Of our five senses, we primarily rely on the sense of sight for our driving. While all drivers have this sense, some “see” the road and traffic situation far better than others. Why do some drivers possess a superior road awareness while others don’t? Because they are using several if not all of these tips:
A number of factors go into your alertness when driving. First, you must have an alert mind. This requires getting at least 7 hours of sleep every night. You must not drive under the influence of alcohol, over-the-counter drugs, or prescription drugs that cause drowsiness.
You must also focus your mind exclusively on your driving. A sober and well rested driver who is distracted, is as dangerous to others on the road as a drunk or drowsy driver. A focused driver must keep her eyes on the road, her mind on the driving, and both hands on the steering wheel.
Look Twice at Intersections
The slogan, “look twice for motorcycles,” also applies to pedestrians. Too often, motorists only focus on cars and trucks because they constitute the majority of vehicles on the road, and are perceived as direct physical threats. Another car, or a big semi-truck is going to do more damage than a pedestrian or motorcycle. Of course, this assessment occurs at the subconscious level. When traffic is heavy, smaller objects on the road get less attention. That’s why you should look twice at intersections. The second look is specifically for motorcycles and pedestrians.
Scan the Road
Our focused field of view is only a few degrees wide. Beyond this, objects appear out of focus. A fixed stare creates tunnel vision and makes you more prone to road hypnosis. Expanding your road awareness beyond a few degrees requires constant scanning. This includes scanning across lanes on multilane highways, and scanning farther down the road. Your awareness must extend beyond the few vehicles immediately in front. This prevents sudden traffic slowdowns from taking you by surprise. In addition, you should occasionally glance at your rear and side mirrors.
Protect Against Glare
Dirty windshields scatter light and produce sunlight glare during the day, and headlight glare at night. Tinted or polarized sunglasses reduce day time glare but should never be worn at night. If you wear prescription glasses, consider getting anti-reflective (AR) coatings on them. These prevent halo and star burst glare patterns during night driving. They also prevent light reflections off the inside lens surface of the glasses.