Commentary drive is a proven method for developing desired safe driving behaviors. When coupled with appropriate defensive driving skills and practiced often, desired behaviors can become habits and accomplished without conscious thought. The methodology includes verbalization of the desired safe driving behaviors as they are being accomplished in real time. What the driver observes should also be verbalized to help improve behavior and maintain space and visibility around the vehicle. The action of verbalizing your thoughts and explaining what is being accomplished allows each behavior to be focused on and increased until it becomes habit strength (without conscious thought).
The act of commentary drive is a learning process. Those who are shy or uncomfortable talking as they drive may struggle with the exercise at first. It even takes practice for extroverts who love to hear themselves talk. It may help to start talking about the conditions or a planned route, but the reason for a commentary drive is to focus on safe behaviors or skills. As with any skill we want to master, it takes practice to become perfect at that skill. Below is not meant to be a comprehensive list, but a core list of skills that can be focused on and verbalized with a commentary drive:

  • When possible, surround your vehicle with space.
  • Check your mirrors every five to eight seconds.
  • Establishing proper following distance.
  • Look ahead to where you’ll be at least 15 seconds into your future.
  • Scan all intersections before entering them.
  • Delay your movement by counting 1-2-3 after the car ahead starts to move.
  • Send your warning signals as soon as you think they will be recognized, but not too soon or too late.
  • Avoid distractions in your vehicle and your thinking.
  • Always wear your seatbelt. 

If your company has a measurable fleet or if you’re a parent trying to teach a teenager to drive, a commentary drive is an exceptional training tool.