What’s Going on Back There?

Taking in the Big Picture

A big part of defensive driving is scanning the road. Not just looking for hazards ahead of you, but also being aware of what is going on to the sides and behind you as well. When scanning, your eyes are continuously moving from side to side, ahead and in your rear-view mirrors. Take short quick glances to take in the big picture and be aware of and regulate potentially hazardous situations before you find yourself in a predicament.

First off, you should make sure to properly adjust your seat and mirrors before you start driving. You want to make sure you have as wide a field of vision as possible to the back of your vehicle when looking into the rear-view and side-mirrors.

Second, remember these three instances where checking traffic behind you is of great importance.

  1. Backing: When backing it is best to back up as little as necessary as you are more likely to hit something because your visibility is limited. Before you back up check your mirrors and look over your shoulder as you reverse. Keep your speed as slow and safe as possible.
  2. Changing lanes: Before you begin your lane change, always look over your shoulder after checking your mirrors to confirm that there are no vehicles hiding in your blind spot. This is also good to remember as part of moving over to curbside park or preparing to make a right turn.
  3. Slowing down quickly: Stopping suddenly can put you at high risk of being rear ended by another motorist. Make sure to check your rear-view mirror when forced to brake harder than usual. This is a good reason to have a safe space cushion between you and the vehicle in front of you.

Get in the habit of utilizing your rear and side view mirrors more consistently. The greater your ability to comprehend what is going on around your car, the safer it will be for you to drive.

All Shook Up

Driver Emotion

Driver impairment is not only caused by drugs and alcohol. Our driving is impaired anytime our ability to operate a vehicle is compromised. Because emotions can govern our behavior to a large extent, they too can diminish our driving capabilities. Emotional impairment can affect our ability to recognize risks and quickly react.

Here are some helpful tips to help regulate our emotions while driving.

  • Do not take the aggressive actions of other drivers personally.
  • Cool off when angry or frustrated.
  • Don’t drive when feeling upset, frustrated, depressed or angry.
  • Don’t have emotional conversations while driving.
  • Stay focused on the driving task.
  • Turn a negative driving situation into a positive situation.
  • Demonstrate the kind of courtesy you would like to receive from others.

Safe driving requires our focus at all times. When behind the wheel, try to ‘shelve’ problems temporarily. Instead, concentrate on the driving tasks at hand. If unable to do that, then it is best to wait to drive until our emotions are under control.