The Proactive Driver


An Unofficial Guide for All Drivers
Hermann S. Botzow, Jr.

Grove Street Books
2014 • 176 pp. 6 x 9″




Check out Hermann Botzow’s website for The Proactive Driver

Taking defensive driving to the next level in the hope of saving lives

Today, over 37,000 Americans die annually in highway crashes, the equivalent of the entire population of a small city. The purpose of this book is to save lives. Hermann Botzow began gathering material for The Proactive Driver ten years ago after witnessing the death of a young mother in a horrible crash. As he conducted his research, he discovered that most of us already are good drivers. In fact, many of us drive with pride. And yet, we must be constantly vigilant for encounters with distracted drivers, teens, reckless drivers, senior motorists, DUI drivers, and all sorts of weather and roadway related hazards.

In The Proactive Driver, Botzow presents an entirely new concept: proactive driving. Proactive driving takes defensive driving to a more comprehensive level in which the driver is constantly engaged in scouting, deciding, and acting rather than having one’s actions determined primarily by other drivers. He reviews over 100 separate areas of driver knowledge and skills that go well beyond the basic facts needed to pass a driver’s test. Throughout, the author uses personal experiences to illustrate important points, and he suggests ways in which our highways can be improved and our traffic laws made more uniform.

HermBotzowHERMANN S. BOTZOW spent thirty-seven years as a transportation engineer, including positions with the Ohio Department of Transportation, the US Department of Transportation, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. A Life Member of the Institute of Transportation Engineers, he has authored three other books on transportation issues and has written numerous papers for the Highway Research Board and the American Society of Civil Engineers. Since retiring, he has devoted himself to developing the principles of proactive driving, taking defensive driving to the next level in the hopes of saving lives.

Teaching Teenagers to be Proactive Drivers

“Approximately fifty years ago, in the mid to late 70’s, Hermann Botzow, author of The Proactive Driver, taught three teenage girls how to drive and how to drive well. We learned by practicing in farm fields with younger siblings in the back seat of the family van yelling “Watch out for the groundhog hole!”. We learned by going to vacant parking lots and gauging speed, hitting the brake, and gauging stop time. And we learned by being proactive. We applied what we learned on Route 17 in southern New York State and northern New Jersey. If you know the area, you know it’s four lanes, two each direction, with cars sometimes moving bumper to bumper at sixty miles per hour. What happens when you get a flat tire in this situation and there’s no breakdown lane? What do you do when you’re squeezed between two Mack trucks, one in front blocking your view and the other on the right blocking your exit? You need to read The Proactive Driver to discover this and all the other driving wisdom that Herm imparted to these three girls. To this day, none of us have been in a serious fender bender. Now as the eldest of the three I’m preparing to teach my teenager how to drive. The techniques outlined in The Proactive Driver will be directly applicable to the sometimes inattentive upcoming generation. My hope is that this book will be adopted by driver education programs so all young drivers will learn the tools for being a good proactive driver! Highly recommended.”

–Elizabeth McKinnon


Comprehensive discussion of driving topics

“The value of this encyclopedic book on driving to me was that it gives an evidence-based discussion of things that I do every day without thinking as I drive around. It is not without some surprises relative to things I do that I shouldn’t (using a cell phone while driving – dealt with convincingly in a chapter entitled “The Distracted Driver”). It is very complete in its coverage of driving topics, carefully organized and written with humor and references to scientific sources and personal experiences of the author. Not at all preachy or theoretical but it certainly loads my wife’s cannon as she comments on my driving skills and transgressions. Probably a good read for young drivers while having a frank discussion of the issues presented by elderly drivers to their families and themselves. Highly recommended.”

–George W. Scott Jr.


“Read this book and pass it on to your teenage children and your elderly parents. If I could learn something from this book after 38 years of bus driving, the low mileage driver is going to learn a great deal. Combine this with becoming your own biggest critic behind the wheel and your driving will improve. Highly recommended.”

–Mary E.


“As a professional driver, I can appreciate this book and will urge my eight grandchildren to read it because I care. Highly recommended.”

–Peter E. Beckett