Knowing how to look well when driving is vital to gain safety. You have to learn to look well, far away but controlling what happens next to you and looking for an escape route in case of emergency. We have to take into account that 90% of the information we receive when driving comes through sight.
Here we present ten very good tips, which we complete with some comments.
1. Look into the distance
This advice you have probably heard many times, because it is one of the most important. Looking ahead and into the distance and not at what is happening just in front of our hood , helps to maintain the trajectory with fewer corrections on the steering wheel. More importantly, it allows us to anticipate everything that may happen in front of us and have valuable reaction time to avoid an accident.
In wide curves, on the highway, for example, you have to keep looking for the farthest point that you can see from the road to be aware of traffic jams, stationary vehicles, construction sites or any unforeseen event.
2. The visual sweeps
This advice from Carglass is common sense, but it’s worth reading to think about it. If we only look into the distance, we will barely obtain information about what is happening on each side of the vehicle, and in the space between our car and the point where we point our gaze. For this reason, it is necessary to perform transverse (side to side) and longitudinal (from near to further) gaze sweeps .
Depending on the way we are, our sweep will be done in one way or another. In the city we roll at a lower speed, so it is not necessary to look that far and the longitudinal sweeps are reduced and shortened. In addition, we circulate within an environment with a lot to look at the sides, mainly pedestrians, vehicles, but also traffic lights, signs on the ground, curbs, motorcycles … For this reason, we have to make more transversal sweeps on both sides; and wider.
On motorways and expressways, the opposite happens: we must look far away and make frequent longitudinal sweeps towards the hood of our car. Cross sweeps will be less frequent. On conventional roads, with more entrances and exits, it will be more necessary to look left and right with relative frequency, which will force us to adapt our speed .
3. Peripheral vision
Peripheral vision is what we are able to see “out of the corner of our eye” while driving, that is, the ability to capture and recognize what is happening around the object or specific point on which we have fixed our vision. Our normal field of vision is about 120º and peripheral vision allows us to have a field of up to 180º. It is a skill that can also be trained.
Peripheral vision allows us to perceive that “something is happening” outside of our direct vision. From that moment it usually takes 0.5 seconds to turn the head and focus on that situation, to be able to evaluate it and make a decision. Inside a car there are elements that can obstruct our peripheral vision, such as the roof pillars. And you also have to take into account that the higher the speed, the less peripheral vision .
4. The “tunnel effect”
Our field of vision narrows with speed. At higher speeds, more information reaches the brain per second. In order to process it, our mind limits that information , discarding the less important information because it is further from the focus of attention.
If while standing still our field of vision is 120º, when moving, the so-called kinetic field of vision decreases with speed. It is estimated that at 65 km / h it is reduced to 70 degrees, while at 100 km / h the field of view drops to only 42 °. From 130 km / h, the tunnel effect begins to seem, because with only 30º of vision it is as if there were only black walls on our sides. For this reason, the visual sweeps that we discussed in the second point are very important.
5. When faced with danger, look for the escape hole
One of the first things driving course instructors teach is the phenomenon of “aiming”: in times of stress we instinctively tend to steer our vehicle towards where we are aiming. Put another way: we cannot steer the vehicle where we are not looking . For example, if we have a landslide and the car ends up pointing at a tree, if we stare at the tree we will not be able to steer the car to avoid it. Another example, if a car has crossed our path and we are looking at it, we will not be able to avoid it to avoid the crash. At the wheel you have to be aware of this phenomenon, and have a cool mind to direct your eyes, and your vehicle, towards the escape points from a dangerous situation.
6. Evaluate everything around us
We circulate surrounded by vehicles, people, animals … all of them with their trajectories, concerns and movements. Driving safely implies “going with a thousand eyes”, constantly looking and evaluating everything around us to detect possible threats and be aware of them. We must learn to anticipate what other drivers and road users around us are going to do so that they do not surprise us when they change lanes or brake.
Also analyze the environment, the grip of the asphalt (dirty, wet, potholes …), if there are crossroads, exits of roads or houses, areas with a large influx of people … And all this, without getting lost in things that divert our attention from what important.
7. Know what others have seen
On many occasions we do not know if another driver has seen us and will take our presence into account before executing a maneuver that could end in a collision. Sometimes we can make sure they have seen us by looking in their rear view mirrors and looking for eye contact. This action is very important for motorcyclists. That quick crossing of glances will confirm that he has seen us ; and he will also be aware that we know he has seen us. On the road, feel free to give your headlights a short burst to ensure eye contact before overtaking, for example.
8. See through other cars
It is not about super powers, but about knowing how to look through the windows of the vehicles that precede us. Many times we do it instinctively and we only realize it when we cannot do it by going behind a dull van.
Looking through other vehicles allows us to anticipate events, for example, seeing the brake lights of the car that is two ahead of us. The raised, centered third brake light was created just to be seen through car glass.
9. Blind spots
There are objects and situations that, as much as we want to see them, escape our angle of vision for different reasons. The most common is the so-called “blind spot” of the rear view mirrors, which is the area that cannot be covered by the design of the car itself. Motorcycles are especially sensitive to getting into these blind spots when driving between rows of vehicles. The advice of Auto10 here is to open the field of vision of the mirrors to the maximum until you can almost no longer see the body of the vehicle – just looking at the rear lever in the corner of the mirror is enough – it is also important to look well or look twice at least before changing lanes, in case there is a vehicle coming out of the blind spot. Many modern cars offer – as standard or as an option – a system that alerts us to the presence of objects in that blind spot, through visual or audible alerts.
10. The annoying glare
Either by the sun, or by the lights of another vehicle at night; a glare can blind us momentarily and be very dangerous. In these situations, the first thing to do is stop looking directly at the light source , and direct our eyes towards a reference point that allows us to continue driving without leaving the lane. It is usually best to look down to the right, and look for the line of the road or the edge of the shoulder. Polarized sunglasses will help us avoid some glare during the day.
One last tip: take care of the windows in your car
Of course we should bring along the windshield in perfect condition. The glass must be clean and not have scratches or impacts, as both dirt and damage cause dangerous reflections. On trips it is very useful to clean the windshield at each stop to remove mosquitoes and dirt.