Most of the information we receive when driving comes to use through sight; the vast majority of that comes through the windshield and the rest of our vehicle’s glass. Continous changes in traffic conditions (environment, relative position, orientation, speed, and direction.) require the driver to constantly adjust his vision focus to understand his surroundings and make the best driving decisions. Goog visibility and visual exploration strategy are key to increasing safety behind the wheel.
There may come situations on the road when the driver needs to give a quick reaction; that’s why they need to be attentive every time.
We will give some basic advice to avoid accidents and reduce their consequences, especially on these dates, when there will be many trips on the Pakistani roads.
The Visual Sweeps
If we only looked into the distance, we would hardly obtain information about what is happening to the vehicle’s left, right, between the hood of our car, and the point where we point our gaze. For this reason, it is necessary to carry out transverse (side to side) and longitudinal (from near to further) gaze sweeps.
Our sweep will be done in one way or another. In the city, we roll at a slower speed, so it is not necessary to look that far, and the longitudinal sweeps are reduced and shortened.
Besides, we circulate within an environment where we will have many entrances to the road from the sides, mainly pedestrians and vehicles. For this reason, more transverse sweeps must be made on both sides; and wider to detect people or objects that may cross our path.
Almost the opposite happens on motorways and expressways: we must look far away and make frequent longitudinal sweep towards our car’s hood. By making few entrances and exits, the transversal sweeps will be less frequent..
Go Exactly Where You Look
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One of the first things driving course instructors teaches is the phenomenon of aiming. For example, the car that has crossed our path and against which we are going to crash. You have to be aware of this phenomenon at the wheel and have a cool mind to direct your eyes and your vehicle towards the escape points from a dangerous situation.
Evaluate Everything Around You.
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We circulate surrounded by vehicles, people, and animals—all of them with their concerns, trajectories, and movements. Driving safely involves going with a thousand eyes, constantly looking and evaluating everything around us to detect possible threats and be aware of them. Also, analyze the environment, the asphalt if there are crossroads, exits of roads or houses, areas with a large influx of people.
And all this, without getting lost in things that divert your attention from what is important, for example, billboards.
Just take a quick gander on the billboards for what information they are giving and look back. That’s because they might give you a little bit of information on how you are going and the road’s situation.
Evaluating everything surrounding us facilitates “defensive driving,” to act in anticipation of possible mistakes or distractions from others.
Lift Your Chin Up
It was one of the tips that they gave you as a child when you were learning to ride a bike. And the best advice to be given to a novice driver. As with the bike, looking ahead and into the distance, not at what is happening in front of the hood, helps you stay on course without the need for constant steering wheels corrections.
More importantly, it allows us to anticipate everything that may happen in front of us and have the valuable reaction time to avoid an accident. If we took at what happens a few meters in front of our car, we would not realize in time. For example, the typical braking that causes retention: when we see it, we will already have it on top, and there will not be time to brake and avoid the collision due to scope.
Paradoxically, novice and inexperienced drivers do the opposite of that. They spend most of their efforts keeping the car on the road. But they do so with the wrong visual strategy. The ability to look straight ahead must be trained and requires other complementary visual exploration strategies, such as sweeps we talked about earlier.
Peripheral vision is what we can see “out of the corner of our eye” while driving. The ability to recognize and capture what is happening around the specific point or object we have fixed our vision. Our normal field of vision is about 120 degrees, and peripheral vision allows us to have a field of up to 180 degrees.
Peripheral vision allows us to perceive outside of our direct vision. From that moment, it usually takes half second to turn the head and focus on that situation, to be able to evaluate it and make a decision. Some elements can hinder our peripheral vision inside a car, such as the A, B, and C pillars. And we must also take into account that the higher the speed, the less peripheral vision.
On many occasions, we do not know if another driver has seen us and will take our presence into account before executing a maneuver that could end in a collision. Sometimes we make sure they have seen us by looking in their rearview mirrors and looking for eye contact.
To us, that quick crossing of glances will confirm that he has seen us, and he will also be aware that we know he has seen us.
In the event of an incident or breakdown, this point becomes even more crucial, and we must signal our presence on the road by all means.
See Through Other Cars
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It is not about superpowers but about knowing how to look through the vehicles’ windows that precede us. We often do it instinctively and only realize it when we cannot do it by going behind a dull car.
Looking through the other vehicle allows us to anticipate events. For example, seeing the brake lights of the car ahead of the car in front of you.
Blind Spots and Dark Areas
As much as we want to see, many objects and situations escape our vision angle for different reasons. The most common is the blind spot of the rearview mirrors, which is the area that cannot be covered by the design of the car. Motorcycles are susceptible to getting into these blind spots when driving between rows of vehicles.
Most modern vehicles offer a system that alerts us to objects in that blind spot through visual or audible alerts.
Dangers of Glare
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Either by the sun or by the lights of another vehicle at night, glare can blind you momentarily. In these situations, the first thing to do is not look directly at the light source and direct your eyes towards a reference that allows us to continue driving without leaving the lane. It is usually best to look down to the right and look for the road’s line or the shoulder’s edge.
Avoid any Dangers
During your driving sessions, you may come across someone asking for a lift. Not that I am asking you to never give a lift. Do give lifts to the needy ones. However, process every information about them in your mind, and decide whether to pick them or not. Especially in the dark and lonely places, try to avoid picking dangerous people.
Always install a working tracking system in your vehicle, it will increase the security of your car. In unfortunate turns of events, if your car gets stolen, you’ll be able to track it down easily.
The Tunnel Effect
Ever wondered why does our normal field of vision reduce with speed? At higher speeds, more information reaches the brain per second. To process it, our mind limits that information, discarding the less important information because it is further from the focus of attention and more at our visual fields’ ends.
If our field of vision is 120 degrees while standing still, moving the kinetic field of vision decreases with speed. For example, at 70 km/h, it is reduced to 70 degrees. The tunnel effect begins to appear because, with only 30 degrees of vision, it is as if there were only black walls on our sides.
- Stay Alert; By viewing the standards as guidelines, rather than strict orders. Always have the flexibility to choose the most appropriate response to an incident or event during your drive.
- It all depends on you; Always remember, it’s not just about the vehicle. Consider the environment, the type of vehicle, and the skills required for each occasion. Improve your concentration and alertness when you are behind the wheel.
- Safety is a skill; There are three types of drivers: those who cause their own accidents, those involved, and those who do not have accidents. Good drivers can crash too, but be confident in yourself.
- Control your fear: We are faced with a problem on the road. Letting yourself be carried away by fear is something instinctive. However, if we practice proper driving safety habits, they will help us overcome any challenges.
- Don’t get distracted; Stay tuned to the information around you. Don’t just listen to it or be distracted by it. Keep your eyes on the road for potential hazards that don’t take you by surprise.
- Take it easy; Driving at high speed is reserved for racing tracks. Riding at a calm and sensible pace gives you the time and the distance necessary to react to any emergency.
- Hold the steering wheel well; Most people don’t pay enough attention to driving. If a vehicle begins to lose control, the steering wheel is the first place you will notice and the best instrument to respond to the problem.
- Know your limits; If you have not attended an advanced driving course, your knowledge will always be limited. Always know the limits of your skills as a driver.
To have the best visibility, you have to wear the windshield in perfect condition. The glass must be clean and not have scratches or impacts, as both dirt and damage causes dangerous reflections. We have all experienced what it means to see through scratched or dirty glasses. When you put them on, you instantly realize how bad it looks, but if you leave them on, the brain will get used to it over time, and you will no longer be aware of vision loss.
The same thing happens with the windshield; we get used to that loss in our usual vehicle, and only when we get into another, we realize how good it looks.
Anyways, driving a vehicle requires many skills, and a person driving is at constant risk. However, be confident in yourself, and drive with full focus.