Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Driving Basics 101 - Part IV

Last week we covered the ABC's of driving in short form...here is what all of that meant and how it makes you a safer road user when applied.

The 3 Co-Operative Driving Concepts (ABC’s of Driving) Expanded
1. Awareness - Plan and Identify critical path - predict potential hazards
This is accomplished by:
(a) Scanning; Perception of time zones
Look curb to curb, use your side, and rear-view mirrors to see what is happening around you in all directions, your past can become your present and future. Never focus too long in any one spot. Your eyes should always be moving building a picture in your mind of everything around you. Your brain will alert your eyes to move back to something that needs more attention. The dominant view though, should be where you are going.
(b) 4 – 8 – 12 – 20 second eye lead
Look 4 seconds in the future (the direction you are travelling) for city driving and heavy traffic; 8 seconds for suburban driving; 12-20 seconds for highway travel all the time scanning store front to store front, curb to curb, fence line to fence line. Look through any vehicles that are in front of you…if you can’t ‘offset’. (See d for offset)
(c) 2 – 3 second following distance
Maintain this as a minimum distance to the vehicle ahead of you. In inclement weather increase this distance to 4- 5 seconds. If someone takes this space simply taking your foot off the gas pedal will quickly correct your following distance.
(d) Offset lane position; Open lane; Lane of least resistance, Curb lane when possible.
Position your vehicle slightly to the left of the vehicle ahead so you can see past it, failing that move to another lane with less traffic. If there is a lane without traffic, or less traffic in it, move there. This also comes in handy if there are large vehicles in front of you that you can’t see past or look through.
(e) Traffic controls; Scan intersection, (left centre, and right).
Prior to arriving at an intersection, while on your approach, look to the left, centre, then right to build a picture of what your are driving towards. You should know what all road traffic (motor vehicles, pedestrians, bicycles) are doing at and within your view of that intersection before you get there. You should also know what the light cycles are doing and be clear on your travel path in case a potential hazard presents itself.

2. Be Seen - Achieve visibility
This is accomplished by:
(a) Horn
This is NOT a reactionary device…it is a warning device. Use it to warn pedestrians or other vehicles that are about to interfere with your lawful movement. Use it to let others know you are there if you think that they don’t see you. If someone uses it on you, say thank you…they may have just saved you a collision…never be offended, be thankful.
(b) Offset lane position, lights, signals.
Position your vehicle slightly to the left of the vehicle ahead of you. If the person in front of you has read this and now knows to do the same, offset slightly to the right and look through their vehicle while allowing others to see you outside of the vehicle in front of you. Always have your full exterior lighting system on. Always signal in advance of a turn or lane change.
(c) Hand signals
Acknowledgements of courtesy…not the one finger kind, use the whole bouquet!! When someone lets you in a line of traffic, warns you they are there or even cut you off…wave and say thanks.

3. Create Escape Routes
This is accomplished by:
(a) 2 - 3 Second following distance
Leave plenty of space between you and the vehicle ahead of you.
(b) Check mirrors every 4 – 5 seconds
In heavy traffic or congested areas, you may want to do this more often. Highways and suburbs a little less, but always before making any turns or lane changes!! Shoulder checks (turning your head to see in your blind spot) must be done before lateral movements or turns. This is also very important before exiting your vehicle…bicycles and children can sneak up beside you.
(c) Maintain one free side
Maintain free space to the left or right of your vehicle. Don’t travel in someone’s blind spot.
(d) Keep blind spots clear
Adjust your speed to keep your own blind spot clear. If this doesn’t work, activate you turn signal…the other driver might just back off if they think you are going to come over…but don’t forget to cancel it.
(e) Cover the brake
When approaching a green light that you didn’t see turn green or has been green for some time take your foot off the gas and hover your foot over your brake pedal…be ready for the light to change to amber. Also a good practice if you think someone may turn or change lanes in front of you…you can quickly apply your brake to avoid a collision.
(f) Stationary escape route
When stopped ensure you can see the rear tires of the vehicle ahead of you. Position your vehicle slightly to the left of the car in front of you. You need to be able to see past that car.
(g) When possible, reverse into parking spaces
When you reverse in, you have the ability to drive out. You have a much better field of vision in drive than you do in reverse.

Next Week - Part V -"Your vehicle is a balancing act"
Part I
Part II
Part III

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