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We Teach Driving Like Your Life Depends On It

The eyes have it for safety on the road

August 16, 2016

By Steve Wallace
Times Colonist, August 12th 2016

Convex mirrors greatly expand the driver’s field of view and can reduce neck-twisting, especially for senior drivers.

Where you look has a lot to do with how good or bad a driver you have become.
Looking where you’re going is obviously the most important task of any driver.

It’s best to look at the centre of the lane, well ahead, to maintain a proper, slight-right lane position.
Professional drivers use the standard intermittent viewing sequence.
They look ahead, then at the rear-view mirror, ahead and the speedometer, ahead and then to each side.The closest side of the road should be viewed first, then the alternate side.

This sequence should be done before and after each road feature such as an intersection, hill, curve and overpass on the regular highway drive.
Looking for an escape in the event of a head-on-crash threat is also important, since this type of crash is the most deadly.
The second most deadly crash is the T-bone intersection collision.
Looking left, right, and left again is the accepted checking pattern, although it’s different at one-way-street intersections.
Look to the most immediate threat side first at such a street, then to the opposite side and back to the direction of approaching lateral traffic.Many non-professional drivers do not look effectively when turning at intersections.
They often forget to check the blind spot over the shoulder in the direction of the turn.
In fact, some very poor drivers actually think they can see this over-the-shoulder space by looking in their side-view mirrors.

It’s impossible to see the blind area over each shoulder using only standard vehicle side mirrors.
Most professional drivers have convex mirrors, which greatly reduce the necessary head rotation prior to a turn, lane change or leaving or parking at the curb.Every driver, seniors in particular, should have these same convex mirrors, since neck flexibility is much reduced with age.
It’s not just about where drivers should be looking.
Even more important is what they should be looking for.
Pedestrians, cyclists, scooter riders, skateboarders and motorcyclists are all factors in our transportation system.
The damage a motor vehicle can do to pedestrians and users of such modes of transportation is catastrophic.

Looking for them is a priority, because of this extreme damage potential.
See everything, look at nothing. That’s how driving professionals prioritize the threats around them.
It allows a driver to key on movement, as opposed to being distracted by something that is important, while missing something that is critical.
A common mistake made by many drivers is to look at the traffic light while going through an intersection, instead of looking for side-impact crash potential.

The traffic light is important, but not critical. No one has been killed in recent memory by a falling traffic light.
Many drivers stare at these lights when they should be looking at the critical crash potential around them, as opposed to above them.

They should be looking for those who are vulnerable to serious injury, such as pedestrians and others mentioned above.
Making eye contact with others is a valuable communication technique.

Doing a 360-degree check before entering or leaving a vehicle is a good idea.
Eye movement should be made at least every two seconds.
Look well ahead when driving and track back to your vehicle.
Drive with spaces around your vehicle.

Make sure others see you. Always drive with your headlights and taillights illuminated.
This will make your vehicle seem closer to those who are looking at you. It will discourage tailgaters.
See and be seen.

Steve Wallace is the owner of Wallace Driving School on Vancouver Island.

He is a former vice-president of the Driving Schools Association of the Americas, a registered B.C. teacher and a University of Manitoba graduate.

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