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What is a defensive driving course?

A defensive driving course is a theory and/or practical course that teaches drivers how to detect and react to risks much more quickly than a driver who has had no additional training. They range in scope from to teaching new drivers who are at more risk of having an accident through to drivers who may end up in the police, security agencies or special forces, or in a role protecting dignitaries. They can be really advantageous to drivers who are heading overseas and might end up driving in locations with really challenging traffic or roads.

For company drivers, they can make the driving part of the job much less stressful and the knowledge gained can reduce accidents and vehicle wear and tear. For employers, it can help show that they are complying with the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Some insurance companies recognise advanced driving courses and may offer a premium discount.

What are the study materials in a defensive driving course?

The study materials are usually based on the Roadcraft manual which is used by police drivers for the core defensive driving techniques. In a classroom situation, students might watch a commentary video – a video of driving with the driver describing hazards as they appear.

If the course is for high-performance defensive driving (e.g. evading attack) additional bespoke materials will be used to explain various techniques to avoid being trapped, knocked off the road or having the vehicle disabled.

In a good course, the practical part will consist of several one-on-one drives with an experienced instructor who will take you through urban and rural driving, highlighting what you should be thinking about while you are driving. For high-performance courses, this will be augmented with work on a race track or enclosed area to teach you advanced car control (e.g. j-turns, controlling slides, etc)

Who offers defensive driving courses?

Organisations such as the Institute of Advanced Motorists and RoSPA, along with other smaller private companies offer courses that are excellent value. The price of the course will be made back in fuel savings alone if it’s a good course.

If you are thinking of joining the police then you may be able to get the same education if you elect to train as traffic police.

Should companies make employees do a defensive driving course?

If your employees drive company vehicles, you have an obligation to provide training that keeps them safe. One of the largest risks to employees is being injured in a car accident, therefore employers should be able to justify the costs. Benefits include:

  • Improved fuel economy due to smoother driving techniques
  • Reduced wear and tear due to smoother driving techniques
  • Fewer minor scrapes and accidents
  • Drivers that feel more calm and confident behind the wheel
  • Reduced chance of a driver having an accident driving to or from work (something that can cause disruption to work)
  • Lower claims mean lower insurance premiums and insurance excess rates


Darren has owned several companies in the automotive, advertising and education industries. He has run driving theory educational websites since 2010.

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