Scanning – it keeps you safe!

Driving lesson - scanningThe image on the left gives you an idea of where experienced drivers look, and what they look for…

Imminent risks
This is the immediate area around the car and is especially important near schools, playgrounds, pedestrian crossings, junctions, parked vehicles, etc. New drivers, however, often pay too much attention to this area. When you pay too much attention here everything will seem to happen very fast and you will spend a lot of time avoiding things and having near misses – because you will be seeing things too late.

Usually when checking this area it will be as a result os some other information you have gained from looking further ahead, you might be checking children who you have seen playing on the path, you might have slowed down to check the hidden area behind a parked vehicle, or a hidden junction – apart form specific checks, your peripheral vision will continually monitor this near distance. (Peripheral vision, sometimes known as indirect vision, is the area outside of your direct focus, it is ‘programmed’ to detect movement.)

Middle distance
This is where you take action to deal with hazards that you have already seen. If you are unsure about how a situation might develop when there is a hazard is in this region you must slow down.

Planning distance
When you see things this far ahead you are starting to make decisions about what to do – developing your driving plan. You need to allow for ‘idiots’, decide your course and proposed speed.

Early warning
Look for brake lights, bends, junctions, etc. you can also spot road signs early to give advance warning of potential problems.

Of course, you also need to keep an eye on what is happening behind because the information about following vehicles is essential when you are making decisions about how to deal with situations ahead,

An obstacle course!
In effect, when steering the car you are simply negotiating a big obstacle course. In order to get through safely you need to look well ahead for the gaps between the obstacles!