When it comes to driving, hazard perception is critical. You need to be able to tell precisely how events are going to unfold on the road so that you can avoid disaster.
Most countries require you to pass a hazard perception test before you take your practical, which is sensible. But a computer simulation is never the real thing. Plus, when you’re taking a hazard perception test, you’re ready to respond. Real-world driving is very different.
So what can you do to develop better hazard perception? Let’s take a look.
Become More Mindful Of Road Signs
If you’ve been driving for a few years, road signage can sometimes blend into the background. It just looks like a part of the furniture.
Being mindful of road signs, however, is critical. Why? Because they provide information you need to adhere to the rules of the road. Ignoring a give-way sign, for instance, could land you in an accident.
Pay Attention To Conditions
Here’s another thing you can do to improve your overall hazard perception: beware of adverse weather conditions. Snow, ice, wind, and rain can all increase the likelihood of an accident tremendously. In these situations, you need to have your wits about you, ready to respond.
Note The Types Of Road Users
Drivers like to believe that the roads are solely for their benefit. But that’s not true. There are other road users that you need to accommodate. These include cyclists, motorcyclists, buses, large vehicles, and pedestrians, including children. Each of these groups presents specific risks. So taking a mental note of your surroundings can help you drive more defensively.
Remember, it’s not just other drivers who can hire tough car accident attorneys. It’s pedestrians as well. So you always need to be mindful about who is using the road and what they are likely to do next.
Look Ahead For Hazards
When driving, keep your gaze as far in front of you as you can. Don’t just focus on the road immediately ahead. The further you can look down the road, the more you can react to situations and obstructions.
Also, try to think smartly about situations you can see. If, for instance, you notice an aggressive driver driving erratically, don’t just focus on them. Look to see if they are impacting the way that other drivers are behaving.
If possible, use elevation to your advantage to look around blind bends before you arrive at them. This way, you can see whether someone is coming from the other side.
Ignore Distracting Things Outside Of Your Car
Advertisers love plastering their marketing all over roadside billboards, designed to grab your attention. But, mostly, the information they provide is irrelevant. Where possible, keep your eyes focused firmly on the road. Don’t allow advertising to distract you from the tasks of driving safely to your destination.
In summary, improving your hazard perception is possible, but it takes practice. The best approach is to make it a habit. The more you consciously pay attention to habits, the more your unconscious mind gets used to it, to the point where it will do it automatically for you.
Remember Your Parking Matters Too
Keep safety in mind when you park. That means your safety as well as your car’s. In particular, think about what would happen if you had to return to your parking spot in the dark (or in poor weather). Would you still feel comfortable about the local area?
Then when you do leave your car, stay alert on your way to (and from) your destination. Learn how to avoid trouble on the street. It’s much safer than having to figure a way out of it. In particular, try to memorize any unfamiliar route before you walk it. If you do get lost, stay calm and find somewhere safe to check a map and/or make a call.