Defensive driving is defined as driving to prevent accidents in spite of the incorrect actions of others or the presence of adverse driving conditions.
Accidents can be classified as either preventable or non-preventable. A preventable
accident is one in which you failed to do everything your reasonably could have done to prevent it.
The Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe offers an internationally recognised defensive driving course as a part of its Driver Improvement Programme.
The council’s driver improvement programme has the Defensive Driving Course, a vision test, a road assessment and a course for drivers of Heavy Goods Vehicles.
It is a legal requirement that all drivers of Public Service Drivers have a valid defensive driving certificate issued by the council.
The course is made up of eight sessions. Each session is approximately one hour 10 minutes.
In the course we have the eight sessions to raise questions concerning safe driving techniques and to provide answers.
We believe that safe driving is a continuous learning process and the course is a mind stretching experience – one that will cause a student to re-examine their driving behaviour and pre-conceptions about how to handle driving emergencies that one has never actually experienced.
A wide variety of visual aids, including films and Powerpoint presentation are used in presenting this course.
In session one, we discuss about the magnitude of the traffic problem. Students will learn about the five types of errors one needs to avoid in order to have a perfect trip.
The five errors are: Accidents, traffic offences, vehicle abuse, schedule delays and discourtesy.
In session two, the students apply the Standard Accident Prevention Formula and learn about the six conditions of accidents.
The session identifies the six positions of the two-car crash. Students also learn about reaction distance, braking distance and the overall stopping distance.
This will make them appreciate the importance of a proper following distance.
Sessions three and four are entitled, “How to Avoid a Collision with the Vehicle Behind and “How to Avoid a Collision with an Oncoming Vehicle” respectively.
Students learn about the indirect actions, and direct actions they can take in the three phases of an accident.
They learn about why vehicles cross the centre line and the prescriptive four-point defence against head-on collisions.
Session five dwells on five case histories of accidents and their preventability.
There is a thorough discussion on yielding precedence at intersections and safe left and right turn procedures.
This will lead to the four-point plan for intersection safety. Session Six deals with the art of overtaking and being overtaken.
The session analyses the emotional reaction of being overtaken, dangers of passing other vehicles, and illegal overtaking before coming up with twelve points of a perfect pass (overtaking).
The last two sessions, Session Seven and Session Eight are entitled “The Mystery Crash” and “How to Avoid other Common Types of collision” respectively.
In session seven there is a filmed re-construction of a mystery crash in terms of the six conditions of accidents.
We also look at the driver condition and alcohol as well as the driver condition and drugs.
Session eight deals with how to avoid other common types of collisions such as pedestrians, fixed objects, trains, bicycles, motor cycles and animals.
In the end the students will learn to build a technique of defensive driving by developing better habits of observation, communication coordination, navigation and consideration.
To be continued next week