We get stuck in our habits, and this applies to how we drive our cars as well as what we prefer for lunch and what TV shows we find most engaging. When it comes to driving, unlike which sub shop has the best tuna on rye, or what program will entertain us the most when we sit down and relax to watch TV, driving habits can impact not only our lives, but result in car repair that can be expensive and inconvenient. Your Fort Collins car repair shop will see plenty of crunched and munched up vehicles pass through the repair bay, that are there because the driver wasn’t paying enough attention to the road ahead, the traffic on the sides, or elements in nature. A few adjustments in the way one drives can prevent a lot of these accidents.
A good general driving habit to increase awareness of what’s going on is to look straight ahead in the direction the car is traveling and adjust your line of site slightly upwards. If you train yourself to look not at the vehicles in front of your car, but ahead of them, you will be more aware of potential hazards far before it is almost impossible to avoid an accident.
Our vision evolved to scan what is around us at walking and running speed. To compensate for car travel, which is much faster, we need to adjust the way we view the world around us. These habits are not natural to us, so we need to intentionally train ourselves to use our vision differently when driving. Our peripheral vision works quite efficiently at close distance, but is less effective for a long distance motion like driving. Focus your main line of vision outward. Always look as far ahead as possible and observe what is happening. Scan the road one half mile ahead, not within 50 feet, as we do when walking or riding a bicycle. Force yourself to scan further ahead than is natural, and it will become a habit. Aim your line of site in the direction your vehicle is moving. For example, if your are turning right, gently move your head in that direction and scan visually as far as possible, instead of on the car in front of you. With time, you will discover that this makes adapting your vehicle to road conditions much smoother, as well as making you more aware of traffic conditions in general.
Another visual driving practice is to drive appropriately for conditions. If bad weather is approaching, or one is driving at night on curvy mountain roads, or a driver finds themselves in area with a lot of pedestrian traffic, slow down. Here in Colorado we have quite a variety of wildlife on our roads. Be aware that elk and deer, even moose, have no idea that your car is a hazard, but you need to know that those animals are a hazard to your car. Your Fort Collins car repair shop will process quite a few dents and windshield replacements caused by animals on the road. By altering the way you watch the road, you can help avoid your car becoming one of those damaged by an elk running right into your vehicle. Slowing down will allow you to increase reaction time should an animal dart out in front of your vehicle, and that is exactly what most of them do when they see approaching headlights. If you frequent a rural area, you will become quite accustomed to seeing animals along the road, and learn to watch for them. Here are some simple tips to begin to habituate yourself to to avoid a collision with an animal on the road:
- Stay Alert. Avoid driving with other distractions.
- Slow Down to increase your reaction time.
- Scan Ahead and watch for movement along roadsides.
- Look for more animals after you see one animal – they often travel in groups. Females of many species especially tend to travel in small family groups with their infants.
- If you see an animal on the road, don’t swerve to avoid her, she is likely to become mobile and run towards your vehicle even if you try and move in another direction. Simply brake your car until she passes.
- Be ready for animals to change direction.
- Throwing garbage out the car attracts animals to the road area, so don’t litter.
- Obey traffic signs, including wildlife warning and speed limit signs.
- Watch for shining eyes. These are often visible long before the animal will be.
- Use high beams to improve visibility when there’s no oncoming traffic.
- Slow down on blind curves, and pass with care.
Just about any ordinary event could turn into a roadway hazard. by extending your vision, and keeping it in motion, you will notice potential hazards ahead of time. That extra 30 seconds might be all the time you need to stay safe.