Meanwhile you may wish to take the following
two assessments of your own attitudes and behavioural style
(Some personal questions)
What sort of driver are
you? Name....................... Date …………….
Please select the answer
closest to your normal attitude towards driving
Circle a, b or c below
a I hate large vehicles
around me whilst I am driving
b I don’t mind other large vehicles around me at any time
c I enjoy jockeying for position with LGVs and others.
a I worry about my route
when I’m on strange roads.
b If I get lost it doesn’t matter very much at all
c If I get lost, I will stop anywhere to look at the map.
a I often imagine an
accident happening whilst I’m driving
b I actively plan my driving to avoid accident and risks
c I know my driving is good; I control my road situation.
a If others wish to overtake
I slow down immediately
b I am quite happy to allow others vehicles to overtake - always
c I hate being overtaken by other cars similar to my own.
a I worry in case my
brakes or any part of my car might fail
b I always have an escape route in mind when driving
c I know my car has been well serviced and I trust it.
a I usually end a long
drive feeling exhausted
b At the end of a long drive I like to relax
c Driving long distances keeps the adrenalin flowing
a If I hear a horn sound
I get self conscious
b I would wonder who was being hooted
c I sound my horn at them even louder.
a I get nervous when
I am following lots of other vehicles
b I am quite happy to stay behind and follow a good driver
c I try to make maximum headway at all times.
a I hate driving at night
or in very bad weather
b I have to concentrate much harder at night or in bad weather
c I can drive much faster at night in the dark or in the rain.
a I approach green traffic
lights slowing down
b I try to adjust my speed to arrive as the lights change to green
c I know that the amber light always gives you a safety margin.
This is not a
competition of course, but giving honest answers enables us to be
more aware of ourselves as drivers - and people!
Score ______ As ______ Bs ______ Cs
Am I an Anxious driver? Average ? or Aggressive ?
How many B’s did you get? A reasonable proportion is 1 A;
8 Bs and 1 C.
Are You an Anxious or an Aggressive Driver? Or is there an alternative?
One of the problems with
driving is the Isolation factor. You never see any other driver
properly. You look at them and note the kind of car they drive and
sometimes the way it is being driven. You may even make a judgement
of their age, social grouping, or even what sort of job you think
they may hold down. But you rarely see them as a person. You normally
only see a blue Escort or Golf Gti and assume that the driver is
sporty, rich, fast, docile, sluggish, or just a pratt, based on
what you observe about the vehicle, and the way it is driven.
matter. You have just answered some questions on anxiety and aggression.
Not only are your answers likely to be different from everyone else
in the room, even if your marks are exactly the same as the person
next to you, the degrees of variation are still considerable.
You will have realised
that there were no correct answers to the questions posed, only
that they should be correct from your own point of view, if you
are to understand yourself a little bit better. It is only by understanding
yourself and how your moods may change when you are driving, that
you are likely to begin to understand how other drivers’ minds
work, and how other people’s behaviour can change as the result
of internal or external pressures. All drivers are susceptible to
changes in conditions of weather, traffic, work, relationships,
or even their hormones. The more we study ourselves as drivers the
more we see the need to make allowance for other road users’
feelings and errors.
Road traffic incidents
are caused by human behaviour. Or to be more precise, by their misbehaviour.
Drivers, pedestrians and cyclists who obey the rules, and who only
meet others obeying the same rules will rarely come into conflict.
But even if you never break the rules (of the Highway Code) yourself,
it would be ridiculous to assume you are safe from others who will
and do. The principles of ‘Defensive Driving’ are that
we must assume all other drivers around us will be breaking the
rules all the time. But our own attitude towards them is to keep
a safe distance from them and their potential accidents all the
time. Looking for our own potential vulnerability or involvement,
and actively deciding how we can avoid becoming ensnared in other
people’s incidents, are the main aims of our driving.
Each error that we make
is really a silly or a stupid action. Two road users each committing
a silly error together can lead to a confrontation and become a
minor incident. If one of those road users commits a stupid error
at the same time as the other is silly, then the results can be
more harmful. Two stupid errors combine to result in death and serious
injury. If we replace those words silly and stupid with minor and
serious, we can put them into DSA perspective. Risk assessment,
risk identification and risk avoidance is what our driving job is
really all about.
Defensive driver training,
in layman’s terms, simply means never making any silly error
when there is any danger of anyone else making a silly or stupid
error at the same time. And, more to the point, never risk making
a stupid error.
A Second Personal Assessment
(Where you might get some impertinent answers)
Ask your regular passenger -
What sort of driver am I really? Name....................... Date
Please select the answer
closest to my normal attitude towards driving
Circle a, b or c below
a I try to ignore what
other drivers do whilst I am driving
b Other drivers’ bad habits give me safety warnings
c Other drivers and their bad habits annoy me at times.
a I ignore other drivers
who want to cut in on me
b If other drivers cut in I drop back to give myself room
c If other drivers want to cut in I close the gap on them
a I would never use the
horn on my car
b If I ever use the horn I usually brake as well
c I sound my horn at least once a day in normal driving.
a I sometimes frighten
myself when I am driving
b I consciously try not to frighten anyone when I am driving
c I am not aware of anyone ever being frightened by me.
a If I am annoyed by
anyone I save my anger until later
b If someone annoys me I let them get well away from me
c If someone annoys me I might give chase for a while.
a I never flash my lights
as it is potentially dangerous
b I only flash my lights to warn others of my presence
c I often flash my lights to tell other drivers off!.
a I choose my speed to
suit the mood I am in
b I only drive at the safest speed for that time and place
c I drive faster when I don’t have a passenger to distract
a Certain types of drivers
and their cars annoy me
b Every driver has his own reasons for what he does
c I get cross with reps and obvious drivers of company cars.
a Other drivers sometimes
make rude gestures at me
b I never gesture rudely or otherwise to anyone
c I make occasional rude gestures at bad or unsafe drivers.
a I have lost control
of my car on occasions
b I always try to be in total control of my car
c My car is always perfectly under control.
This is not a
competition of course, but someone else’s honest answers enables
us to be much more aware of ourselves as drivers!
Score ______ As ______ Bs ______ Cs
. is an Anxious driver; or Average; or Aggressive ?
Did your regular passenger
give you a majority of B answers? If not, why not?
A Personal Behaviour Assessment
Are you really Anxious or Aggressive? Or are you just Average? How
can you become well a “Well Above Average” driver instead?
How can you find out?
How can you change your attitudes towards other road users to make
you safer, and become an ‘Advanced - or better still - Defensive’
There are two parallel
paths of training to be followed. Initially we need to think in
terms of Vehicle Control, which itself has three stages; and also
of Situation Control, which is achieved through the application
of Forward Planning to ensure full Hazard Perception.
The Three Stages
of Vehicle Control are:-
of the transmission chain, which is effected through:
to the engine,
gears, and then to the
and the driving wheels;
• Maintenance of equal grip by all four tyres throughout bends
and any change of direction; and
• Correct positioning and adjustment of speed of the vehicle
through opening and closing bends.
Situation Control appears
to be a little more difficult to pin down in stages. It is really
dependent upon your abilities to look as far ahead as possible and
take note of all that is happening, is likely to happen and that
which might conceivably happen; and at the same time make contingency
plans for each option. This can only be done by applying a consistent
driving plan. If the plan is used consistently the driver can rely
on quick reactions and excellent observational skills to maintain
total control over any potential situation change. Skilful drivers
often believe their reactions will always get them out of problems
created by their lack of observation. Others hope they can rely
on excellent observation to make up for weak reactions. Foolish
drivers are those who rely on the safe actions of all other road
users to keep them from danger. This is what Situation Control is
all about - making sure that your own vehicle and its occupants
remain perfectly safe regardless of what any other rod user may
This is why the DSA system
of driving test marking is so successful. Dangerous and serious
errors are automatic causes of failure at any stage of testing.
Minor errors are only acceptable, (to the DSA), for those drivers
who are taking their initial ? driving test. Advanced driving assessments
cannot allow even minor errors to be ignored. Uncorrected and repeated,
minor errors are the real cause of most road traffic accidents.
Advanced and defensive driver training courses are aimed at identifying
and removing or reducing all minor errors. Repeated minor errors
Aggressive and anxious drivers consistently make more errors. Minor
errors make drivers vulnerable. Repeated minor errors inevitably
lead into a confrontation. Unresolved confrontations rapidly turn
into a crisis. At this stage vehicle control skills might help;
provided everyone involved uses them. Unless the crisis is averted
it becomes another road traffic incident.
To everyone else
it may be a statistic; to those involved it is often a matter of
life or death.