Are you being seen by other drivers?

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At most crashes one of the drivers will get out of their car and say,  “He came from nowhere” or “I didn’t see her”.
If you aim to be seen you will reduce your likelihood of being involved in an accident.
 
What can you do to be seen?
There are several things that you can do to ensure that we are seen on the road.
The primary way that you are seen is through the use of your signals and brake lights.
By making early decisions we become more predictable and therefore easier to see on the road.
In some situations, tapping the horn or flashing the headlights will help us to be seen on the road. This is actually the only correct use of the horn!
A big part of being seen is using your own vision to identify all the hidden possibilies.
You should always be questioning, is there a child walking out behind that bus? Is there a car about to run that red light?
When you identify blockages in your vision, you can slow down. If there is a car running a light, you can see them and they can see you too.
 
If you are finding it difficult to see other cars then we should be questioning if other cars can see you.
This could be due to the setting sun, rain, fog or mist on the windows.
If you are having trouble seeing other cars then you need to do everything you can to be seen – turn on headlights and slow down at high activity areas.
 
How do you know if you have been seen?
The only way to know if you have been seen is through eye contact. If you as a driver or even as a pedestrian are not looking at the other driver, you are not getting the full picture.
If you are approaching a car that is waiting to come out of a side road and all you can see is the back of their head then you need to slow down. You cannot be sure that they have seen you.
You will still need to exercise caution even with eye contact, in some situations it might look like the other driver has seen you but not.
What does an expert driver do to be seen?
At the top level a driver will adjust their position in their lane to be seen earlier by other road users. They will avoid driving in blind spots of other road users. Headlights will be on well before dark and after dawn. They will adapt a ‘horn ready’ stance in situations that have potential other road users to make late decisions. They will also give careful consideration to the colour of their vehicle and other safety features like daytime running lights.
Read more on Road Safety: Early Decisions
 
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The Safer Drivers Course is designed for learner drivers wanting to learn more about becoming a safe driver. The course will help you gain a deeper understanding about what it takes to be a safe solo driver.
Through both in-class activities and on-road coaching, the Safer Drivers Course will help you to be safe long after the driving test. The course is fun, engaging and informative.
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Making Early Decisions

early decisions
Early decisions are a key to safe driving.
If you think about the last time you were on the road,  you would certainly have seen someone making a late decision like finding themselves in the wrong lane or making an erratic move to park.
Modern technology like GPS and mobile phones have created distractions causing more drivers to fail to keep track of road signs and changes and then make late decisions.
 
What decisions are made on the road?
There are two types of decisions influenced and voluntary.
Influenced decisions are made because another driver has invaded your safety cushion, often because they have broken a road rule or done something unpredictable on the road.
Voluntary decisions are the choices you make on the road. Early decisions are voluntary.
You cannot make early decisions without good vision habits and maintaining your safety cushion.
Late decisions are caused by vision breakdowns.
 
What does an early decision do for me?
By making an early decision you are being predictable on the road.
Examples include starting to brake early or indicating well in advance. By giving other road users plenty of notice as to what you are doing, they will be less likely to crash into you!
 
How do I know that I am doing well?
At a top level of driving you will be planning lane choices well in advance. Local knowledge helps with this, reading road signs will give a lot of clues too.
As you see a difficult situation coming up, start to look for options like checking where all the other cars are around you, plan lane changes and assess possible escapes.
 
Read more on Road Safety: Safety Bubble
 
 
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The Safer Drivers Course is designed for learner drivers wanting to learn more about becoming a safe driver. The course will help you gain a deeper understanding about what it takes to be a safe solo driver.
Through both in-class activities and on-road coaching, the Safer Drivers Course will help you to be safe long after the driving test. The course is fun, engaging and informative.
saferdriverscourse_infog

The Safety Cushion

(and the three-second gap)

Have you ever considered why so many people crash into each other?
The majority of crashes happen because the driver does not have enough space around them.
The space around the car is what Trent driver trainers call the Safety Cushion.
By maintaining space around your car you will allow time to react, manoeuvre and stop if required. You need to guard this space!
 
How do you know if you have enough space around your car?
Ideally, you need 2 metres between you and parked cars and about 1 metre between an oncoming vehicle.
On narrow roads, this might be difficult to maintain so you need to slow down. The basic rule is: Space reduced = Speed reduced
As space increases, you can speed up again.
Early learner drivers naturally slow down because they feel the need to ‘suck in’ when they go through narrow spaces. As drivers get more experienced and are more comfortable around other vehicles, they start to go faster. The problem is that every time you double your speed, your stopping distance is multiplied by 4.
Be aware of driving in the blind spots of other road users and avoid having cars right next to you. In multi-lane traffic, you need to be conscious of your safety cushion to oncoming vehicles. The right-hand lane is the head-on collision lane and should only be used when overtaking or turning right. It only takes a moment distraction by someone coming the other way for a head on collision. Don’t be there!
As safe drivers we should be thinking “Is there a person about to step out behind that van?” or  “Is someone about to pull out from the kerb in front of me?”
 
How do I protect my  Safety Cushion?

At higher speeds, you need to think about the space between you and the vehicles in front, behind and to the sides. This is where the  3-SECOND GAP applies.

Drivers should always maintain a 3-second gap to the vehicle in front.

To calculate a 3-second gap,  watch as the car in front goes past a stationary object and start counting: 1001, 1002, 1003. If you pass the object before saying 1003, you are too close.

Often the vehicle behind will not maintain a 3-second gap to your vehicle (if they are really aggressive, just get out of their way).

The 3-second gap works at all speeds

 
How do I know if I am good at applying the safety cushion?
When you have mastered the safety cushion you will:

  • Find yourself adjusting your position inside your lane to maximise your safety cushion where ever required.
  • Always have a 3-second gap or greater.
  • You will actively avoid driving next to other vehicles and get out of the way of aggressive drivers.
  • You will feel uncomfortable in the head on collision lane.

If this is you then great work! You are much more likely to be safe on our roads.

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The Safer Drivers Course is designed for learner drivers wanting to learn more about becoming a safe driver. The course will help you gain a better understanding about what it takes to be a safe solo driver. Through both in-class activities and on-road coaching, the Safer Drivers Course will help you to be safe long after the driving test. The course is fun, engaging and informative. saferdriverscourse_infog

Road Safety: Vision

June is road safety month at Trent Driving School and over the next few weeks we will be examining some of the key ways to be safe out on the roads.
Everything we do at Trent is to help learners stay safe on our roads and it fills us with pride when we receive feedback from our students saying that our training saved them.
Core to our safety is our safety wheel, if you follow these simple rules then you cannot have a crash. We will be discussing these rules during June.
angle park
Vision
I have trained learners that are missing arms or legs. I have trained deaf learners but I have never trained a blind person.
Vision is critical to staying safe on the roads. During most crashes, one of the drivers gets out of the car and says ‘I didn’t see you’. While this is probably true there are things we can do to make sure that we see everything out there on the roads.
How do our eyes work?
Our eyes are hemispherical, we can see 180º in front of us. Our vision is broken down into central vision and peripheral vision. Our central vision is what we read with, it is a tiny area of focus. All the blurry vision outside of your central vision is called peripheral vision. Peripheral vision has a much faster response time than central and is our attention getter for our central vision. If we see something move in our peripheral vision we instantly shift our central vision to focus on it. This is a danger response that is built into our physiology.
Where should we be looking?
When we are walking we look about 40-50m ahead, this is fine while we are going ~6kph. When we are driving we will be going 10 times the speed. We need to be looking 400-500m ahead at 60kph and if we are getting out on the freeway at 110kph we need to be looking about 1km down the road.
In addition to looking all the way down the road we need to keep an eye on everything on and off the road in front of us and behind.
A good driver will be checking the mirrors every 10 seconds or more and be fully aware of all traffic sharing the road and also any potential danger around the road. Their eyes will always be on the move.
One of the things that learners, and many experienced drivers, forget to look at are road signs. As a learner most of your focus will be on the controls and keeping an eye out for other road users, in my experience it takes a learner 80-90 hours of experience before they are able to include road signs into their driving. Before a learner can be safe on the road they need to be able to see and follow all road signs.
In the modern day of GPS navigation many drivers are going ‘blind’ when it comes to road signs. I don’t want anyone reading this to be the person that drives into a lake ‘because the navigation said to”.
What do we do when we see something?
As we gain experience on the road and develop our vision habits we will be able to identify many hazards on the road. In most situations we will need to slow down and maintain a safety cushion (tune in next week for details!)
Read More: FAILING THE DRIVING TEST: MAIN CAUSE

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The Safer Drivers Course is designed for learner drivers wanting to learn more about becoming a safe driver. The course will help you gain a deeper understanding about what it takes to be a safe solo driver.
Through both in-class activities and on-road coaching, the Safer Drivers Course will help you to be safe long after the driving test. The course is fun, engaging and informative.

saferdriverscourse_infog