DefensiveDriving 101 -- Courtesy Is The Antidote To Dangerous Driving

In order to be respectful to a fellow human being, we first have to be mindful of them... to admit the reality of them... isn't that right? The dictionary uses the locution "consideration toward others" to describe politeness.

Let's chew over this for a bit, shall we? The more you march on toward being a skilled driver, the easier it is to observe that the common denominator to defensivedriving is your awareness of what's transpiring beyond your vehicle perimeter.

Most all the issues, minus one, that can make one into a bad driver revolve around actions within the vehicle. Phone calls, passengers, and writing text messages, music... all this stuff is what distracts you from paying attention to what's transpiring outside your vehicle.

The other part is your mind-set. Chew over it, if you are browned off with something, a driver's seat is not the best spot to be and you should be self-aware enough to adapt your driving style till you chill out, or not drive at all. Your touchstone should always be politeness.

If you are respectful then a bunch of good things are transpiring in that processor in your head. When you are respectful, you are focusing on what's outside. You are also mindful to other drivers' wants, which is as decent as it gets. There are rafts of occasions on the routine journey around town to be polite to other drivers. They may not on every occasion notice your politeness, but they usually do. In my extensive experience those minor benignities you distribute to complete strangers usually get returned back to you by other complete strangers as if by white magic... kind of cool really. You all of a sudden notice drivers letting you into tight spots when earlier they behaved like jerks... white magic I say to you.

If you will just risk to be as nice as possible to other drivers for one week, I bet you will be astounded. It really alters your whole perspective on driving while at the same time clearly identifying you as a authentic class act. Now, who among us doesn't wish to be a class act?

What ends up transpiring, is that you shortly find yourself seeking opportunities to give the other guy a break, which leaves you feeling proud of yourself. It also directs you... pay attention here... directs you outside of the bubble in your car. You are concentrating on what's transpiring out there much more, when you risk to be respectful to other drivers.

This minor exercise in human relations 101 can catapult you from a mediocre driver to a safe one in no time flat. So... you if you wish to be an expert driver, it's that easy... just cut the other guy some slack. Even if they don't appreciate it, you will be a better person and an adept driver for doing it.

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Let me know what do you think? 75 comments

djtphn1 profile image

djtphn1 8 years ago from Riverside County, California

Wow, I think I am a really bad driver now!!!! I will have to look at that now!!!!LOL

Misha profile image

Misha 8 years ago from DC Area Author


I don't believe you! You are pretending, I know :)

G-Ma Johnson profile image

G-Ma Johnson 8 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

Sounds like you attended a driver's course after the ticket?? :O) But everything you say is true. I like to give a big smile and you would be surprised how many are returned...with a look of question??? Do I know her? Or a every time. And being a curtious driver always pays off...In many ways.... I have found after be generous to other driver and kind I am rewarded over and over. Great reminder of road nice-ness G-Ma :O) hugs

C.M. Vanderlinden profile image

C.M. Vanderlinden 8 years ago from Metro Detroit

This is why I enjoy your hubs so much, Misha---rarely are they only about driving. This one gives us something to think about, whether we are in the car or not :-)

Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

You're absolutely right, but you shouldn't limit it just to the roads. You're 'White Magic' will work off and on the roads equally.

Great HUB

regards Zsuzsy

LdsNana-AskMormon profile image

LdsNana-AskMormon 8 years ago from Southern California

Good timing Misha. When I clicked on your Hub, my 16-year-old son just happen to walk in the room. If you recall, I mentioned him getting his license just recently, etc... So, I told him about you, and read him your hub:-)

Honestly, just to give them something like this to think about is subliminally powerful. The next time someone cuts him some slack... he will think, "that was cool", and your words will most likely come to his mind. (me too)

Good subject. Thanks.



chabrenas profile image

chabrenas 8 years ago from middle of France

Thanks, Misha. That was a quick response,and it looks as if it hit home with quite a few people.

Misha profile image

Misha 8 years ago from DC Area Author

Thanks guys, I appreciate you taking time to read and comment :)

No, G-Ma, I did not attend the course yet. I have my court date postponed to the end of March, so I still have some time :) Hugs to you, too - and I never thought you could behave differently ;)

Colleen, yeah, I do think driving is not something entirely separate. I think we drive pretty much as we live in general... And thank you for your compliments, you keep putting that reddish tone on my cheeks ;)

Zsuzsy, thanks, sure it will work everywhere, but there is a special twist to that associated with driving. To be a safe driver, you have to channel your attention outside of your car. And being courteous does just that, directs your attention outside - on top of usual, off-the-road, benefits :)

Nana, I'm happy I was able to help your son a tad. Thanks for mentioning this - I feel really flattered, as everybody whose work is actually used :)

Chabrenas, sorry I did not follow your request by the letter :) I do believe that while mechanical skills are important for good driving, what happens in the driver's head is way more important..

LdsNana-AskMormon profile image

LdsNana-AskMormon 8 years ago from Southern California

Thanks Misha -

As a driver, I am always looking ahead and trying to ascertain, WHAT another driver just MIGHT do... and preparing my move, IF that actually happened.

I drive fast, but always make sure I have open space so that I can react accordingly.



Misha profile image

Misha 8 years ago from DC Area Author

LOL, that's pretty much sums up my driving phylosophy, too :D

And I'm sure you don't have any accidents - neither at fault, nor not at fault - for all the years you employ this line of thinking ;)

Cleanclover profile image

Cleanclover 8 years ago from Piece of land!

I love driving too. I am slow driver because i am Wiser ;-). Nice hub yes courtesy and slowness keeps accidents away!

Misha profile image

Misha 8 years ago from DC Area Author

As long as you are doing it courteously, I don't have a problem with your slow driving :D

William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

I'm always extra courteous when I see drivers like those in your photos. But, truly, anyone who follows your advice will surely be a better driver. Your approach here is far more effective than the usual rundown of the Rules of the Road.

Ashok Raj profile image

Ashok Raj 8 years ago from India

You are absolutely right, Misha. We are twin souls; I have been telling everyone to be nice and courteous, and even go a bit more and be nicer than needed. When we swear at a driver, that is very infectious; he goes around infecting everyone around with anger and hate. When we smile and exchange good words, that's infectious too. Especially in the morning. It's a great chance to spread sweetness and light in many parts of our city!

Great point raised, and no debates about it! :)

MrMarmalade profile image

MrMarmalade 8 years ago from Sydney


Never has truer word been spoken, I tend to believe if you can not be courteous on the road, you are never going to courteous on considerate any where else. Thank you a great hub

peren_vah 8 years ago

REALLY a great hub with lots of great advices... i think im really BAD DRIVER NOW

About-The-Home profile image

About-The-Home 8 years ago

Great hub Misha, looking forward to your next one. (Hint,hint)

Another important factor is the ability to quickly let go when someone is discourteous to you.

I remember instances when other drivers have cut me up and it has made me drive more aggressively as well as ruining the rest of my day.

Hopefully, I can now say to myself "What a crazy idiot" and move on.

Of course the opposite is true as you say, and a pleasant smile or gesture can make me feel good for the rest of the day. So spread a little happiness.

carauctionsonline profile image

carauctionsonline 8 years ago from United States

great tips!

seamus profile image

seamus 8 years ago

I wish everyone in the DC area would read this!

Misha profile image

Misha 8 years ago from DC Area Author

Thanks, guys :)

William, yeah, I can understand why - and I guess I share this, too :P As for effectiveness - you know better than me that governments tend to show off instead of doing ...

Ashok, you are one of the most courteous people I know :)

MrM, I tend to agree to you :)

Peren_vah, nobody knows better than you - but you can change. You made the first step already, and it will be easier down the road :)

manoharv, I don't understand what you said, sorry

About-the-home, yeah, and this skill is really difficult to master. I've been working on this for many years, and still I can't help it sometimes :(

Seamus, some people certainly would :)

Iðunn 8 years ago

excellent advice and a good way to avoid accidents. you can be right and dead, or courteous/defensive driver and alive. and it does make you feel better about yourself.

grand hub~

Misha profile image

Misha 8 years ago from DC Area Author

Thanks, Idunn, I'm glad you chimed in - and surprisingly I agree to you one more time :P

Iðunn 8 years ago

we do have the occasional moments, don't we :p

Andy Xie profile image

Andy Xie 8 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Thanks for another great hubpage! These are great tips on not only avoiding accidents, but also for just generally being a good driver. As well, it's good to look out for pedestrians that are crossing the street. Sometimes they walk frustratingly slow, but honking doesn't do much to help, does it.

Misha profile image

Misha 8 years ago from DC Area Author

Idunn, sure we do. I can recall at least a couple of cases :P

Andy, thanks for chiming in :) As for slow pedestrians and honking drivers, you reminded me about one hilarious video, and I even went out and found it. Have fun (providing you did not see it before :))

rockinjoe profile image

rockinjoe 8 years ago from Standing right behind you!

Misha, I hate it when you're right. I'll definitely try to keep your hub in mind when driving. At the very least, I'll try and smile before giving some idiot the finger.

Seriously, great Hub!

Iðunn 8 years ago

rockinjoe, if I cut someone off to get into a lane I want in high traffic, I smile and wave like an idiot to them so they will just think "stupid broad, she's acting like I LET her in", but pass it off without road rage.

this works, by the way. at least for me. :D

Misha profile image

Misha 8 years ago from DC Area Author

Rockinjoe, this will be a huge step for humanity in the right direction :D

Idunn, my wife behaves like that, too ;)

SandraMead profile image

SandraMead 8 years ago

Really nice sentiments. Thank you, Misha

monitor profile image

monitor 8 years ago from The world.

Great driving tips. Great life in the photos. Nice work thanks heaps.

Misha profile image

Misha 8 years ago from DC Area Author

Thanks for stopping by, guys :)

Ghost32 8 years ago

Hey, Misha--There isn't really much to add, what with your Hub PLUS all the on target comments, but I'll add one more anyway.

I've been a truck driver off and on over the years and in fact may need to go back to it for a few more years (I'll know in a matter of weeks). One particular incident came to mind as I was reading this page. It occurred in Pennsylvania in 2001 or 2002. I don't remember which highway, but definitely a multilane freeway, westbound, just at that terrible time of day when the sun is setting and right in your face.

I was driving a loaded 18 wheeler, towing a 53-foot dry van, heavily loaded with copper pipe. Traffic was heavy. I was in the center lane and had backed down off the throttle several times to let other vehicles in ahead of me. I was also maintaining considerable following distance, which is both courteous (not tailgating) and a safety factor.

Just over a low hill, the traffic was stopped as thoroughly as if the vehicles had been statues, not rolling stock. A bit farther on ahead, there had been a serious wreck, and everything was backed up almost to the crest of the hill. Also, traffic was too thick to move either to left or right. All I could do was stop as quickly as possible and make sure I did it in a straight line. I got it done, but with only about 6 feet to spare.

Several civilian 4-wheelers in the fast lane to my left were not so fortunate. Three separate impacts occurred as vehicles were rearended, one of them right beside my rig. In fact, I thought for a second one of them was going to be knocked far enough to one side to hit my trailer, but fortunately it was only a near miss.

Had I been EITHER the tiniest bit less courteous OR the tiniest bit more impatient, I defintely would have an accident report to file, for sure.

Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 8 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

Ghost, I'd be happy to share the road with you and your rig any time!

Misha, great advice.  And great comments from everybody. 

When I was a kid, we had to take a driving course in high school.  It was a requirement of the phys ed curriculum, and it was both classroom study and on-the-road instruction.  The course was called "Defensive Driving." 

Your hub is doubly valuable today, since most young drivers are not required to have any kind of formal driving instruction, and thus they don't have the opportunity to learn about defensive driving, that is unless the people from whom they learn to drive both practice and teach this rule of road safety.

Personally, I curse a lot at rude and idiotic drivers.  But I always do it with a smile!

Kanelbullar profile image

Kanelbullar 8 years ago from Dublin, Eire

nice 1

traffickahuna profile image

traffickahuna 8 years ago from Pittsburg

I remember learning to was interesting..LOL

ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

Misha, I have made a decision to be courteous and respectful on the road. And 98% of the time I am (The 2 %? Never mind LOL) It feels good to be one, I don't get headaches and nobody ruins my day. And it feels pretty good too when you experience "kindness" on the road. Thank you for writing this hub. I know exactly who to forward this to.:-)


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 8 years ago from Southern California, USA

Lots of people should read this one.  Honestly, I think it would help them be better drivers :).

Andy Xie profile image

Andy Xie 8 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, Canada

traffickahuna - I remember learning to drive too! I learned how to drive a motorcycle first, though.

Misha profile image

Misha 8 years ago from DC Area Author

Thanks a lot guys :)

Ghost - Thanks for your story - it was definitely fun reading and it has something to ponder about. :)

Sally - Yeah, and this is the sad part of it. They stopped teaching kids how to drive, and most parents don't know it themselves - so we have natural selection taking care of this...

Michelle - I can't believe you can be not courteus and respectfull - EVER :)

solarstories profile image

solarstories 8 years ago from Pacific Northwest

Great advice. It also applies to bicycles!

2patricias profile image

2patricias 8 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

I enjoy driving the most when I am focussing on being aware of other drivers and their needs. That is partly because it makes me feel good about myself, but mostly because sometimes other drivers smile at me (at least in urban traffic). Thanks for the hub.

Kevy Rae profile image

Kevy Rae 8 years ago from Dallas, Texas

I hate tailgaters the most! A lot of drivers in Dallas are very rude!

listenup 8 years ago

That's very Buddhist. I belileve it to work in all areas of our lives. Well done. I like it!

Maytag 8 years ago

I am a proud truck driver, I have been driving now for 18 yrs I drive for Eastern Freight Ways Inc. I average 140,000 miles a yr.most of this is east of Chicago most of the time i run from IL. to NJ. but can go any where i have been to LA. The point I am trying to get at is I see all kinds of drivers most are good safe drivers, there are plenty of idots out there as both in 4 wheelers(cars or pick/ups,vans) and 18wheelers some should not be driving at all but you and I know that they are out there. The biggest thing that bothers me and quite honestly scares me is, So many 4 wheelers either don't know or don't care how much distance it takes to stop a moving truck.I can't tell how many near misses I have at entrance and exit ramps because some one wasn't paying attn. or just had to get in front of you only to hit there brakes and exit in front of you. As a result I am always paying close attn to this area. At 55 mph with all things perfect. and an alert driver it takes 259 ft to bring a fully lded 18 whlr to a stop if the roads are wet add another 100 ft to and if the truck is empty the stop distance would be 400 ft. bobtail tractors is the most dangerous thing on the highway,because a bobtail has all the power and speed but very little braking . This is because the truck subspention is designed to work most effectivly with a ld over the axles. when its bobtail it has no wieght and the brakes will lock up it stead of stopping, at 55mph it would take that bobtail about 400ft to stop and if the roads are wet as much as 600 ft and if you increase the speed so does stopping distance.. Please keep this in mind next time you pass a truck. and You can wave at us most of us are safe and courtous drivers,as with most drivers on the road, Tx. don't have the market cornerd on tailgaters they are every where.

I don't care what you are driving if you give others respect you will get repect back,I try not to hold anyone up when I pass but it will happen and I will move out of your way as soon as I can. drive safe stay alert accidents happen in a split second. Use a hands free if you must talk and drive, don't read, watch movie's or do you paperwork going down the road.I have my share of bad habits too. Habits cane be good or bad.The bad ones coyuld catch up with us one day. the good ones will keep us safe. I am out there with you. One more thing when you are trying to merge onto a highwat or change lanes and you can see at truck coming, if you see hit light either turn on and off or flash you high beams they are telling you that they know you are there and you can merge or change lanes they will wait for you to go.

Misha profile image

Misha 8 years ago from DC Area Author

Thanks Maytag!

Yes, most people don't have any idea what it is to drive an 18-wheeler, what this humangous thing can or cannot do. It is always beneficial when someone like you chimes in and tells about first hand experience, so at least some people might start thinking about it.

yeastcure profile image

yeastcure 8 years ago

Great hub! Thanks!

pahko profile image

pahko 8 years ago from The Voices In My Head

Screw it man, just run them over. That'll teach them.

pahko profile image

pahko 8 years ago from The Voices In My Head

I'm just joking. Defensive driving really is critical for all of us. Good article too bro.

Misha profile image

Misha 8 years ago from DC Area Author

LOL I have enough sense of humor to appreciate your joke :)

Brainstormer profile image

Brainstormer 8 years ago from Australia

"Your touchstone should always be politeness" and "directs you outside of the bubble in your car". Great lines Misha.

I am so into this hub's philosophy. I find people who are unforgiving of another driver mistakes get under my skin which in return reduces my ability to drive safely.

Nice Hub and thanks.

herm 7 years ago

well slow drivers need to get off the road

Roger Rager profile image

Roger Rager 7 years ago from Greenville, Alabama

You seem like a man who knows what he's talking about, but I am disturbed by the lack of face breaking in this article...

sandra rinck 7 years ago

True dat Misha, when someone is being a jerk on the road, I just let them in or whatever just to stay safe. I would much rather get home alive with my kid or to see my kid then crash because some jerk wanted to cut in or whatever.

Roger Rager, what the heck is "face breaking"?

Roger Rager profile image

Roger Rager 7 years ago from Greenville, Alabama

@sandra rinck: I'd try to explain, but unfortunately Sandra, you have a womb. Womb people never understand Roger.

Lgali profile image

Lgali 7 years ago

Great hub Misha I love driving only highways

Misha profile image

Misha 7 years ago from DC Area Author

Thanks for stopping by guys :)

issues veritas 7 years ago


The problem, that I find in this politeness remedy is that there enough rude drivers that own the road making it dangerous for others.

People are rude even when they are walking, and driving doesn't improve their disposition.

I did a hub, that tried to list the different types of drivers, but I am sure I missed many types.

It is still helpful to use the wisdom mentioned in the hub as somewhat of a defense.

Misha profile image

Misha 7 years ago from DC Area Author

My observations tell me a bit differently Issues. People are just inconsiderate of others, they mostly don't mean to be rude. And once you show them some sort of friendliness, they tend to return it :)

Yet this hub has another meaning that you seem to miss. When you concentrate outside, you increase your awareness of what is happening around you, and lack of such awareness is the root cause of the lion share of accidents. :)

earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 7 years ago from Melbourne Australia

Good advice Misha. If you smile and give friendly and courteous hand signs, you can travel right across town without a hitch.Consideration of other drivers is catching thats for sure.This hub should do well, the young ladies are very pretty.

Misha profile image

Misha 7 years ago from DC Area Author

Thanks for stopping by Ernest! Yep, we both know this :)

Staci-Barbo7 profile image

Staci-Barbo7 7 years ago from North Carolina

Misha, great Hub!  Courtesy is always in style, no matter where you happen to be - on the road, at home, on the job, in traffic, with your spouse and kids, and with your boss or employees.  This is as much a Hub about life principles as it is about driving. Love it!  

Misha profile image

Misha 7 years ago from DC Area Author

Thanks Staci! Yes, I do agree courtesy as a general principle benefits everybody :)

Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 7 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

Good advice, Misha. Treat other drivers as you would like to be treated. What a concept! I love the idea of focusing your attention outside the car instead of inside. That's well put.

Pardon me while I take one hand off the wheel so I can give you a thumbs up! MM

Misha profile image

Misha 7 years ago from DC Area Author

LOL Thanks MM! Always love to see you stopping by my hubs, no exception this time :)

Christine 7 years ago

You're one sexy guy, and your driving tips totally rock.

Misha profile image

Misha 7 years ago from DC Area Author

Awww, thank you Christine! :)

SunShineSnow profile image

SunShineSnow 7 years ago from Texas

Great hub, I really wish there were more people following this advice.

Misha profile image

Misha 7 years ago from DC Area Author

Thanks for stopping by SunShine, I wish that too :)

mikelong profile image

mikelong 6 years ago from The largest convict colony in the United States

I agree with you absolutely Misha...and there are few things in this world I enjoy more than driving....

Watching people navigate themselves down the road is also an excellent way to observe how people relate to can tell who the self-centered are...who the careless are, and so forth....

For all the bad drivers out there, I have come to realize that most do a pretty good job....I hope this trickles into ordinary, non-driving, life as well...

APAGE 6 years ago

I've been a police officer for over 30 years in a tourist area in Missouri. During the summer our traffic increases tremendously. Even in the winter when our population is less than 7000 we have several accidents daily, largely due to inattention, tailgaiting and failure to follow the rules of the road. I don't like issuing citations, never have but they have their place and that is awareness. There is an exception to this however, those people who drive without licenses or insurance. As drivers we have the responsibility to be courteous and respectful to those other drivers who also have the right to be on the road. Sure we all have that momment when we're cut off or crowded, just grin and make that comment with a smile and remember to maintain a safe distance.

dsmythe profile image

dsmythe 5 years ago

They need to teach more about defensive driving. Being alert of what other drivers and pedestrians are doing is just as or even more than what you're doing. I find myself always watching what people are doing, weather they're gonna pull out in front of me or not even paying attention at all. Being a defensive driver has saved me from getting into many accidents.

Misha profile image

Misha 5 years ago from DC Area Author

You can't teach those who don't want to learn...

teaching china 5 years ago

A little consideration can go a long way, not only in driving. Nice write up.

The Blagsmith profile image

The Blagsmith 5 years ago from Britain

When I was younger I remember an old lady puffing as she carried some bags. I wondered how to help, but I was worried that she would be suspicious of my motives if I offered to carry them for her. So instead, I beamed her as an authentic smile as I could. And I swear she seemed to soup up and carried her bags with less effort.

Misha - it is always good to show courtesy and your hub illustrates it beautifully. Also thank you for the consideration you showed me and my family during the Japanese earthquake.

Career-Guide profile image

Career-Guide 5 years ago from Mars

Hii Misha,

I started from reading your most popular hub, and still unable to move back to another hub author, it shows how terrific funtablush writer you are... every time i finish reading and clicking on a new article by you and learning something new its good to follow you your articles keep engaging readers from top to bottom..... i am your fan now

I am sensible about my driving, whenever i saw the girls like these photos loose the sense of driving @ that time i had to take extra courtesy.

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