be paused and resumed at any time.
Once you have enrolled, you will have three months to take your courses and pass your exam at your own pace. 70% counts as a passing grade, and you can take the exam as many times as you need within that timeframe. Each time you take the exam, it will look slightly different to make sure that you have taken your time with the coursework and really know the rules of defensive driving!
Browse our website to learn more about our courses and how they work. Help us help you to make the roads safer for everyone!