A defensive driver will-
Actively scan the roadway a distance of 12 to 15 seconds ahead: Looking for signs, signals, and potential problems. Keep your eyes moving. (Refer to Vision- Chapter 15). Develop a pattern to your visual search. Include the rear-view and side mirrors, as well as the dash. Check ahead from one side of the road to the other. You will have a complete traffic picture around you. By aiming high and keeping your eyes moving, you will center your vehicle in your lane on straight roads and in curvatures. At intersections, the scan should include cross traffic as far as possible before and as you enter the intersection.
From all the information your eyes are scanning, you must select the critical data. The signs, signals, hazards and problems identified that require a decision on your part: you’re selective seeing ability.
Focus on other vehicles, pedestrians, and animals, stationary and moving objects, and traffic devices that may affect your travel path. You are in motion; you are getting closer to what you have identified. If you were scanning far enough ahead, you still have 8 to 10 seconds before you will reach the indentified hazard.
Ask yourself: “what if…?” What is the “worst case scenario” for each of the two identified items? You need to predict two levels- “What is the most probable?” and the “worst case scenario”. You need to know in advance that the potential travel paths are and the timing of relative hazard movements that will create closed or changing spaces.
You must expect the unexpected be prepared for sudden movements of other road users. Make sure they see you! The use of the horn and/or flashing the high beams is effective means of getting attention. Make “eye to eye” contact! Another road user looking at you knows you are present, and is not likely to enter your travel path. You are now 6-8 seconds from the identified hazard.
You must decide what you are going to do to minimize your risk. While predicting the two levels of danger from the upcoming situation, you communicated your presence and hopefully obtained “eye to eye” contact.
Now you must adapt to the potential hazard. Your travel path and vehicle speed are the two main aspects of control available to you. Reduction of speed will give you more time before you reach the hazard. The situation can change in this extra time. Reduced speed will also lower the force of impact should a collision occur. A change of lane or lane position will create a larger “space cushion” between you and the hazard.
Decide on two levels – “What evasive maneuver will I employ?” Leave yourself an out. “Where will I go?” or “What will I do?” You are still 4-6 seconds away from the hazard.
Immediately, execute stage one. Change your travel path or vehicle speed or both
In so doing, you have minimized the probability of danger. Time to the hazard has been increased. Space between you and the hazard, in case the “worse case scenario” still develops, has also been increased. The probable danger has been reduce; however, you still have your stage two decision to execute should the “worst case scenario” occur; your “out” if the conflict develops. You have acted in anticipation and your decision is already made for your “out”. You are programmed for action. In other words, you have already decided and have saved the normal decision making time in an emergency situation.