Defensive Driving

Here at AAMCO Colorado, we want drivers to safely get to where they need to be. In order for that to be properly accomplished, you will need to know how to react if a problem were to arrise. These problems can either be a result of mechanical failure, the environment, or other vehicles on the road. Fortunately however, there are clear steps that have been outlined to be taken dependent on the type of situation that arises.

In 1964, Chris Imhoff of the US National Safety Council, began a program called the Driver Improvement Program. The program began Defensive Driving Courses (DDC) and created Instructor Development Courses. These classes were available to anybody who cared to take them, but often they were used through corporate sponsorships and for those made mandatory by courts. Over the years, these techniques have been refined. Along with that, various accident studies have made our knowledge more comprehensive. So there is no guess work involved, it’s understood what must be done in certain situations, and the following will attempt to make that clear to the reader for common occurrences.

Preparedness: The most important thing when trouble on the road arises, is your ability to stay calm and react in an accurate manner. This is all dependent on how prepared you are, the more you know, the better. Any action is better than no action in many scenarios. The worst thing to do is freeze up, as at that point you are beholden to chance.

Mechanical Failure

Brakes: If you have ever been driving when your brakes suddenly go out, it is a terrifying feeling. As the peddle often goes limp, and you immediately realize you cannot stop. The first thing you’ll want to do is keep your foot off the accelerator. The second thing you’ll want to do is down shift into a lower gear, eventually trying to make it to first. The third thing you’ll want to do is begin to start pumping the brakes, even though they may feel disconnected, there is a chance that they will catch or at least help to slow you down. The fourth and final thing is to try and find an area that will slow down the car for you. If there is no field or sandy area around you, you will want to use a curb. Of course be aware of pedestrians and light poles. But what you will do is rock the car over the curb and back down, continuing this until the car comes to a stop. If you are unsure whether your brakes are good or not, a Colorado brake repair can be done at any AAMCO location.

Tire Blow Out: It’s not typical for a tire to blow out unless there is neglect involved, which is either on the part of the driver or the manufacturer. Chances are also good that the tire will not blow out while driving slowly, usually they occur while on the highway. Which is evident from the remnants of tires you see litered across most highways. Again, the first thing you do is take your foot off the accelerator. You do not want to slam on the brakes, as that may spin you further out of control. But you slowly tap the brakes and attempt to steer straight ahead. The less you try to turn the better, as attempting to turn can result in over compensating which will spin you out of control.


Wind: Signs will often warn drivers of high wind areas, so be mindful of them. You have to be particularly careful when driving larger vehicles, as the greater surface area allows for wind to hit harder. To safeguard against loosing control due to wind, you simply drive slower.

Snow and Ice: Again, signs will often warn drivers to be careful of icy areas. So it’s best to be on your guard when you see them. If you feel you are loosing control, the first step is to remove your foot fromt he accelerator. You then make sure you dont slam on the brakes, as that will only further complicate things. You then begin to pump the brakes and drive as straight as possible. If you do lose control and begin to swerve, do not over correct as that will also only make things worse. The safest thing to do when control is lost is to simply ride it out unless you are confident you can correct it.

Unpaved Roads: The most common problem on unpaved roads occurs when driving too fast. So as a precaution to loosing control, just drive slower. Dirt roads often have “washboards” on them, which causes the vehicle to loose traction as it reduces the contact of the tires to the road. If you notice yourself losing control, take your foot off the accelerator and begin to coast. This will, dependent on how fast you were traveling, help the tires to regain traction. You do not want to slam on the brakes as that may spin you further out of control.

Rain: Besides reducing visibility, the worst problem rain can bring about is hydroplanning. This is also hard to see coming as a puddle is a puddle, there is no determining how deep it is as you’re driving. The safest thing again is to drive slowly when in the rain. But if you do begin to hydroplane, keep the vehicle pointed forward. Remove your foot from the accelerator and coast until traction is regained. Do not try and stop while hydroplanning as the tires are designed to spread the water out as it moves. Once stopped, your tires will act like rudders and you will head in the direction they are pointing.

Other Vehicles

Freeway Driving: Surprisingly fewer accidents occur on freeways, while more occur in rural areas. However, accidents that do occur on freeways tend to have worse results. Merging is often the culprit of freeway accidents. Which can only be negated on your part so much. You just have to be alert and ready for someone to make a mistake. As it takes one to make the mistake, but there are two potential parties to avoid the mistake turning into an accident. One very important thing to note, is that sufficient space should be given to all drivers while driving at higher speeds. As the time needed to slow down and stop is great.

Narrow Roads: Narrow roads bring about particular problems around turns and corners, especially during night time driving. If you are driving on a narrow road, just be sure that prior to taking a turn, sufficient space is available for passing cars. Do not hover or drive near the center line, you should also be driving with a bit more caution on narrow roads and at a reduced speed. Collisions may occur, but more often a driver will swerve out of the way which also results in an accident, albeit, a lesser one.

Mountain Passes: Mountain passes are all around the most dangerous of roads. More often than not, unexperienced mountain road drivers are already on edge as it is a bit nerve raking driving around corners with hundred foot drops on the side. Which means they will be driving slow, which is good, but they often unexpectedly brake which is a problem if the roads are wet or icy. So be sure to give other vehicles enough space as you cannot expect them to drive normally. Road rage is also often prevalent on mountain roads as those who can drive them with confidence, become upset that those who cannot. So they drive erratically trying to pass the other vehicles. While it should be noted, that passing on a mountain road is dangerous and should only be done if it is certain there are no other vehicles in the oncoming lane.

Hopefully these tips can help to avoid these problems in the future for the reader. Because as we know, knowledge is power, and those that know, go to AAMCO. If you are in need of a transmission repair shop, there are AAMCO free transmission checks available at participating AAMCO locations.