Defensive driving consists of keeping your options open and allowing yourself time to react to any situation which may develop. The faster you are driving the more length of cars you will have covered by the time you react to a dangerous situation and finally come to a stop.
As you increase your speed the chances of killing someone also increases disproportionately. A difference of ten miles per hour can be the difference between killing someone and not.
You need to be constantly preparing for hazards by looking as far as possible down the road in front of you. Taking note of all pedestrians and cars and their current trajectories and whether they could develop into a potential problem in a few seconds. Remember it’s also important to be seen yourself and you should be aware of other pedestrians and road user’s blind spots and position yourself accordingly.
Be aware of the rear of your car too. Putting all of this information together and building up a view of the world and it’s possible outcomes can be tough especially at first but it is necessary to progress as a safe driver. A car can overtake from behind you causing you to review your surroundings.
Things to look for can be partially hidden junctions, road works, parked cars, buses pulling out and much more. Road signs and markings often aid in judging these things and point out sharp turns and low visibility sections of road.
It goes without saying that defensive driving requires you to use your mirrors early and signal before you proceed with a man oeuvre. Be careful with misleading signals, if there is another junction on the same stretch of road signal at the right point and in good time.
Position your car carefully to negotiate any hazard but without doing it in such a way that might convey you are turning around into a junction for example. You should be in control of your speed as you negotiate the hazard so you can respond to any changes in the situation.
Defensive driving simply comes down to being able to spot potential hazards and driving to a speed that allows you time to react. Remember that the car in front should always be at least 2 seconds in front of you. Allow room to the sides for pedestrians, cyclists, and opening car doors. If the car behind you is too close then it is safer for both parties if you slow down and let them past.