Basic Elements

Basic elements of the K53 defensive driving standard

To deal with hazards safely, you should get into the habit of using the defensive driving action plan. This system is a safe and simple method of driving that will help you deal with hazards safely. Use this system when you approach any type of hazard. Defensive driving has the following action steps:


Search in all directions for any possible hazards using mirrors as is appropriate and identify any potential hazards, e.g. children playing or other moving vehicles.


Predict how the hazard might develop, e.g. could the children suddenly jump out in the road, requiring you to stop?


Decide what action to take to negotiate the hazard and act according to the risks involved, e.g. slow down and steer to the side to make sure no children get hurt.

When you see a hazard, decide on the best way to deal with it. For example, if there are children playing nearby, move as far away from the children as possible, while safely avoiding the other side of the road.

It is rare to come across only one hazard at a time when driving - most of the time you see multiple hazards at once. This means you must stay aware of all the hazards, but give most attention to the hazard that is most likely to develop into a dangerous situation and require you to take action.

The process of hazard recognition and defensive driving can be grouped into different maneuvers depending on the action you decide to pursue:

Group 1 Actions required to signal 

1 Observe

2 Check blind spot(s)

3 Signal

Group 2 Actions required to brake or change gear

4 Check mirrors

5 Apply brakes

6 Apply gears (and clutch)

Group 3: Actions required to change direction

7 Check blind spot(s)

8 Steer

Accelerate Depending on the maneuver, any combination of the three groups may be used. Applying the system of defensive driving will minimise risk of collision and protect all road users.

Search in all directions for any possible hazards to ensure it is safe ahead, behind and alongside the vehicle. Obtain clutch control before you observe.

The last thing you must do before signaling or changing direction is always to check in the blind spot on the side to which you intend to move. Turn your head to the appropriate side to check in the areas that are not visible in the mirrors (the blind spots); the appropriate side is the one to which you intend moving, e.g. changing lanes, moving off from the side of the road, turning.

Always signal your intention to change your lanes on the road or direction: Indicate in good time to warn other road users of your intention. Always check to ensure that the indicator has cancelled after a maneuver has been completed Cancel it manually if necessary. Use hand signals if the electric indicators are not working and use the hooter in good time, and only if it is an emergency.

Check your mirrors frequently to see the position of other traffic around you. Ensure all mirrors are correctly adjusted to give you a clear view behind your vehicle. Glance in the mirrors every 5-8 seconds or long enough to check the situation behind you (don't move your eyes off the road longer than necessary) lf you approach a potential hazard, check in the mirrors if you need to signal a change in direction.

Use the brakes to reduce your speed if you intend slowing down or stopping. Use the brakes (not the gears) to slow down or stop quickly. Avoid locking the brakes, i.e._ pressing the brake pedal down very hard so that the wheels stop turning, when you break under normal circumstances (not in emergencies). Be aware of your following distance and that your stopping distance increase when it is wet or icy and when you are carrying a heavy load.

Apply the clutch. Select the appropriate gear for your new speed if you intend to stop or slow down. Release the clutch again after having selected a new gear. To keep the car and its clutch well-maintained, the following tips may be helpful: Do not cause the clutch to slip, i.e. don't drive with the clutch pedal slightly depressed. Do not ride the clutch, i.e. press and release, press and release while accelerating. Do not coast, i.e. let the vehicle move with the clutch pedal depressed. Keep your foot clear of the clutch pedal when you don't need to use the clutch.

If safe, steer to adjust your position on the road according to the situation ahead, behind and alongside your vehicle. Best practices when steering includes Keep both hands on the steering wheel or handle bar, except when changing gears or giving hand signals. Place your hands in the ten-to-two or quarter to three position on the steering wheel (motor vehicles only). Turn the steering wheel or handle bar only when the vehicle is moving, never when stationary. Do not turn too wide or cut the corner when turning a corner. Stay in one lane at a time and don't wander from lane to lane in areas with multiple lanes. If the steering wheel or handle bar is wobbly, this is most likely due to faulty parts and you should then get your vehicle checked by an authorized garage.

Accelerate safely to leave the hazard. Before changing speed, check in the mirrors to make sure it is safe to do so. Always comply with the speed limit applicable to the road you are travelling on. Adjust your speed according to the pattern of traffic flow, the slope of the road, the type of road surface, visibility and weather conditions.

Responsible driving means driving with the safety and convenience of all road users in mind. A driver must operate a vehicle in a condition or manner that avoids any accident.

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