Street Survival - Advanced Defensive Driving

THINKING > AWARENESS > PREDICTABILITY

Predictability

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The aim of this section is twofold, firstly to try and predict the actions of others and secondly to try and make your behavior predictable to others:

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Thinking Awareness Predictability

Yourself

Apply these practical points below until it becomes ingrained into your driving skills:

  • Unless there is compelling reason to do so, do not make any sudden changes in speed or direction.

  • Always indicate well ahead of time what your intentions are and then stick to it.

  • Avoid any hesitancy, which makes your actions unpredictable to others, provided you have control over the situation.

The objective is to make it easier for other road users to know what your actions are and that there are no surprises on your part.

Others

Over time, as you apply what you have learnt in this course, you will find that you are better able to develop a 'sense' of what others are about to do.

At first, it is more of a conscious effort, however later you will find that it naturally progresses into becoming second nature.

There are telltale signs that will give clues as to what an individual is likely to do, as summarized in the sub-categories below:

  • Behavioral Factors

  • Environment

  • Path

  • Sight

Behavioral Factors

Look not only at the behavior of the driver, but try to deduce the reason behind that behavior. This means looking beyond the obvious to find out what the cause was precipitating that response.

Braking

Whenever you see brake lights, then try to be perceptive as to why the individual is braking. What is there that you cannot see?

Changing Lane

Why does a driver change lane, is it simply to get into a faster lane, to be well positioned to turn off, or is there some or other danger ahead that you cannot see.

Indicating

When a driver puts on their indicator or turning signal, then anticipate what path he or she will take and whether they will slow down and then respond accordingly.

Leaving Space

Make sure you give other road users enough space to carry out their maneuvers and not to fill a space that another driver is not expecting.

Moving

Look for the movement of vehicles well ahead of you which will give you the opportunity to predict their path and speed so as to mitigate any contact.

The lack of movement may also indicate a danger that you are not aware of.

Slow Traffic

When you come across slower traffic, be on the lookout for impatient drivers that are prepared to take risks.

Swerving

A driver who swerves is a very strong indicator that there is an imminent danger that you can be alerted to.

Environment

Aside from the driver and/or vehicle itself, the surrounding area can also give telltale signs about activities that aren't visible to you.

Cloud

A cloud of either dust or smoke particles can alert you to a danger up ahead.

Lights

The lights of a vehicle not yet visible to you, can alert you to its presence.

Reflections

Movement of a vehicle in a reflection is a good way to detect the motion of a vehicle not yet visible to you.

Shadows

The shadow of a vehicle hidden from your view can give you a very good indication of its presence, speed and path of travel.

Path

Study the path of a vehicle in order to predict its position at a certain point in time to make an informed decision on what avoidance action to take.

Sight

Where possible, try to make eye contact with another driver to determine whether they have noticed your presence or not.

Unpredictable

Despite our best efforts, there will always be those sudden and unexpected events to catch us off guard.

What is driver predictability?

Driver predictability refers to the ability to anticipate and forecast the behavior and actions of drivers on the road. It is an essential aspect of road safety and traffic management. Predictable drivers are those who follow traffic rules and regulations, adhere to common driving practices, and exhibit consistent behavior on the road. They make decisions and take actions that can be reasonably anticipated by other drivers, pedestrians, and road users, reducing the likelihood of accidents and promoting smoother traffic flow.

Predictability in driving is important for several reasons:

  • Safety: Predictable drivers are more likely to obey traffic laws, maintain appropriate speeds, signal their intentions, and follow predictable patterns of movement. This allows other road users to anticipate their actions and react accordingly, reducing the risk of collisions and improving overall road safety.

  • Efficiency: When drivers exhibit predictable behavior, it becomes easier for traffic management systems, such as traffic signals and traffic flow optimization algorithms, to anticipate and adjust to traffic patterns. This can help optimize traffic flow, reduce congestion, and improve overall transportation efficiency.

  • Communication: Predictable driving behavior facilitates communication among road users. Using turn signals, maintaining consistent speeds, and following established right-of-way rules allow drivers to convey their intentions and interact with other vehicles in a clear and predictable manner, fostering safer and more efficient traffic interactions.

  • Autonomous Vehicles: Predictability is crucial in the development and integration of autonomous vehicles into the transportation system. Autonomous vehicles rely on accurately predicting the behavior of other drivers to make safe and informed decisions. If human drivers are unpredictable, it can complicate the functioning of autonomous vehicles and pose challenges for their safe integration into mixed traffic environments.

Promoting driver predictability involves various measures, including driver education and training, enforcement of traffic laws, clear signage and road markings, and public awareness campaigns. Additionally, technological advancements, such as advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication, can play a role in enhancing predictability and improving road safety.

🛈 The importance of predictability when driving

Predictability is critical when driving because it helps to ensure the safety of all road users. Here are some reasons why predictability is essential when driving:

  • It helps to prevent accidents: When drivers behave in a predictable manner, it reduces the likelihood of accidents. This is because other road users can anticipate their actions and adjust their own driving accordingly.

  • It reduces confusion: When drivers are predictable, it reduces confusion on the road. Other drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists can more easily understand what a driver is doing and adjust their behavior accordingly.

  • It promotes traffic flow: When drivers behave in a predictable manner, it helps to promote the smooth flow of traffic. This is because other drivers can anticipate their actions and adjust their own driving accordingly, leading to a more efficient and organized traffic flow.

  • It demonstrates responsible driving: When drivers behave in a predictable manner, it demonstrates responsible driving. This can help to build trust among other road users and promote a culture of safe and responsible driving.

To be predictable when driving, it is important to obey traffic laws and signals, use turn signals when changing lanes or turning, maintain a safe following distance, and avoid sudden or erratic movements.

Additionally, it is important to remain alert and focused on the road and avoid distractions, such as mobile devices or other passengers in the car.

By being predictable when driving, we can help to ensure the safety of all road users and promote a culture of responsible driving.

🛈 How to drive predictably

Driving predictably means maintaining consistent and safe behaviors on the road, which helps other drivers anticipate your movements and reduces the likelihood of accidents. Here are some tips on how to drive predictably:

  • Obey Traffic Laws: Follow all traffic laws, including speed limits, stop signs, traffic signals, and lane markings. Adhering to these rules ensures that your actions are consistent and expected by other drivers.

  • Use Turn Signals: Signal your intentions early by using your turn signals whenever you plan to change lanes, make a turn, or merge into traffic. This allows other drivers to anticipate your movements and adjust accordingly.

  • Maintain a Safe Following Distance: Keep a safe distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you. This gives you enough time to react to sudden changes in traffic and helps prevent rear-end collisions.

  • Stay in Your Lane: Avoid unnecessary lane changes and drifting between lanes. Choose a lane that best suits your intended route and stick to it unless it is necessary to change lanes.

  • Be Predictable at Intersections: Approach intersections with caution and follow the appropriate traffic signals. Signal your turns in advance and avoid sudden stops or lane changes.

  • Adjust Your Speed Smoothly: Accelerate and decelerate gradually to maintain a smooth and consistent speed. Sudden changes in speed can catch other drivers off guard and increase the risk of collisions.

  • Check Your Blind Spots: Always check your blind spots before changing lanes or making turns. This ensures that you are aware of nearby vehicles and can avoid potential conflicts.

  • Be Predictable in Parking Lots: When navigating parking lots, drive at a slow and steady pace, yield to pedestrians, and follow designated lanes and traffic flow. Signal your intentions when parking or leaving a parking space.

  • Communicate Effectively: Use your horn, lights, and hand signals when necessary to communicate with other drivers. However, avoid excessive or unnecessary use of these signals, as it can be confusing or distracting to other road users.

  • Stay Focused: Avoid distractions such as using your phone, eating, or adjusting the radio while driving. Keep your attention on the road and remain aware of your surroundings at all times.

  • Plan Your Route: Familiarize yourself with your route before starting your journey and use navigation tools to help you navigate safely and efficiently. This can reduce the need for sudden maneuvers or last-minute decisions.

By following these tips and driving in a consistent, safe, and predictable manner, you can contribute to a safer and more harmonious driving environment for yourself and other road users.

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Street Survival - Advanced Defensive Driving