What does a Defensive Driving Instructor do?

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  • Written By: Sheri Cyprus
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 09 September 2019
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A defensive driving instructor teaches safe driver classes. Basically, safe driving instructors teach drivers how to prevent and avoid accidents. People who have had accidents are often required by traffic courts to attend a course to learn about driving safely. This type of defensive driving program may be called a traffic violator school. A defensive driving instructor works in this type of driver's education school with the goal of preventing previous traffic violators from causing or having further vehicle accidents.

The main duties of a defensive driving instructor are to help students think before they drive as well as teach them safe driving techniques and strategies. Defensive driving means that drivers prepare a defense strategy to have ready in case of an emergency situation on the road that could otherwise cause an accident. For example, defensive driving instructors teach students about driving in different weather conditions such as heavy rains or snow. Defensive driving instructors instruct students on proper braking techniques depending on each road situation.


A defensive driving instructor prepares curriculum that meets the legal requirements for traffic school. The course topics may include how much space to leave between one's own vehicle and the one in front as well as proper signaling techniques when changing lanes. Mechanical safety may also be discussed in classes by defensive driving instructors. Driving instructors usually must understand and communicate safety information that applies to both standard and manual cars. For instance, an instructor may discuss how to change gears to have better control of the vehicle when driving uphill.

Playing videos for the class to demonstrate course lessons is a task many defensive driving instructors do. Typically, class discussions about what was shown in the video are held after the show is over. A visual demonstration of drivers in cars reinforcing an important point in driving school curriculum can help students better grasp the concept being taught. For example, two drivers each using hand gestures to indicate the other should proceed first at an intersection with no traffic lights, and then crashing when they both go at the same time, can memorably demonstrate what not to do in that situation.

A defensive driving instructor may prepare quizzes for students to test their progress and prepare them for the final exam. Traffic school students may also complete assignments given to them by the instructor. After the final examination, the instructor may issue a defensive driving certificate to those who pass the exam and the course.



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