Scanning and Adaption to Surroundings
It’s common sense to pay attention to your surroundings when you’re driving thousands of pounds of heavy machinery on wheels, right? Especially when you know that you’re not the ONLY one that is capable of causing massive amounts of damage or harm. Scanning is a very important skill that keeps you aware of the ever-changing road conditions. According to experts from the University of Texas, you should be checking all of your mirrors every five seconds (UT Dallas Police Department, n.d). While this sounds like a shocking number, constant scanning is critical for defensive drivers.
- Check your mirrors every 5 seconds
- Scan your intended driving path 10-12 seconds ahead
- Check your mirrors when you slow down and while you’re stopped
- Before you change lanes, check your blind spots
Shockingly, 40.6% of accidents attributed to the driver are due to some sort of recognition error (NHTSA, 2008). Recognition error occurs when drivers are inattentive, distracted or simply don’t properly survey their surroundings.
Using Your Scanning Skills
When you develop your scanning skills, you increase the time you have to respond to various road situations. When you scan ahead 10-12 seconds, you will notice immediately when a light turns from green to yellow. With this time, you will be able to slow down at a safe speed to stop behind the white line at the intersection. Similarly, if you see cars ahead of you with their brake lights lit, you will be able to adjust your speed to match the traffic conditions.
“National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey“. NHTSA. 2008.