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Defensive Driving and The Points System

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 29 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Defensive Driving Defensive Driving

If you drive you’ll have almost certainly encountered aggression and impatience on the roads and may have even witnessed a ‘road rage’ incident.

Defensive driving courses have been devised to enable drivers to learn safer driving techniques and to anticipate potential hazards and dangers more quickly. By adopting a defensive driving ‘mindset’ it promotes the notion of being more cautious and exercising better judgement with the aim of reducing the potential of accidents occurring.

Psychological Issues

Defensive driving courses teach you all about the psychological and emotional impact that driving can have and they teach you how to deal with stress, emotional distress, fatigue and road rage. The courses encourage you to get rid of negative psychological factors that could affect your driving and how you can develop a positive attitude behind the wheel.

Drugs and Alcohol

Whilst we’re all aware of the dangers of using drugs and alcohol combined with driving, many of us are not specifically aware of the ways in which using substances which affect your mental and physical state have a gradual impact upon your ability to control a moving vehicle. Defensive driving courses teach you about the stages and the process that using these substances has on your ability to drive and the devastating consequences that can result.

Crashes and Prevention

Car crashes kill thousands of motorists around the world every year. And, whilst some are unavoidable, the vast majority could have been prevented if people understood the elements that make up a crash scene and how to avoid them. Speed, location and size of impact are the key determining factors to all crashes and defensive driving techniques are aimed at teaching you how to scan the road and how to adapt to different surroundings, how to gauge and to keep a safe distance from other vehicles, how to overtake safely and when you shouldn’t and how to get to know your vehicle and understanding its stopping distance. They also show you how the installation and correct use of safety equipment can greatly increase your chances of getting out of a crash with minimal harm and why you should use them. This includes things like safety belts, child seats, head rests and air bags. Remember, it’s not necessarily a crash into another vehicle or an object outside your vehicle that can kill you but the impact of what goes on inside your own vehicle should you have to brake hard suddenly.

Penalty Points and Disqualification

Traffic laws are in place to protect us all from danger – meaning pedestrians and animals that may be using the road, e.g. horses, as well as ourselves and other drivers.

The penalty points system operates on a sliding scale to reflect the gravity of an offence and if a driver accumulates 12 or more points within a 3 year period, he/she must be disqualified. This is for a minimum of 6 months but can be longer if the driver has been disqualified previously. For drink related violations of the law, the driver must be disqualified immediately for a year, regardless of whether they had accumulated any points on their licence up to the date of the offence or not. This disqualification can be far longer if the driver has already been found guilty of a similar offence previously. In addition to the points system, drivers face fines and more serious driving offences can also result in imprisonment.

The court also has the power to impose disqualification for a set period before a driver has accumulated 12 penalty points on their licence, if it thinks the offence on its own merits disqualification.

Here is a brief rundown of several offences and the points you can expect to accumulate if you’re found guilty of committing one of these offences. The list is by no means exhaustive, however and additional fines for some of these offences are mandatory and even possible imprisonment can result if the offences are serious.

  • Causing death by dangerous driving – 3 to 11 points, if not immediately disqualified

  • Dangerous driving – 3 to 11 points, if not immediately disqualified

  • Causing death by careless driving under the influence of drink or drugs – 3 to 11 points, if not immediately disqualified.

  • Careless or inconsiderate driving – 3 to 9 points

  • Failing to stop after an accident or failure to report an accident – 5 to 10 points

  • Driving whilst disqualified – 6 points

  • Driving without insurance – 6 to 8 points

  • Speeding – 3 to 6 points (3 is the fixed penalty)

  • Traffic light offences – 3 points

Variations on Rules for New Drivers

It should be pointed out that new drivers who accumulate just 6 or more points within 2 years of passing their test will result in their licence being revoked and they will then have to apply for another provisional licence and pass both a theory and practical test again.

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