There are essentially two kinds of assumptions we can make when we are driving:

  1. What other drivers are going to do; and
  2. What conditions we will encounter during our drive – will it always be the same each time?

The first assumption can create all sorts of problems if we act upon those assumptions.

For example, if I am waiting at an intersection to turn left and a car approaches from the right indicating to turn left, can I be sure that they will turn into the road I am coming out of or do they want exit immediately after? Or have they had their indicator on for the last 3km and have just forgotten to switch it off? If I act upon the first possibility and it proves incorrect, I will be responsible for the subsequent crash.

The correct action is to wait and watch that car until it is committed to the turn. This way we can be sure we are not going to pull out and create a problem and be safe, which is what defensive driving is all about.

The second type of assumption is also potentially dangerous because it influences our expectations and our judgment may be compromised if the conditions are different.

For example, turning a corner where your visibility is impaired by trees or buildings would prevent you from seeing what is coming or whether a hazard may require you to stop or take action to avoid; you may assume that as there was no issue when you travelled this way yesterday you will not encounter any problems today. When you turn the corner and that optimistic assumption is found not to be true and you suddenly have to stop or take evasive action, you are much less likely to do so successfully because the situation will take you by surprise.

If, on the other hand, you assume the ‘worst case’ scenario, you can prepare by slowing down and ensuring that if the situation arises, you have the capacity to take the necessary action and ensure you don’t compromise your safety, or that of anyone else.

Check out our driving animations online

Did you know RAC DTEC offers a defensive driving training course.