Observing in the right direction at the right time will greatly reduce your risk of being involved in an accident; if you are unaware of your surroundings then you will be left to make blind decisions. Below are a few useful tips on observation that you can implement to improve your road safety.
Look Behind Before Reducing Speed
Although you may not be legally responsible when hit from behind, checking your rear-view mirror before slamming on brakes will help prevent accidents that may result in a severe whiplash or worse. The taxi behind you may have faulty brakes or the driver may be asleep and observing will afford you the opportunity to evade a collision. In certain situations however, there may be no time for hesitation.
Handling Cyclists: Left Blind Spot Observation
A common mistake that even very experienced drivers make is neglecting to check their left blind spot before turning left, cutting off and endangering cyclists that happen to be cycling at the rear left of the vehicle. It is easy for a cyclist to be lost in the blind spot due to their relative size, and hence this observation is critical. As a driver you are protected by the metal body of your vehicle, whereas cyclists take the full impact of a collision with their body of flesh and bones.
Handling Motorbikes: Overtaking
As with cyclists, bikers are very easily lost in the blind spot. Before overtaking another vehicle, it is incredibly important to check your right blind spot because a biker may be passing, hidden from your mirrors’ view. Check your rear-view mirror and right blind spot before signalling your intention and check both again to ensure that it is safe to overtake.
Observing to the Right and Left: Be Ready for the Worst
Expect a kid to jump into the road when you’re in a residential area and be ready to handle the situation. Observing right and left will help you predict an obstacle before it enters the road.
It is also important to observe right and left when approaching side streets and keep a safe distance from them if possible. A common habit of drivers is to creep over the line in an attempt to gain a better view of the road they are passing into. Once over the line, it is difficult for the other vehicle to reverse out of your way, so approach with caution and be prepared to take evasive action/stop.
Ensure that you observe both sides before entering an intersection. Although a green robot gives you right of way, there is no guarantee of safety.
Eyes on the Road Ahead
By improving on our habits of observation and hence driving with “eyes wide open”, a future where roads are safer and careless accidents are few, will be possible. It all starts with a glance of the eye in the right direction.
This is a guest post by AA Driving Academy, a defensive driving school in Cape Town.