One of the most important skills a driver can develop for themselves and their learner drivers is awareness. When we are tired, distracted or emotional (both happy and sad) our awareness levels decrease and this leaves us vulnerable to an accident.
Ask any driver and they will agree it takes spilt seconds for a situation to develop into a potential accident. At most accident scenes the driver will say “I didn’t see it happening”, if we had developed awareness skills we may see it happening and avoid it.
So what is awareness and how can we develop it in ourselves and our learner drivers?
Awareness is the ability to monitor yourself (self awareness) and to gain knowledge of the situation.
As a driver it is important to monitor and become aware of how we feel; what is effecting us and how this can alter your driving abilities. By reflecting internally we can also draw upon many life skills we have learnt along the way and put these into our driving experience.
For many drivers the process of externalising their experience can help create negative situations in driving. Another driver cutting you off in the lane or someone pulling out from the kerb, pedestrians walking in front of you, these are all negative situations. An aware driver will not externalise these things by blaming the other person, instead look at what they could do to avoid the situation and realise that everyone can have a bad moment, after all we are all human – we make mistakes. A heightened awareness would allow the driver to respond to these situations – slowing and avoiding a collision or seeing the potential danger well before it occurs. Instead some drivers externalise and blame the other party, flaming the situation into a dangerous one.
Of course the other part of driver awareness is knowledge. A driver may believe they are right and their belief is the correct one, we all have our opinions, especially when it comes to road rules. However, road rules change, they get amended and new technology gets introduced that can alter the rules. If we do not keep up to date with these changes our beliefs and opinions just may be wrong. To be aware is to be informed; this information is readily available from the RMS website or www.highlandsdrivesafe.com.
Next time, don’t get angry at the driver who may have made a mistake or used poor judgement and pulled out of the kerb in front of you without performing a head check, ask yourself, could I have been more aware that it was possible and could I have slowed the vehicle to accommodate that person’s error? There is no place for anger on our roads, it solves nothing, yet we see angry driver’s everyday. Ask yourself, once you have gone past the driver that has annoyed you to this state, how good are your driving skills and awareness, how will this affect your ability to drive and will you make a mistake that will annoy another driver – becoming the very thing that angered you.
Be aware and stay safe.