How easy is it to get caught out by something unexpected when you’re driving! The traffic lights that change to amber just ahead of you, the pedestrian on that last zebra crossing, or that bend which was much sharper than you expected. Or something even more critical!
When things like that happen, it could be quite dangerous. Should I brake for the lights and risk the guy behind coming into the back of me, or keep going and risk running a red light? If I get away with it today, something tells me I might not get away with it another time. If there had been ice on that bend, or wet leaves, or another car coming the other way, what would have happened?
Even if it wasn’t dangerous, it’s unsettling. It’s just made me aware of the fact that I wasn’t aware! That means I’m not fully in control of this car on this road at this point in time. “Getting away with it” was a matter of luck. What if my luck runs out?
Is there anything I can do about this? Are there any strategies can I adopt so that things don’t catch me out on the roads?
You probably know all about the common distractions. Talking to passengers, or listening as they talk to each other, you get caught up with what they’re saying, and miss something on the road. The same thing happens with the radio, and of course, the hands-free mobile phone conversation. It may be legal, but you’re focussed on the conversation, not what’s happening on this road, now. That makes it so much easier to miss something.
But what happens when you’re on your own in the car? With no passengers to distract you, no radio and no phone, does that improve the situation? I know what happens to me. I start thinking about something. I get caught up in a long train of thoughts, just as distracting as any conversation. Indeed, whenever I make a mistake in my driving, and I ask myself, “Why did that happen?”, the honest answer is usually, “I was thinking (about something else)!” It seems that my mind is part of the problem.
So tuning out of what your passengers are saying, or even asking them to be quiet a moment while you deal with some problem, may be a starting point in keeping focussed on the road, but most of us need some more proactive strategies to keep the mind focussed.