While driving along the Texas gulf coast, I once ran into fog that was so heavy even the seagulls were flying on instruments!
As a defensive driver, your original driving plan must continue to evolve as you navigate your way along the road. You must always be attentive and ready to adjust to changing circumstances.
Having on the road awareness means that you are constantly working on a plan to reduce your chances of being in a collision with other vehicles, pedestrians, animals or objects.
Rolling With a Plan
Scanning Ahead and Using Mirrors
Looking ahead is a good thing to do. The receptionist at my dentist’s office, for example, tries to book my next appointment six months in advance. “How’s 2:23 P.M. on June 3rd?” she will ask. In response, I’m tempted to say, “I’m sorry, but that won’t work. I already have a nap scheduled for 2:21 P.M. that day.”
Looking or scanning ahead is a key factor to safe driving. You must constantly work to see the “Big Picture.” A study done by the National Highway Traffic Safety Association has found that driver inattention is a primary or contributing factor in as many as 50 percent of all crashes.
So be sure to scan well ahead and check your mirrors every 10 to 15 seconds.
Keep your eyes moving and make yourself aware of everything that is going on all around you.
What you can’t see in a mirror is hidden in your blind spot so be sure to turn your head for a complete check of traffic.
Scanning ahead, using your mirrors and checking your blind spots are all very important practices, because how well and how safely you drive depends primarily on what you can see.
Rolling With a Plan
At the state fair, Garth, Ginger and I really have fun riding the bumper cars together. Last year, there was a middle-aged man driving a bumper car while talking on his cell phone. With years of past state fair bumper car experience under our belts and sensing his lack of awareness, the three of us targeted him like football players at an all you can eat buffet.
He was in a serious collision trap!
A collision trap is a situation in which you are unable to create or maintain an adequate space cushion around your vehicle. Potential collision traps can exist in front of you, behind you and on both sides of you.
To help avoid potential collision traps, consider using the following strategies:
- Stay focused: Be alert to what other drivers are doing. Don’t assume that the other driver knows that you are there or that the other driver has a safe driver attitude.
- Think ahead: Always be thinking about what you can do to minimize the possibility of a collision.
- Use the 2-second rule: By using the 2-second rule, you will always have at least one safe space cushion around your vehicle.
- Always scan: Keep your eyes moving. Continually check in front, beside and behind you. Always be aware of what is going on in a full 360 degree radius around your vehicle.