You’ve heard the term scanning, but do really know what it is and how to employ it to become a better driver? First things first, scanning is knowing where, when and how to look 360 degrees around the vehicle for signs, signals, roadway markings and potential hazards. Here’s what you need to know to become a better driver.
Scanning refers to checking down the road as well as looking all around your vehicle using your
mirrors. A general rule of thumb is to scan ahead 12-15 seconds in all environments, 1-11⁄2 blocks in city environments and 1⁄4 mile in highway environments. Blind spots and mirrors should be checked every 3-5 seconds before and after changing lanes.
We can’t control what the vehicles behind us do, but we can check our mirrors and blind spots so that we are aware of their actions. If you find that you are being tailgated, reduce your speed and increase your following distance to try to reduce the chances of abrupt braking. If you are not already in the right lane, you may also change lanes to the right and allow for the tailgater to pass you if legal and safe to do so.
In addition to scanning—communication is important in preparing you to become a better driver.
Communicating means using your directional signals, hazard lights, running lights, high and low
beams, horn and the position of your vehicle to inform other drivers of your intentions. For example, you can communicate by moving your vehicle within your lane or even by changing lanes. Communicating your intentions to others on the road is vital to their safety and yours.
Establish a Cushion of Safety:
The last point—cushion of safety, refers to the entire area around your vehicle (front, sides, rear) that you should try to keep free of other vehicles and pedestrians. To maintain the cushion of safety in front of your vehicle, keep a following distance of 3-5 seconds between your vehicle and others. Check your mirrors regularly and blind spots every 3-5 seconds before and after changing lanes. Becoming a better driver is within you reach when properly utilizing S.C.C.
Practice Makes You a Better Driver
Using S.C.C.—scanning, communicating, and cushion of Safety, will help you become a better driver (or proactive driver) ready to size up any situation. Whether you’re a brand new driver or you have years of experience, take responsibility for your driving responses and actions. The only way you’re going to do that and do that well, is to remain proactive in your approach to driving.
Remember those three words, scanning, communicating, cushion of safety. Apply them on the roadway, whether it’s in adverse conditions, ideal conditions, whether you’re driving in congested areas or on rural roads.