Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Driving Basics 101 - Part VI

Yes, it's been a while since the last article in this driving series. So do your self a favour, review the other articles in the driving series (links at the bottom of this one), it will do us all some good to review.

Do you see what I see?

In our previous segment, we discussed being a smooth driver, and how having control of your vehicle gives your passengers a sense of comfort.
Smooth drivers, use proper applications of their inputs; steering, brake and accelerator and adjust those inputs appropriately and timely to the actions of others.
With each of those input factors, there was always some association to the use of the driver’s eyes and placement in regards to their movement and environment.
Considering those inputs, what would you regard as the single most important factor that is required to travel safely on the road?
Would your have guessed space?
If so you’re one of the smarter people.
Use of space and creating time to plan, has to be the greatest asset to safe vehicle operation hands down.

Managing Time and Space Intervals
Consider our circle of safety “the present time zone”, knowing what is 0-4 seconds around you.
Eyelead and scanning, is relative to speed, therefore, the faster we drive the further down the road we should be looking. It helps us to better use the space ahead to plan our drive.
Drivers should be continually scanning to identify where their space cushions are and how often they change; Past (behind), Present (around), Future (ahead).

Check the spaces behind you. If you are aware of your past you will have some options and time on your side to implement them.
It is also very important to pay attention to your lane position and your following distance.
A new driver should learn to keep the vehicle in the center of the driving lane and away from the edges.
While driving straight ahead you will normally stay on this driving line unless other factors affect the position of your car.

Sometimes, you will use different lane positions to make adjustments for potential problems and create more space between your car and dangerous situations; this is referred to as offsetting.

There are 3 lane positions that a driver can choose without changing lanes.
Position number 1 is in the middle of the lane and will be used for most driving situations.Positions 2 and 3 are offset placements to the left and the right when restrictions to your path or view exist; without having to move out of the lane of travel.
Advantages of offsetting are that it opens up your field of view, improves your eye lead, allows for better route planning and helps to break target fixation.

Is there enough space ahead?
You control your space; you control your following distance.
Our following distance should be 3 seconds away from a vehicle travelling directly ahead of us.
We calculate this distance by:
Picking a stationary object on the road,
As the rear of the vehicle in front of you passes this point, start counting one thousand and one, one thousand and two, one thousand and three,
When the front of your vehicle reaches that point, stop counting,
If you could not reach the count of three, you probably didn’t have a safe enough following distance.
The benefit of using this technique is that it works at any speed and eliminates our need to guess or estimate how many car lengths we may need to brake or manoeuvre.
Anytime you as the driver, are faced with a doubtful situation, you should be covering the brake.
Anytime you are not actively using the accelerator you should be covering the brake.
What is the benefit to covering the brake?
It can save 1 second of reaction time
80% of collisions could be avoided if drivers had one more second of reaction time.

Drive to your space
Not always as easy as it sounds.
A lot of drivers when turning into oncoming traffic will often stare at the traffic approaching far too long. The longer they stare, the smaller the space cushion becomes as the vehicles get closer.
The driver should be looking at the space between the vehicles, as the space cushion approaching them is travelling at the same rate as the vehicles.
Driver who can accomplish this tend to move into the space and the flow of traffic with little to no disruption to other vehicles.
Use of space is about where you look, and how long you’re looking there, that will usually dictate where you will end up.

Remember, what you see and what I see is not what we see.

Next Article Coming:
Communication-Can we talk and drive?

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V

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