What would you if you found yourself driving in a foggy road? Or what would you do if you found yourself driving in a flooded road?
Defensive driving is the practice of maintaining an awareness of road and weather conditions, other vehicles, road users and potentially hazardous situations and then taking steps to prevent a potential crash. It involves reducing the risk of collision by anticipating dangerous situations, adverse conditions or the mistakes of others; implementing driving techniques that enable drivers to address identified hazards in a predictable manner; driving with an increased awareness of everything happening around and characterized by prudence, diligence and reasonable cautiousness with the goal of making the road a safe place not only for a defensive driver but also for other road users.
Distracted drivers are a huge problem on the roads as people multitask by talking on the phone, sending messages, reading magazines or even eating as they drive. Driving any vehicle safely requires the correct attitude and skills. It requires drivers to give their full attention, concentration and dedication. Poor attitude and behavior, lack of awareness, failure to practice safe driving procedures and fatigue are some of the factors that have led to an increase in traffic crashes.
Sometimes the best way to defend oneself against dangers is to avoid confrontation with the danger. The elderly driver who avoids peak hour traffic and the driver avoiding late night driving are both applying alertness to identified hazards through defensive driving!
“A defensive driver is aware of own driving ability, vehicle capabilities and limitations, when not to drive, delay travel, when and where to remain stationary inside the vehicle, willing and able to adapt to road conditions. He is also aware of the rules of the road, accident types and types of injury leads to informed decision making on how to prevent severity of injury in road crashes and sharing the road with others” says Eng David Mbindyo, Chief Technical Manager, AA of Kenya.
According to statistics, eighty five percent of all road crashes on Kenya roads are caused by human error. Mr Francis Theuri, Director General at AAK, says “whereas it’s hard to control the actions of other drivers, by learning defensive driving techniques, one can avoid the dangers caused by bad drivers.”
“Most motorists are not intentionally dangerous. They want to be responsible drivers and to interact safely with others on the road. Many lack the knowledge and understanding of the risks involved in driving or they miss the skills, attitude or motivation to do so,” he says.
To change this scenario, the Automobile Association of Kenya which is the largest motoring club in the country, has advanced its training opportunities beyond the basics of learning “how to drive”. The AA provides defensive driving training that suit the various industry players.
During Defensive Driving Course, drivers will gain understanding of proper driving attitudes, road risks and interaction with other road users in addition a more in-depth understanding of the cars they drive.
“Defensive Driving is delivered by our competent and experienced Trainers. Classroom presentations are also enhanced with audio and visual aids as well as practical experiences on the road,” says Eng. David Mbindyo.
Defensive Driving, he explains, has a wide range to benefits to both organizations and the driver. It ensures safety for company drivers, protection of company fleet and gives organizations the confidence that its employees have required driving skills. Organizations also experience a saving on insurance premiums as a result of the reduction of claims to insurance companies. “The course is essential to all organizations that value safety”.
AAK has different course offerings that can be customized to meet needs of its different clients; a two day Intermediate Defensive Driving Course, a three day Intermediate Defensive Driving Course with practical module and Intermediate Defensive Driving Course that takes five days.
“We all know driving a car takes a lot of concentration and focus, from watching the roads cars pedestrians, speed limits, traffic lights and checking your mirrors. Distractions such as phones, reading of newspapers or eating food, make drivers less able to see potential hazards and react to them. This is what our Defensive Driving Courses focus to reduce,” he explains.
Mr. Theuri believes that after the course employers will have more confidence in the driving skills of their staff, accidents will greatly reduce on the roads, down time on vehicles due repairs lessens, risk of hijacking minimized and discipline on the road improved.