What is the most valuable asset keeping you safe on the road? Is it your car’s safety features? Modern technology? Road rules and laws? While these things keep you safe, ultimately, it’s your road experience and expertise that is most valuable. Every moment that you spend on the road gradually builds your confidence and competence, allowing you to develop your judgements as a driver. This is why many states require learner drivers to complete countless hours of driving experience before deeming them fit to be a provisional driver. However, while experience requires time, there are some ways you can shortcut the process of becoming a proficient driver. With the help of defensive driving courses, you can better equip yourself with the knowledge to tackle a variety of road situations.
What Is A Defensive Driving Course?
Defensive driving courses are designed for drivers needing the know-how to tackle various driving conditions due to their profession (for example, mining) or location (for example, rural areas). Of course, anyone with an open or learner’s licence is eligible to purchase these courses.
A defensive driving course yields drivers with a set of skills in avoiding emergency situations and to ensure maximum safety on the road. As a defensive driver learner, you are put in the hot seat to experience and learn from potentially dangerous situations. So, if you’re a bit of an adrenaline junkie, then this is for you. Overall, a defensive driving course provides knowledge and hands-on training to help keep you safe on the road, preparing you for the unexpected.
How does your car rank in safety measures? We recently covered the most unsafe cars you should avoid purchasing in our recent article!
Why Would This Course Benefit You?
Defensive driving courses benefit drivers on both a personal and professional level. You can’t control the actions of other drivers, but you can control how you manage and react to risks created by other drivers – defensive driving teaches you this. If you’re a learner, this course has shown to improve your chances of passing a practical driving test by around 10%, so it’s great investment while you’re inexperienced behind the wheel.
For those that need to boost their employability and add to their resume, a defensive driving course is a great asset when you know your desired role requires driving around rural communities or more complex driving skills.
What Does a Defensive Driving Course Entail?:
Most defensive driving classes will consist of several classroom sessions followed by practical in-car sessions with an instructor. This is to provide you with the necessary knowledge and theory behind, certain dangerous factors, and practical skills for handling various high-risk situations.
Theory Components Can Consist of:
- Scanning techniques
- Vehicle performance and systems
- Braking distances
- Fatigue management
- Hazard perception
- Understanding human factors
- And other defensive driving techniques
Practical Components Can Consist of:
The practical component will usually take place on a racetrack or a large open area, like a car park. If a car has been provided by the instructor, the student drivers will typically have a go on the same car.
- Low-speed manoeuvring exercises
- Simulated emergency braking exercises
- Accident avoidance
- Steering technique
- Seat positioning
- Vehicle maintenance
What You Won’t Learn…
If you’re wanting to become a stunt driver, don’t expect this course to help you become that – not on its own anyway. Defensive driving courses do not teach the high-speed, performance driving we see in films. You’ll need to look into speciality driving courses for that.
You also won’t learn any off-road driving, pursuit techniques, or techniques for chauffeurs. However, all the things you do learn will be useful if you plan to take it to the next level in one of these disciplines.
How To Choose a Driving Course?
Select a defensive driving course that teaches you to:
- Recognise, preempt, and react to hazards.
- How to be a confident driver that doesn’t take unnecessary and dangerous risks
- Remain safe while driving despite pressures and distractions
Look For Courses That Teach You These Valuable Lessons!
How the human brain views and processes hazards: Courses designed to teach this focus on developing your skills in spotting potential dangers ahead of time. For example, looking out for pedestrians and anticipating how they may get into danger (or create a dangerous situation) while nearby a busy road.
Managing and reducing overconfidence: While confidence is important when you drive, you can also develop a false sense of overconfidence in your skills and driving ability. This course works well to identify and ground that overconfidence, making you a safer driver. This may be especially necessary for young and experienced drivers – for parents looking to teach their teens about road hazards and support them becoming responsible drivers, this is a great course.
Developing situational awareness: These classes also teach drivers how to be aware of their surroundings. As a young driver, the sight of lots of red brake lights suddenly appearing and the sound of sirens in the distance may take them by surprise. Experienced drivers all understand that these are signs that there may be a crash ahead so it’s time to slow down immediately. They may also turn their radios down and start checking mirrors to see where an ambulance may be coming from in anticipation. A young driver may be less aware of these things that tend to occur around them.
Developing risk avoidance strategies: This course is also great at teaching drivers how to be patient, calm, and clear-headed due to their preparation towards unexpected road situations. These drivers will know what to do in those situations to avoid making things worse or getting themselves involved in a crash. On top of avoidance strategies, these courses also teach drivers to remain mindful that risky drivers occupy the road, including people using phones, driving with distractions in the car, waving in traffic, speeding, indicating incorrectly or forgetting, and people that are generally failing to follow road rules. Learning how to respond to these risks can turn around potentially dangerous situations.
Peer pressure resilience classes: These are integral to teaching particularly young drivers how to maneuver social pressures from friends, relatives, and other drivers.
Before you start!
It is advised to have at least some driving experience first before taking defensive driving classes as you may feel behind the rest if you have limited driving experience. Further, you may not be able to fully participate in the practical components of the course. That being said, classes can be taken at any time after someone gets their learner licence.
How Much Does a Defensive Driving Course Cost?
What you can expect to pay depends on a few factors, but generally, the cost of this course is between $200–$500. The specific cost will depend on the driving instructor, the location and facilities, and any extras (whether you also purchase the course in combination with another advanced driving course).
What Are Some Defensive Driving Schools I Can Attend?
For Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney, Driver Dynamics offer defensive driving classes costing $398 (currently on sale for $249 for a limited time). They are Australia’s most popular Defensive Driving Courses, conducted by Australia’s No.1 Advanced and Defensive Driving School. Their classes are offered to L Platers, P Platers, Company Fleets, and anyone who is interested.
For Brisbane, No Yelling Driving School offers defensive driving courses with the help of driving specialists from Safe Drive Training, who have accrued decades of experience in training drivers under high-pressure situations. Their drivers have become especially renowned in their field. Their course participants also receive a complimentary lunch and refreshments with the crew out on the race track where the practical component takes place.
For Western Australia, Eclipse Driving School conducts 3 to 4-hour courses. Their courses are aimed at any level of driver, from new P platers to experienced drivers and parents. Eclipse utilises ex-police officers and experienced instructors to deliver their courses.
Driving it Home
Driver experience is simply one of the most invaluable tools you can have on the road to prevent or minimise a high-risk situation; defence driving courses can shortcut your way to this important knowledge and experience. Whether you may be a parent, young or inexperienced driver, or someone looking to upskill for professional reasons, this course is a wise investment that could save you much more money in the future or even your life.
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