The key to achieving a collision free driving requires a combination of positive attitude towards driving and the ability to show awareness and anticipation of all road and traffic situations. While learning to drive it is very important to have your attention concentrated on observation and planning for all possible eventualities. Driving hazards can come in various forms at unexpected times. It is necessary to deal with any new traffic situations that are introduced to you. Our focus is mainly on ‘developing hazards’ those which are caused or presented by other road users.

The simplest way to categorise road hazards is to view them in three types;

 Fixed/physical features (junctions, bends, pedestrian crossing etc.)

 Moving features (developing hazards)

 Environmental features (road surface/weather)

The driving plan, Mirrors-Signal-Manoeuvre (MSM) is essential to this skill development;

Mirrors - The importance of checking for traffic following closely in both interior and exterior mirrors

Signal - The importance of using the direction indicators where necessary.

Manoeuvre - The importance of the correct line position, speed and continuous observation.

To apply the Driving plan effectively we must Look Assess Decide (LAD);

Look – The importance of continuous observation well ahead for all hazards particularly those that exit or might develop and prioritise these.

Assess – Assessing the whole traffic situation

Decide – Decide on the basis of below;

 what can be and cannot be seen

 what can you reasonably expect from other road users to do






Awareness and Anticipation

Forward planning is essential when approaching pedestrians, riders such as pedal and motorcyclists, drivers of cars, vans, lorries, buses, horses and other animals. It is important to recognise the situation and show restraint by holding back where necessary. It is mandatory to leave adequate clearance/leave distance while meeting, crossing or overtaking other vehicles. A perceptive driver must look out for clues and build up a mental picture of what they think might happen next. As a driver you can anticipate the actions of other road users early. The skill to recognise and deal with the hazards developed by actions of other road users is termed as Hazard perception. Some of the factors that have to be taken into consideration are as below;

Time of day – this can give you a lot of information of what you can expect. For example children are out in force just before and after school. This is in the morning and afternoon period of the day. At night dark objects blend into the background and become invisible so drive carefully.

Road Signs – these provide clear indications of what might lay ahead.

Location – you must always be travelling at a speed you can stop safely irrespective of which location you are at.

Other road users and drivers – It is always important to look out for other road users and anticipate what their intentions are. A driver who seems to be uncertain may be lost and could make a last minute turn when he sees the road he is looking for.

Buses and large vehicles – need more room and may take unusual road positions on turns so it is necessary to hold back and give them plenty of room.

Pedestrians – Not all pedestrians are aware of the vehicles approaching them from the sides so you have to be extra careful. Children and elderly pedestrians are also unpredictable as they do not judge the speed and the distance too well.

Animals – It is important to keep extra distance when passing by animals. Drive slowly, do not sound your horn or rev the engine as this may frighten the animals.

Cyclist and motorcyclist – Always leave plenty of room while passing by a cyclist. A debris or pot hole on the road will cause the cyclist to move out. If they look over their right shoulder, they may be about to turn to the right. Both cyclist and motorcyclist can easily get lost in the blind spots around your vehicle and it is difficult to trace them particularly at dusk or in the night. Look out for them especially in built up areas or junctions where they can overtake you from the side.

Emergency vehicles – approach from any direction. Generally you hear them before you see them, take appropriate actions and allow them to pass but you should comply with all traffic signs. If you need to pull in do so without causing any harm to the emergency vehicle.

Static hazards – look out for static hazards like parked vehicles or opening of doors and bends in the road.

Weather – Bright sunlight, fog, rain and snow can severely affect visibility. So you must slow down and keep distance so that you can stop in good time. If you have to drive through accumulated flood water assess how deep it is and drive carefully. Always check and dry your brakes (by gently applying pressure on brake pedals) after passing through flood water. In icy road conditions the stopping distance increases ten times so hold back and don’t get too close to the vehicle in front.


Frequently asked questions-

1. What is defensive driving?

Defensive driving is giving yourself time to react to the various situations around you. Below are some of the essential skills for defensive driving;

 Look well ahead and see potential hazards early

 Apply hazard drill in good time and give yourself plenty of space

 Early road positioning so that you can see and be seen.

 Scan the road well ahead.

 Look ahead as far as possible

 Look for Pedestrians in the front, rear and sides of your vehicle

 Look for the position, speed and course of other road users

Food for thought – (You should give a think to the below and discuss this with your instructor)

How can the weather affect your visibility or the road surface?



Contents of this lesson are taken from:

DVLA – The Official Highway Code

Adi News Magazine

LDC Driving School’s YouTube videos

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