Driving and Situational Awareness

By | 07/03/2009

How comfortable are you behind the wheel? How many hours a week do you think you spend driving? The reason I ask these questions is that I often spend fourty minutes a day on the road and as a result I tend to watch everything that’s happening around me.

That’s because car driving is about situational awareness. One of the things you’re taught about when driving is forward planning and anticipation. You look at the sides of the road and develop situation awareness. Where is that child looking. Is there a chance that ball is going to bounce in front of me. What’s behind that bend?

You’re constantly analyising what’s around you. Recently as I drive on the motorway to and from work I watch how the cars are lined up. I know how many cars are behind me, how fast they’re going and more. I also know what’s going on in front of me. As a result I change from left to right lanes in a dynamic manner. I’m constantly looking at whether I’m going to be blocked or whether someone else is.

In the morning I avoid the left lane. You see people driving just two meters from the car in front of them at over a hundred kilomters an hour. Occasionaly they come a cropper and i can’t help but laugh. It’s well deserved on the part of both parties.

I did once have a jeep chasing me down the motorway and I could pull in to let it pass. It came right up to me and I slowed down. I wanted to give myself enough stopping distance. It annoyed the driver behind me but the important thing is that I was safe. If an emergency appeared I would be able to stop safely, and I’d bought the person behind of me a little more reaction. You see what a nice guy I am?

The reason I speak about this is that in everything you do situational awareness is one of the best things to have. What are the things that can go wrong, what can I do to avoid them. Are there any tell tale signs?

It’s like living in London. You know that the tube may be delayed by ten to fifteen minutes so you make sure to compensate for that. In some cases it means catching the train before the one you need to catch, just so that you arrive on time.

If you’re like me you often arrive early. That’s not a problem. When you have a live video transmission t’s better to be half an hour early than 3 minutes late.

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