No one wants to get into a car accident. Someone could get hurt, you might have to write off your car.  If you’re at fault, and your Driver Safety Rating, the scale used by Manitoba Public Insurance – Driver and Vehicle Licensing to determine your vehicle’s premium, go down. How do you avoid a car accident?  The most certain way is to stop driving altogether – in a city like Winnipeg, though, that’s not usually the most viable option. The second option is to reduce your risk by adapting your driving behaviours – that’s where defensive driving comes in.

Defensive driving is most often contrasted with aggressive driving. When driving aggressively, you make decisions based on what will get you from Point A to Point B the fastest, disregarding the possible behaviours from other drivers. This style of driving is problematic because if you have another aggressive driver, both drivers will display unexpected behaviours.  Aggressive drivers are generally unprepared for surprises because they’re going quickly and not paying attention to conditions. This means that the likeliness of these two drivers colliding is quite high. Defensive driving, on the other hand, operates on the principle of “expect the unexpected”. In a world full of aggressive drivers, you’d see a lot of collisions; in a world full of defensive drivers, collisions would go down considerably. 

The advantages of defensive driving are clear – but how do you do it? Some folks describe it as “driving as though everyone else on the road is drunk”. One of the core tenants is the two-second rule; in optimal conditions, you should be two seconds behind the vehicle ahead of you. This is a rule of thumb because as conditions worsen, you should leave more space between you and the vehicle in front of you. Another key principle of defensive driving is to not assume other drivers are also driving defensively; in other words, you must drive at a distance safe enough that no matter what actions another driver takes, you won’t be at risk of collision with them.

The concept of defensive driving is poised to evolve in an interesting way relatively soon. When self-driving cars come into play, there’s a high likeliness that people will be more prone to “sleeping at the wheel”, so to speak. Assuming that self-driving cars aren’t going to make mistakes is natural, but it’s also the opposite of the assumptions defensive driving is predicated on; even in a self-driving car, you should remain alert, and assume all the other self-driving cars could malfunction at any moment.

Car insurance in Winnipeg is heavily influenced by your Driver Safety Rating, so your insurance premiums will be more or less a reflection of how risky your behaviour is. Defensive driving is especially important in a monopoly situation like ours because you can’t shop around for lower vehicle premiums.  A person who has a +15 Driver Safety Level (the highest level you can get) will get a 33% discount off of the Basic Autopac Rates.