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Safely Navigating Colorado Roads: How a Defensive Driving Class Can Help

defensive driving in winter

When it comes to safely navigating Colorado roads, it helps to expect the unexpected. Between sharing the road with other drivers (many of whom may be new residents who are unfamiliar with our Rocky Mountain roads), dealing with the state’s notoriously quick-changing weather conditions, and watching out for wildlife, pedestrians and cyclists, being prepared for unforeseen circumstances is an essential part of being a safe Colorado motorist. 

Part of being prepared relies on being able to drive defensively. If you’re unsure what defensive driving is, or if you are not confident in your own defensive skills, it may be a good idea to consider taking a course with an official instructor. It doesn’t matter if you’re a teenager learning how to drive for the first time or a seasoned motorist who has been behind the wheel for decades; all drivers can benefit from taking a defensive driving class.

While traditional drivers ed courses teach the fundamentals of safe driving, defensive driving lessons dive into more advanced techniques that go beyond the scope of what is needed for getting a drivers license. These skills are centered around specific scenarios that drivers are unlikely to encounter every day but will most likely experience at some point in their lives.  

To help you decide whether enrolling in a course is right for you, here is some information on what to expect: 

Why Is Defensive Driving Important?

Defensive driving is driving in a way that allows you to avoid hazards by anticipating them before they pose a threat. Similarly, it also involves learning how to calmly and appropriately react when hazards can’t be avoided. Defensive drivers are less likely to get into collisions because they tend to be more alert and aware of their surroundings, and they are also less likely to panic in the face of an obstacle. 

Rather than assuming that other drivers are alert, law-abiding and courteous, motorists skilled in defensive driving will intentionally distance themselves from other drivers when possible, and they will yield to aggressive drivers rather than express road rage or fight for the right of way. Similarly, they plan ahead, such as by leaving early if it is expected to snow so that they can take it slow and easy rather than rush to make it to their destination on time. 

It really comes down to driving proactively rather than reactively, which goes a long way in keeping you and other parties safe on the road.

What Are the Benefits of Taking a Defensive Driving Class in Colorado?

Aside from gaining skills that will allow you to better protect yourself and prepare you for dangerous situations, many auto insurance companies offer discounts on their rates to those who have taken a defensive driving class. Some companies have age limitations on who is eligible for these discounts, so make sure to first check with your insurance provider to see if you qualify. 

Additionally, driving defensively reduces the likelihood that you will be cited for any traffic violations that can result in expensive fines and license suspensions. 

What Will a Defensive Driving Class Involve?

Most defensive driving classes function as a one-time course that lasts for a few hours. The driving instructor will go over the pillars of defensive driving, including: 

Practice Controlling a Vehicle During a Skid 

Colorado roads are famous for getting quite slippery during the wintertime, which is why knowing how to control a vehicle during a skid is so important. A reputable defensive driving class will show students how to handle a skid in a safe, controlled environment that mimics the real world. This tends to be one of the aspects of the class that students find the most enjoyable and valuable, as it’s a fun way to gain an important protective skill. 

Education on Precision Driving Skills

An instructor will guide you on how to expertly maneuver your vehicle in unexpected situations, allowing you to have a stronger sense of how your vehicle operates and how to control it when you have to react immediately. Gaining experience on how to brake, steer, and adjust speed when you suddenly encounter an obstacle will leave you more prepared and confident to handle a similar situation out in the real world, such as a deer wandering out on the highway.

Insight into How to Avoid and Handle Hazards

Many risks on the road can be mitigated or prevented by following basic driving guidelines, such as conducting head checks before changing lanes or maintaining adequate distance between your vehicle and the ones around you. A defensive driving class will pinpoint strategies for avoiding hazards during routine scenarios like this as well as during more serious situations, such as during heavy rain or snow storms. 

Some hazards can’t be avoided, and a reputable instructor will also provide you with the skills to react calmly and appropriately if you have to make a split-second decision while driving. 

Lessons on Avoiding Distractions While Driving 

When most people think of distracted driving, they think of distractions that are frequently noted and even regulated, such as how it is illegal in Colorado to text while operating a vehicle. The truth is that many common distractions are not explicitly stated as being illegal but still pose risks, such as eating or adjusting the GPS while driving. 

Part of defensive driving is remaining alert and focused on the road, and most defensive driving classes will go over the importance of avoiding frequently encountered distractions as well as the ones that are not discussed often. You will likely also receive expert advice on how to develop a driving routine that eliminates distractions before they have a chance to divert your attention from the road. 

Instruction on Car Care 101

One way to prevent any issues while driving is to keep your vehicle well-maintained and develop an understanding of how to perform basic maintenance in an emergency.  Knowing when to change the oil when necessary, how to jumpstart a vehicle, and how to change a tire are all items commonly taught in defensive driving courses, and being able to do each of these yourself will help you evolve into a more educated and prepared motorist. 

Closing Up

Hopefully this information will help you decide if you’re ready to advance your skills behind the wheel. Taking a defensive driving class is a great way for you to sharpen your general skills as a motorist, learn how to avoid and prevent hazards, and gain skills that will help you appropriately react if you ever encounter an emergency situation. The road can be an unpredictable place, but with the right education, you can be equipped to handle any obstacles that come your way. 

Sign Up for DriveSafe’s Fun and Informative Defensive Driving Class! 

If you’re looking to fine-tune your defensive driving skills, our three-hour program is a fun, engaging and informative way to learn how to better protect yourself behind the wheel. You’ll be able to put the skills you learn to the test in a safe, controlled environment that replicates real-world situations. By the end of our defensive driving class, we’re confident that you will feel more assured in your ability to safely handle the unexpected. 

Sign up today for one of our upcoming defensive skills days, or contact us for more information. We are here to help you become a safe driver for life!

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