The Eyes Have It

Scanning the Road

Sometimes we take driving for granted. With each uneventful drive we make, we begin to let our guard down. We start picking up bad habits like zoning out and staring at the bumper of the car in front of us. The problem with this is driving is always potentially dangerous and a routine drive can change in the blink of an eye.

A big part to driving defensively is using your eyes. A defensive driver actively scans the road ahead, checks to the left and right and glances in their mirrors regularly. Continuous eye movement will increase your awareness and give you more time to react in a hazardous situation. In addition to watching around your car, it is also good to look farther down the road. By spotting problems early, you will have time to make necessary adjustments in advance to avoid them.

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.