Street Survival - Advanced Defensive Driving

THINKING > AWARENESS > ASSUMPTIONS

Assumptions

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One of the biggest mistakes we can be misled by on the streets is to make assumptions, and which contravenes the first Golden Rule of 'Never Assume Anything.'

A simple example is to assume that a vehicle will turn when its indicator or turning signal is on.

We examine in more detail these common areas where wrong assumptions are made, as explained in the related video:

  • Clear to go.

  • Following others.

  • Surrounding movement of vehicles.

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Thinking Awareness Assumptions

☠️ Dangers of making assumptions when driving

Assumptions while driving can be dangerous as they can lead to errors in judgment and increase the risk of accidents. Here are some key dangers associated with making assumptions while driving:

  • Misjudging distances: If you assume that the vehicle in front of you is traveling at a certain speed or is going to turn, you may misjudge the distance between your vehicle and the other vehicle. This can lead to rear-end collisions, side-swipe accidents, or other types of collisions.

  • Failure to anticipate actions: If you assume that a pedestrian, cyclist, or another driver is going to execute a certain action, you may fail to anticipate unexpected actions. For example, if you assume that a pedestrian is going to cross the street at a crosswalk, you may not be prepared if they suddenly dart out into traffic.

  • Ignoring traffic signals and signs: If you assume that there are no other vehicles or pedestrians around, you may ignore traffic signals or signs, such as stop signs, red lights, or yield signs. This can lead to accidents and violations of traffic laws.

  • Overconfidence: If you assume that you are a skilled driver and can handle any situation, you may become overconfident and take unnecessary risks, such as speeding or making sudden lane changes.

  • Incorrect Predictions: Making assumptions about the intentions or actions of other drivers can lead to incorrect predictions. For example, assuming that a driver will yield the right-of-way when they don't or assuming that a pedestrian will wait for a vehicle to pass can result in dangerous situations and potential collisions.

  • Lack of Attention: Making assumptions can cause drivers to become complacent and less attentive to their surroundings. When drivers assume that the road conditions or traffic patterns will remain consistent, they may neglect to scan for potential hazards or changes in the environment, increasing the risk of accidents.

  • Failure to Anticipate: Assumptions can prevent drivers from adequately anticipating potential risks or hazards. By assuming that the road ahead is clear or that other drivers will follow the rules, drivers may fail to prepare for sudden lane changes, unexpected obstacles, or other hazardous situations.

  • Misinterpretation of Signals: Relying solely on assumptions about other drivers' signals or actions can be risky. Drivers may misinterpret a turn signal, assume it means a particular action, and act accordingly without confirming the actual intent of the other driver. This can lead to collisions or near-misses.

  • Ignoring Vulnerable Road Users: Assumptions can be particularly dangerous when it comes to vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians and cyclists. Assuming that pedestrians will always use designated crosswalks or that cyclists will stay in designated bike lanes can result in accidents and injuries. It's important to remain vigilant and not assume the actions of these road users.

  • Complacency in Familiar Environments: Making assumptions in familiar driving environments can lead to complacency and decreased situational awareness. Assuming that familiar roads will remain the same can be risky, as road conditions can change, construction work may be in progress, or other unexpected events may occur.

To mitigate the dangers of assumptions while driving, it's essential to prioritize defensive driving principles. This includes being alert, observing the road and other drivers attentively, avoiding distractions, following traffic laws, and not relying solely on assumptions. By maintaining a cautious and proactive approach, drivers can better anticipate and respond to changing situations on the road, promoting safer driving practices.

What are the common wrong assumptions a driver makes?

Drivers often make assumptions while on the road, some of which can be incorrect and lead to unsafe driving practices. Here are some common wrong assumptions drivers may make:

  • Assuming Other Drivers' Intentions: One of the most significant assumptions drivers make is assuming they know what other drivers intend to do. This can lead to misjudging other drivers' actions and result in accidents.

  • Overestimating Their Abilities: Many drivers overestimate their driving skills and believe they can handle risky maneuvers or adverse conditions better than they actually can. This overconfidence can lead to reckless driving behavior.

  • Underestimating Distances and Speeds: Drivers often underestimate the speed of oncoming vehicles or misjudge the distance needed to safely merge or make a turn. This can result in unsafe maneuvers and collisions.

  • Ignoring Blind Spots: Some drivers assume that if they can't see other vehicles in their mirrors, those vehicles must not be there. Ignoring blind spots can lead to dangerous lane changes and sideswiping accidents.

  • Failing to Anticipate Hazards: Drivers may assume that the road ahead is clear and fail to anticipate potential hazards such as pedestrians, cyclists, debris, or animals crossing the road. This lack of awareness can lead to accidents.

  • Misjudging Stopping Distances: Drivers often underestimate the distance required to come to a complete stop, especially in adverse weather conditions or at high speeds. This can result in rear-end collisions or running red lights.

  • Assuming Their Vehicle's Abilities: Some drivers assume that their vehicle can handle any road condition or maneuver, regardless of its limitations. This can lead to overestimating the vehicle's capabilities and engaging in risky driving behavior.

  • Disregarding Weather Conditions: Drivers may assume that their driving skills are sufficient to handle adverse weather conditions such as rain, snow, or fog. This can lead to accidents due to reduced visibility and traction.

  • Ignoring Traffic Laws: Some drivers assume that they can bend or break traffic laws without consequences, such as speeding, running stop signs, or tailgating. This disregard for traffic laws can lead to accidents and legal consequences.

  • Underestimating Fatigue or Distraction: Drivers may assume that they can drive safely even when fatigued or distracted by activities such as texting or talking on the phone. This can impair their ability to react to hazards and increase the risk of accidents.

By recognizing these common wrong assumptions, drivers can take steps to become more aware of their surroundings, adhere to traffic laws, and adopt safer driving practices on the road.

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Street Survival - Advanced Defensive Driving