The Story of SPIDER

Written by Liam Hoch
The Story of SPIDER

The core mission of IMPROVLearning is to save lives. To do that, we utilize a combination of engaging content, behavioral neuroscience, and emerging technologies. The SPIDER Method is at the heart of it all, powering every course, training module, and instructional video.

Whether you're providing instruction for new driver education, defensive driving for experienced drivers, insurance discount, fleet training, and more, the heart of our curriculum is the SPIDER Method.

So, we thought we would take the time to explain just what the SPIDER Method is, why we use it as the basis for all of our courses, and how you can leverage the power of SPIDER to help make your students safer drivers and drive revenue for your business.

SPIDER, an Origin Story

Here at IMPROV, we’ve been educating drivers for decades. During that time, we learned a lot. What we discovered is that, unfortunately, most students, no matter the subject matter, forget roughly 99% of the things they’ve learned in just a few weeks. So, we decided we needed something simple yet memorable. Something that anyone could master and take with them to help keep them safe for life.


Working with behavioral and neuroscientists, we worked to develop the concept of the SPIDER Method. This simple acronym provides instructions to handle any dangerous scenario on the road. In those early days, confirmation that we were on the right track came from an unexpected source.


“My son was 11 at the time. He must have overheard some conversations in my office because, one day, he asked me about SPIDER. What was it? What had we been discussing? Before I finished explaining, he got excited and exclaimed, ‘…so you can sense the danger!’ When he got it so quickly, my gut told me we were on the right track,” recounted Gary Alexander, CEO of IMPROVLearning.


“A few weeks later, I was backing out of the driveway with my son in the car. I didn’t notice something in the street behind me when my son pointed it out. After avoiding a potential collision, he told me, ‘Dad, you’re not SPIDERING!’ That’s when I knew we were really on to something!” Gary continued.

What is SPIDER?

SPIDER is a basic methodology to help build the mental and physical “muscle memory” to keep drivers safe in the face of any and every potential threat they could face on the road. From stopping at a red light to reacting to a wrong-way driver on the freeway, the proper application of the SPIDER Method will help any driver make the safest decision within the split-second window they may have to do so. 


Students train to utilize the SPIDER to recognize threats before quickly developing and executing plans to avoid them by following the anagram. It functions as an order of steps drivers can follow to help them to avoid a collision. 


Here’s how it works:


  • Scan the area around their vehicle to determine any potential threats or hazards.


  • Predict which circumstances may present a threat and how they might do so.


  • Identify strategies to deal with worst-case scenarios.


  • Decide which strategy to adopt.


  • Execute the maneuver to avoid a potential collision.


  • Reflect on the situation’s outcome, including what went wrong and right, and how to improve the next time.


The more the SPIDER Method is developed and practiced, the more it becomes second nature. Drivers need to anticipate problems before they happen and be ready to enact a plan in response to any emergency. That’s where the SPIDER Method does the heavy lifting by providing an easy-to-follow series of instructions that will eventually feel like a reflex.


A driver utilizing SPIDER will constantly identify potential issues and develop plans to deal with them seamlessly while driving. That’s the safe driving muscle memory we’re trying to build in every student.


The moments saved by acting on reflexes and training can make the difference between life and death. IMPROV’s mission is saving lives, and that’s why SPIDER is at the core of our entire curriculum.

Take a Chapter for a Ride!

It’s pretty obvious how proud we are of the SPIDER Method, but we’d love for you to see its efficacy for yourself!


Below you’ll find an example of an eLearning module covering SPIDER’s role in road safety. We hope you can use it in your training and curriculum. If you like what you see, please let us know any further help we can provide!


SPIDER Defensive Driving Method

Written by
Liam Hoch
Liam Hoch researches and writes about safe driving for DriverZ. Having been a passenger in multiple near-catastrophic vehicle collisions, Liam knows first-hand the dangers of distracted, reckless, and unsafe driving. Passionate about our core principles of helping to make safer drivers and, ultimately, saving lives, Liam stays at the forefront of driving safety innovation and research.

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