- According to the National Safety Council, defensive driving extends back to ancient Roman empires when Camillus granted women the right to own and drive chariots and Julius Caesar enacted parking prohibitions to prevent congestion in the streets. In 1963, a National Safety Council committee developed the Driver Improvement Program Department. The first eight-hour defensive driving course was launched in Toledo, Ohio, in 1964. The program has since been adapted for branches of the U.S. Army and international markets.
Young Driver Training
- The National Security Council offers instructor-led courses in defensive driving for young drivers ages 15 to 24. Geared towards at-risk drivers, the "Alive at 25" program teaches how to use communication skills, recognize driving hazards and avoid poor judgment. The course also encourages parents to get involved with the training techniques and work with their teens to prevent speeding, alcohol and drug-related accidents.
Elderly Defensive Driving
- Elderly drivers benefit from defensive driver courses, according to the AARP. Where young drivers often violate speed, substance and reckless driving laws, older drivers fail in terms of correct lane usage, proper lane turning and right-of-way yielding. The AARP used ideas from the National Security Council's course to develop the AARP Driver Safety Program, previously known as "55 Alive."
- Crash prevention is a main focus in defensive driving. According to the American Safety Council, about 41,000 people die each year in traffic collisions and millions more suffer injuries. Many of these are alcohol- and speed-related. Defensive driving training teaches drivers how to scan the road for obstacles, use the two or three-second rule for following, be aware of hazardous surroundings and yield the right of way when necessary. Courses also touch on state-specific driving laws students might have forgotten or be unaware of.
Defensive Risk Management
- Anticipating a risk is a crucial aspect of defensive training. After training, drivers will know how to scan ahead for risks so they are not forced to overreact to prevent an accident. Watching for pedestrians and oversize vehicles, adjusting speed to lose a tailgater, driving with enough space around the vehicle on all times and maintaining appropriate speed for inclement weather or wet, icy conditions are ways drivers are taught to reduce the likelihood of an accident.