A defensive driver is someone who considers possible hazards to driving and takes action to avoid them. It does not require an advanced skill set or separate training.
The goal is to learn good habits to help drivers avoid accidents that could be preventable.
For short journeys that you are familiar with, look outside and assess the weather. Give yourself extra time to get to your destination if you must drive in any sort of inclement weather that may require you to drive slower. For longer trips, check weather forecasts so you know what you will be driving into. For places you have never driven to before, program your navigation system before leaving so that you do not have to touch it while driving.
Pay attention to surroundings
Do not drive alongside large semi-trucks for extended periods of time. They may not see you if you sit in their blind spot and they block your view of the road. Leave extra space between yourself and other vehicles on the road. This gives you time to brake or maneuver around them if needed. Pay attention to any vehicles that drive erratically and put space between you. Keep an eye out for large potholes or other signs of damage to the road that may impact your driving.
Do not do anything while your car is moving that will take your attention from the road in front of you and the other vehicles around you. Do not eat or drink. Do not use your phone. Do not adjust your radio. Perform these activities before driving. Ask a passenger to help with the phone or radio. Many vehicles today have advanced technology that makes it possible to control the radio and answer a phone from the steering wheel. Use these with caution and never while in heavy traffic.
While new drivers should learn these proactive defensive habits when they earn their license, even experienced drivers can adapt their current habits to become safer on the road.