How to stay sharp behind the wheel
By Steve Wallace
Times Colonist, January 6 2017
Every driver, at some point, has had trouble recalling portions of a familiar daily trip behind the wheel.
It is not a situation that involved a total lack of concentration but more likely there was nothing of note which required undivided attention.
The mind tends to wander in these situations.
Most driving-school vehicles are equipped with an eye mirror focused on the driving student’s eyes.
The instructor is able to determine how often the student is moving their eyes and whether they arelooking in the proper fashion, to identify hazards.
Driving examiners all use an eye mirror when conducting a road test.
It truly is a mirror to the mind and intent of a new driver.
Younger drivers generally have a shorter attention span than experienced drivers.
Here are some techniques designed to keep every driver engaged and concentrating on the driving task during the daily commute or highway road trip.
The most common collision is the rear-end crash. Drivers should look ahead to centre the vehicle in the travelled lane, and next check the rear-view mirror.
Checking ahead, and then the speedometer, is the next step in the professional driver sequence.
The third step involves looking ahead and checking both sides of the road, the right side first and then the left.
This pattern of checking for hazards is to be done according to the road characteristics rather than at certain time intervals.
The above system of checks should be made before and after every highway curve, hill, intersection, overpass, tunnel and any other noteworthy hazardous location of a road trip.
By repeating this sequence in this fashion, drivers will be always engaged and come to appreciate imminent danger, should it occur.
When driving in the city, the sequence of checks remains similar but not entirely the same.
Checking ahead and the rear-view mirror when braking to a stop or slowing in traffic is the first step in crash avoidance.
Checking every intersection is a must. But how a driver does it makes a world of difference.
The left-right-left intersection check we were all taught in driving school is not always the best way to approach all intersections.
When there is not a good view in both directions or the view is wide open, the left-right-left action works well.
On the other hand, when one side of the intersection is hidden, whether left or right, it is best to look to the hidden side of the intersecting road last.
Checking tough-easy-tough is the best viewing pattern to employ.
Looking to the hidden side first and last in this sequence of checks will allow a driver to concentrate on the direction that offers the greatest danger potential.
When travelling through an intersection, it is best to do it with blockers on each side of your vehicle on a multi-lane road.
Never be the one to pull away first at a busy intersection when the light turns green.
It is better to let the accompanying side traffic run interference.
Aside from the head-on crash, the T-bone intersection crash is the most deadly.
Secondary side impact seldom yields serious injury to driver or passenger.
Looking for the open lane for escape potential is always better than slamming on the brakes and hoping the following driver has time to react and stop safely.
All drivers can better concentrate on the driving task when they have a very well-defined manner and sequence of behaviour behind the wheel.
Giving a driver something to do will guard against the tendency to daydream while commuting.
Look well ahead, keep your eyes moving. See everything, look at nothing.
Use the basic sequence and feel much safer.