Defensive driving is a way to be proactive and prepare yourself for possible roadway conflicts before they materialize, and to prevent collisions in spite of the mistakes of others/unfavourable driving conditions.
The attitude of the defensive driver always takes into account their own physical, mental and emotional health, the condition of the HTS, and the mechanical condition of their vehicle.
The defensive driver’s attitude is that that they are ready to drive correctly.
SIPDE (Scan, Identify, Predict, Decide, Execute) is a strategy for developing defensive driving skills.
Actively scan the roadway a distance of 12 to 15 seconds ahead looking for signs, signals or any potential problems
Include the rearview and side mirrors as well as the dash
Looking all directions means you will have a complete traffic picture ahead of what is ahead of you.
Aim your eyes high and keep them moving will help centre your vehicle in your lane, on either straight lanes or curves.
When crossing intersections, SCAN should include cross traffic as far as you can possibly see as you enter the intersection
From all the information you see, you must select the most critical data.
Apply your selective seeing ability to sort the important signs, signals and potential problems/hazards from the unimportant ones.
Focus on other vehicles, animals, pedestrians, moving and stationary objects that may affect your travel path
Remember that you are in motion and moving closer to what you have identified.
If scanning far enough ahead, you still have 8 to 10 seconds before you reach the identified hazard.
For each scenario, ask yourself What is the worst case scenario?
What is the most probable?
Predict the potential paths of travel and timing of relative hazard movements, where and how collisions could occur etc.
Expect the unexpected -Be prepared for the sudden movements of other road users
Make sure other road users see you, and if necessary, use your horn or flash your high beams.
You are now 6-8 seconds from the hazard.
You must decide what you are going to do to minimize your risk
Your path of travel and your speed are your two main aspect of control that are available to you. Changing speed gives you more time before you reach the hazard. The situation can change in this extra time.
Reduced speed lowers the force of impact should a collision occur.
Changing lanes creates a larger space between you and the hazard.
Decide on two levels:
What evasive manoeuvre will I use? Leave yourself an out.
Where will I go/what will I do?
You are now 4-6 seconds away from the hazard.
Immediately act upon your decision.
Change your path of travel or your speed or both.
Probable danger has been reduced, as well as your distance from the “worst case scenario”
You have acted in anticipation, and you are prepared to use your “out” if needed.
Using SIPDE can do more than keep you out of conflicts, it will also make for a smoother, less stressful drive. Your early course corrections will allow for you to ACTIVELY control your vehicle on the HTS.
Managing Time and Space SIPDE helps you to control time and space on the road.
Since a lane is wider than a vehicle, lane position refers to the area of the lane of which your vehicle occupies.
Lane Position 1 – Refers to the centre of the lane
In this position you have approximately 1/2m to 1m of space on both sides of your vehicle.
There is no hazard on either side of your vehicle that requires you to adapt your space to minimize a potential risk.
Lane Position 2 – Refers to the left third of the lane
In this position you have approximately 1m to 2m of space on the right side of your vehicle. Allows for space on the right in presence of a hazard, or when turning left.
Lane Position 3 – Refers to the right third of the lane
In this position you have approximately 1m to 2m of space on the left side of your vehicle.
Allows for space on the left in presence of a hazard (such as an approaching vehicle in the oncoming lane).
- The Danger Zone Present both in front of and behind your vehicle, The Danger Zone refers to the space in which it is impossible to stop in time, considering the speed, road conditions, and mechanical conditions of your vehicle.
In ideal driving conditions (at city speeds), your Danger Zone dictates a two second following distance AT MINIMUM.
Following Time Intervals
In ideal (dry surface) conditions
A 2 second following distance at speeds below 50km/h
A 3 second following distance at speeds up to 70km/h
A 4 second following distance at speeds up to 100km/h
A 6 second following distance in most adverse driving conditions.
Adjust these times considering
– the road conditions (friction/traction)
– your speed
– the weather conditions (visibility)
– your level of previous experience with the existing conditions
– the density of traffic
As a novice driver, add one second to all the recommended time intervals. Your ideal is to keep this space clear both in front AND behind you.
- The space between your vehicle and vehicles ahead is controlled by the speed you choose to travel. 3 seconds is the recommended minimum for novice drivers.
The space between your vehicle and vehicles behind you is controlled by the speed you choose to travel, changing lanes, or communicating to the driver behind you.
It is NOT POSSIBLE to prevent tailgating.
Do not panic! Ease off the accelerator gently, allowing the space in front of your vehicle to increase to at least 4 seconds.
This large space in front will encourage the tailgater to pass.
On a multi-lane roadway, a lane change is appropriate to reduce the risk from a tailgater. Activate your hazard lights to alert the tailgater that you are slowing down or changing lanes and encouraging them to pass.