What is defensive driving?

Learn more about this concept and discover how you can anticipate dangerous situations to avoid traffic accidents

In traffic, defensive driving follows a well-known saying: prevention is better than cure. After all, this is a way of driving a vehicle with extra attention to various factors that can cause accidents — and, thus, avoiding them.

If you have doubts about what defensive driving is, let's start with the concept described in Defensive Driving Manual created in 2005 by Denatran (today Senatran – National Traffic Secretariat).

Defensive driving is the way of driving that allows you to recognize dangerous situations in advance and predict what could happen to you, your companions, your vehicle and whoever else is on the road.

The principles of defensive driving

To do this, you need to pay attention to a series of factors that can cause accidents and prepare to avoid them. Below, we list three essential points of defensive driving.


Accident prevention starts with the condition of the vehicle itself. That's why it's important not to neglect preventive and periodic maintenance, one of the components of this care booklet.

Brakes, suspensions, tires, steering and other gears need to be in good working order to prevent any failure in these mechanisms from causing an accident.

The vehicle inspection must include items such as flashlights and headlights, windshield wipers and rear view mirrors. In everyday life, you can take precautions such as checking whether the lights, defoggers and windshield wipers are working, calibrating the tires and testing the seat belts.


Whoever is going to drive needs to be in good condition to do so. Here, we don’t just want to draw attention to the consumption of alcoholic beverages. It is important that the person is not tired when driving, for example. Anyone who has taken any medication that causes drowsiness should also not venture in the direction.

Once in the vehicle, it is important to be in the correct driving position, which prevents physical wear and tear and helps to avoid dangerous situations. 

Hands on the steering wheel, wearing a seat belt, having your back resting on the seat and not touching your cell phone or wearing flip-flops are among the mandatory recommendations for defensive driving.

The point is that the body and mind need to be able to pay as much attention as possible to everything that happens around them. 


The conditions of streets, avenues, roads and other roads are also part of defensive driving. Rain and fog require a reduction in speed. Works on the track, ditto.

It is also necessary to slow down when approaching crowds. You know those streets full of crowded bars where people end up spilling out beyond the sidewalks and occupying the gutters and even the sides of the roads? These are regions where carelessness can easily cause a collision.

Therefore, when driving defensively, drivers need to be prepared to deal with the mistakes of others. It is important to remain alert to act in cases such as pedestrians crossing outside the lane, doing everything possible to avoid the worst in situations like this.

Even the state of conservation of the road comes into this equation. A potholed street poses more risk of accidents than one that is well paved, for example.

This preventive mode of action is what we call safe behavior in traffic. It involves measures such as maintaining a safe distance from the vehicle in front and not risking dangerous overtaking, such as those made near bends in the road.

Rules booklet

Since they have no control over the behavior of others, or the weather and eventualities of all kinds, drivers have to respect the laws and rules of the road. And to do that, they need to know them.

This is another principle of defensive driving: that of legislation.

Drivers must correctly interpret signs and obey legal regulations, not just for fear of being fined.

The main reason for following the rules is precisely because they are great allies of traffic Safety.

What has iFood done for defensive driving?

Among its initiatives to ensure the safety of delivery men and women who are partners of the platform in traffic, the company started to offer, in 2023, a classroom course defensive driving for these professionals.

The first edition of the course was held in three cities – Brasília, Fortaleza and Recife – and trained 290 delivery drivers. iFood's goal now is to expand the project to more municipalities.

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