Street Survival - Advanced Defensive Driving



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The goal of this section is to help us to widen our field of vision.

This refers to where there is no physical limitation of our vision, but rather our mental awareness whereby we are not cognizant of conditions at a distance from us. We only focus on what is happening close to us.

It is vital that we be aware of what is happening, not only in proximity to us, but also much further from us. This in turn will extend our safety bubble.

💡 Tips:

Thinking Awareness Vision

💡 Tips for improving vision

  • Look out for signs indicating any activity that could affect the behavior of traffic. E.g., brake lights a few cars ahead of you.

  • Is there perhaps a cloud ahead indicating tire smoke from a vehicle sliding or dust from a car that has been forced onto the shoulder of the road?

  • What speed is a vehicle in the distance behind you approaching, so that you can estimate when it gets close to you, in case you need to swerve into its path?

  • Is there an oncoming truck in the distance that will cause cars behind it to want to overtake?

  • Contact me to let me know of other examples that I can add to this list.

💡 Factors helping to predict conditions that we cannot see while driving

While driving, there are several factors that can help predict conditions that are not immediately visible. These factors rely on experience, knowledge, and the use of available information. Here are some factors that can assist in predicting unseen driving conditions:

  • Weather Reports and Forecasts: Checking weather reports and forecasts before embarking on a journey can provide valuable information about upcoming weather conditions. Knowing if there are chances of rain, snow, fog, or strong winds can help anticipate potential hazards and adjust driving behavior accordingly.

  • Road Signs and Markings: Paying attention to road signs and markings can provide clues about upcoming road conditions. Signs indicating sharp turns, steep gradients, or slippery surfaces ahead can help drivers anticipate and adjust their speed and maneuvering.

  • Traffic Reports: Monitoring traffic reports through radio, GPS navigation systems, or mobile apps can give insights into traffic congestion, accidents, or road closures. This information can help drivers plan alternative routes and avoid potential delays or hazards.

  • Vehicle Behavior and Sounds: Being attentive to any changes in vehicle behavior or unusual sounds can help predict mechanical issues or malfunctions. Recognizing signs like engine overheating, strange noises, or difficulty in steering can prompt drivers to take preventive action or seek assistance before a breakdown occurs.

  • Observing Other Drivers: Paying attention to the behavior of other drivers on the road can offer valuable insights. If nearby drivers are braking suddenly or making evasive maneuvers, it could indicate an unexpected obstacle or hazard ahead.

  • Road Characteristics: Familiarity with the road and its characteristics can aid in predicting unseen conditions. For example, knowing that a certain road tends to flood during heavy rainfall or that a particular stretch is prone to black ice in cold weather allows drivers to exercise caution and adjust their driving accordingly.

  • Spatial Awareness: Developing good spatial awareness while driving can help anticipate potential hazards. By observing the movement of other vehicles, pedestrians, and objects in the environment, drivers can predict potential conflicts and take appropriate action in advance.

  • Defensive Driving Techniques: Employing defensive driving techniques, such as maintaining a safe following distance, scanning the road ahead, and being prepared for unexpected actions from other drivers, can enhance the ability to predict and respond to unseen conditions effectively.

It's important to note that while these factors can aid in predicting unseen conditions, drivers should always remain attentive and adaptable to changing circumstances on the road.

💡 Signs to forecast traffic behavior

While it's not always possible to accurately predict every aspect of traffic behavior, there are certain signs and cues that can provide insights into potential traffic patterns and behavior. These signs can help drivers anticipate and adjust their driving accordingly. Here are some signs that can assist in forecasting traffic behavior:

  • Traffic Flow and Density: Observing the flow and density of traffic can give indications about how drivers are behaving on the road. If traffic is moving smoothly and at a consistent speed, it suggests a predictable and cooperative driving environment. Conversely, if traffic is congested or stop-and-go, it may indicate potential delays or erratic driving behavior.

  • Turn Signals: Paying attention to the use of turn signals by other drivers can provide insights into their intended actions. When drivers indicate their intentions to turn or change lanes using their signals, it allows other drivers to anticipate their behavior and adjust their own driving accordingly.

  • Brake Lights: Monitoring brake lights can give indications of slowing or stopping vehicles ahead. If multiple vehicles ahead are applying their brakes, it suggests a potential slowdown or traffic congestion. Being aware of these brake light patterns can help drivers anticipate and react to changes in traffic speed.

  • Lane Positioning: Observing how drivers position themselves within their lanes can provide insights into their intentions. For example, if a driver is hugging the right side of their lane, it may suggest an intention to make a right turn or exit soon. Similarly, if a driver is positioned towards the center of their lane, it may indicate an intention to continue straight.

  • Traffic Signals and Signs: Paying attention to traffic signals and signs can help anticipate traffic behavior. For example, if a traffic light is about to change from green to yellow, it suggests that drivers may start braking or accelerating to beat the red light. Similarly, signs indicating speed limits, lane closures, or detours can provide cues about expected driver behavior.

  • Merge Points and Interchanges: Being aware of upcoming merge points, interchanges, or highway exits can help predict driver behavior. Drivers entering or exiting the highway may need to merge into traffic, potentially causing changes in traffic flow and speed. Being attentive to these areas can help drivers adjust their speed and lane positioning accordingly.

  • Pedestrian Crosswalks: Observing pedestrian crosswalks can help predict traffic behavior, particularly in urban areas. If pedestrians are waiting to cross or actively crossing the road, drivers should anticipate traffic slowing down or stopping to accommodate them.

It's important to remember that while these signs can provide insights into traffic behavior, they are not foolproof and can vary depending on the specific circumstances and individual driver choices. Drivers should always remain attentive, follow traffic laws, and be prepared to adjust their driving based on the immediate conditions on the road.

💡 What is driving spatial awareness?

Driving spatial awareness refers to the ability of a driver to perceive and understand their position in relation to other vehicles, objects, and the overall environment while operating a vehicle. It involves being aware of one's surroundings and accurately judging distances, speeds, and potential hazards in order to make safe and informed driving decisions.

Spatial awareness is a crucial aspect of defensive driving and contributes to overall road safety. Here are key elements of driving spatial awareness:

  • Vehicle Positioning: Spatial awareness involves understanding the position of one's own vehicle within the lane and on the road. This includes maintaining proper lane position, avoiding drifting towards the edge of the road or into adjacent lanes, and ensuring adequate space around the vehicle.

  • Distance and Following: Spatial awareness includes accurately judging the distance between one's vehicle and other vehicles ahead, behind, and beside it. It involves maintaining a safe following distance to allow for sufficient braking and reaction time. Drivers with good spatial awareness can adjust their distance based on speed, road conditions, and the actions of surrounding vehicles.

  • Object and Obstacle Recognition: Spatial awareness involves recognizing objects, obstacles, and potential hazards in the driving environment. This includes identifying parked vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists, road signs, traffic signals, and other relevant elements. By perceiving and anticipating these objects, drivers can plan and execute appropriate maneuvers.

  • Speed Control: Spatial awareness also relates to managing speed in relation to the road and traffic conditions. It involves adjusting speed based on the surrounding environment, such as sharp turns, intersections, or congested areas. By having a good sense of spatial awareness, drivers can adapt their speed to maintain control and safely navigate the road.

  • Maneuvering and Lane Changes: Spatial awareness plays a role in executing maneuvers, such as lane changes, merging, and overtaking. It involves accurately judging the available space and timing the maneuver appropriately to avoid collisions or disruptions to traffic flow.

Developing and maintaining spatial awareness while driving requires concentration, observation, and experience. It can be enhanced through driver education, training, and practice. Techniques to improve spatial awareness include scanning the environment regularly, using rearview and side mirrors effectively, and constantly assessing the position and movement of other vehicles and objects in relation to one's own vehicle.

By cultivating strong spatial awareness, drivers can better anticipate potential hazards, make informed decisions, and respond appropriately to changing road conditions, ultimately contributing to safer and more efficient driving.

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Street Survival - Advanced Defensive Driving