Topic Progress:

Lesson 1 – Topic 3

Defensive Driving Theory

One of the goals of a defensive driving course is to teach defensive driving theory. Defensive driving theory is a type of training that goes beyond what one might learn in a Driver Education or Safety and Wellness class or when driving with a parent during your Supervised Driving Period.

Defensive driving theory goes beyond that. It is a theory of driving in which the driver anticipates what others drivers might do, takes into account weather and physical characteristics such as road conditions, the condition of the driver, the condition of the vehicle and he or she prepares for it. If you think about it, every time you get in a vehicle, the trip is different even if you take the same trip once or twice a day. Most everything changes, by learning to drive defensively; you are taking your own on the road conduct to a higher level, improving your awareness, your skills and the driving experience for all. Most of all you are becoming a safer and more skilled driver.

When you drive, try to remember this simple prompt for defensive driving – F O C U S

F – Feel your best.

O – Observe your surroundings.

C – Concentrate fully on the task at hand.

U – Use your common sense.

S – Stay in control.

If you read the newspapers, watch the TV news, or follow social media, SmartDrive is sure you have noticed the increase in attention to inattentive driving – DISTRACTED DRIVING.


CREDIT: Distraction.gov “Manifesto”

SmartDrive has been covering these topics since its inception; we would like to continue with two more videos.


CREDIT: ABC News “Nightline”

This news report shows the ripple effect from the death of a distracted driver on her family.


Credit: KCRA News, Sacramento, CA  “Teen Killed While Texting and Driving”

Let us ask you, was that last text worth it? Could it have waited until you parked? Ten years from now, would reading or sending that text REALLY have been that critical? Perhaps, waiting to read or send that text might have been THAT critical. Think it through. Be a SmartDriver.

Driving is the ultimate multi-tasking action we can attempt, but can we really multitask?


CREDIT: Professor Daniel Willingham, University of Virginia

It is a complex juggling act that, with the addition of one ball too many, things begin to fall.

Knowing that, it is important to realize as you begin your SmartDrive journey that driving is not a right, but a privilege. As such, that privilege can be taken away by the state, by a judge and for Teen Drivers, by your parents, if you fail to accept the responsibilities of driving.

Let’s review those responsibilities:

  1. Be alert at all times while making a variety of maneuvers.
  2. Be adept at speeding up, slowing down, changing lanes, turning and stopping under varying conditions.
  3. Be aware of other motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists, road signs, road hazards and road and weather conditions.
  4. Exercise good driving judgment at all times so that decisions are timely and sound.
  5. Pay attention your body, don’t take the wheel if you are tired or feeling sick and NEVER, EVER take the wheel if impaired by drugs, legal/illegal/over the counter, or alcohol.
  6. Manage your driving environment — this includes your passengers — to minimize unnecessary distractions and devote your full attention to the task at hand.
  7. Maintain the appropriate driving attitude — don’t be aggressive, emotionally distracted, or rushed when you take the wheel. The wrong attitude can be devastating.
  8. Maintain your vehicle. You wouldn’t leave the house without brushing your teeth, that’s personal hygiene. Adopt an attitude of good vehicle “hygiene” keep your car clean, fueled, and check things like tire inflation, light operation, fluid levels and investigate promptly any unusual sounds or warning signals — it’s your car’s way of telling you something’s unsafe.
  9. Practice defensive driving. Defensive driving simply means anticipating danger to avoid becoming involved in collisions and crashes.
  10. Make sure you and your passengers ALWAYS wear your seatbelts. Take a moment to check, it could save lives.

Here are a few videos to help you understand the importance of having F.O.C.U.S. and taking responsibility for your drive – both behind the wheel and as a passenger.

Remember to use – L. A. M. B. + C – when getting behind the wheel:

Lock your doors
Adjust Your Seat
Adjust Your Mirrors
Seat Belts for Everyone

+ Turn Your Cell phone OFF


CREDIT:  Partners for Safe Teen Driving, “Proper Mirror Adjustment”

CREDIT: Teen Driving Plan, “Adjust the Seat Belts”


CREDIT:  County of San Bernardino, CA, “Seat Belts ON, Cell Phones OFF”