Of the five senses, there’s no doubt that vision is the most important when it comes to driving. Vision is so important that it’s the only one that’s tested before a person receives a driver’s license.
But many drivers do not use their eyes most effectively when driving.
As part of Comedy Guys Defensive Driving’s push to make everyone a safer driver, we’ve prepared the following driving tips to help you to use your eyes more effectively and to keep yourself safer on the road.
Keep Your Chin Up
Most of the time, your eyes should be looking farther down the road, at the place where your car will be in 15 – 30 seconds.
In fact, looking farther down the road is so important that when new race car drivers are being trained, their trainers sometimes cover up the lower half of their windshield, forcing them to raise their eyes and look farther down the road.
Yes, what’s going on immediately around you is important. But by watching farther down the road ahead, you will spot problems and dangerous situations earlier, while you still have time to avoid them, if possible.
When you’re driving, one of the worst things you can have is a surprise.
Monitor Your Environment
Most of your attention needs to be ahead of you, but you also need to be aware of what’s going on around you. Danger can come at you from the rear, from the next lane, from a cross street… from any direction really. The safest drivers are those that pay most attention to what’s going on around them.
The best way to visually monitor the traffic around you
is to keep your eyes moving.
There’s no way that you can see all you`ll need to see by staring at one spot, so keep your eyes moving. Glance about quickly to take in information, then return your focus to where your car will be in a few seconds.
If you think this is a problem for you, practice this: Look down the road, then glance at something else: the rearview mirror, the speedometer, the lane marker, any one useful thing.
Then look down the road again. Then look at something else.
Then down the road, then at something else, then down the road.
Keep your eyes moving, focusing on the many things that can affect your safety. Aim every other glance down the road, and in between look at the other things that you also need to monitor.
Pay Attention to your Physical Condition
Eyes aren’t machines; they’re organic parts of your body. As such, they’re affected by whatever can affect the rest of you. Eyes that are too tired, or that are watery from allergies or crying won’t be able to refocus quickly enough for you to see all the things that you need to see.
If your eyes aren’t feeling up the driving task, you shouldn’t be behind the wheel. Let someone else do the driving, or get off the road until you feel better. A short nap is better than risking your life driving with tired eyes.
After all, it’s much better to get there a little late than crash and not get there at all.
Incidentally, the refocusing of eyes is one of the chief reasons why driving at night can be more difficult for older drivers. As we age, our body parts become less flexible, and that includes our eyes. The iris – the colored circle around the pupil – is actually a ring of muscle that makes the pupil larger in dim light and smaller in bright light.
In most older drivers, the iris becomes less flexible, so that their eyes become slower to adapt to changing light conditions. Eyes that are open wide for driving on a dark road will be surprised and blinded upon meeting the bright headlights of another car and take longer to adjust to the change. These drivers may actually be “nightblinded” for a few seconds after the other car is gone, making for some risky driving.
This is just another example of a fundamental aspect of driving: know your limitations. If your eyes aren’t up to driving at night, give the keys to someone else. Or plan your days so that you’ll be off of the road before night falls.
None of us like to admit we’re getting older, but that admission is far less humiliating than taking stupid risks because of pride or fear of embassment.
Limit your Distractions
Distracted driving is one of the greatest dangers on the roads today. As cars become more technologically evolved, there’s just more to be distracted by than there used to be.
Food, radios, and talking passengers have always been distractions. But now we have all sorts of digital communications, GPS directions, and other wireless communications that occupy attention and brain activity that should be reserved for driving.
There’s a lot of talk about how alcohol limits a driver’s ability to handle his car, but there are an increasing number of studies that show that distracted driving can be more dangerous than drunk driving.
Perhaps the greatest danger to modern drivers is texting while driving. As we’ve explained before, there are three sorts of distractions for a driver.
Texting is so dangerous because it is all three types of distraction at once.
To make yourself a safer driver, limit your distractions. Let that call go to voicemail. Answer that text later. Pull off of the road to consult your GPS, or let a passenger check it for you. Stop the car and eat. And don’t be afraid to tell your passengers to be quiet for a bit if you get into a situation that requires more concentration. After all, you’ll be keeping them safe, too.
Your eyes are remarkable devices for letting information about your surroundings get into your brain. But in order for them to make you a safer driver, you have to keep them in working condition and aim them at the things that matter most when you’re on the road.
Comedy Guys Defensive Driving teaches our various defensive driving classes — both live and online — and publishes these driving tips for one reason: to make every Texas driver a safer driver.
There are many reasons for taking a driving safety class: improving behind-the-wheel knowledge, brushing up on driving tips and regulations, getting a Texas speeding ticket dismissed, or reducing auto insurance costs.
If you or someone you know can benefit from a defensive driving course, contact ComedyGuys.com. Our schedule of live defensive driving classes are available online, and includes 25+ locations across Texas. Our online defensive driving course is available to you anywhere you can get online. Infinitely flexible, you can log in and out whenever you want and even take our online course using your mobile device.