Why you need to look further down the road

Lifting your vision: an essential, but simple, 'advanced' driving skill

Most people don’t look far enough forward or far enough around bends when they drive. Lifting and broadening your vision is a neat, simple trick that gives you more time to react to otherwise unforeseen events, or those you would otherwise have perceived too late to avoid.

Basically, when you’re not checking your rear-view mirrors, you need to be looking as far down the road ahead as possible. Interestingly, looking as far ahead as you can doesn’t hinder your view of the world closer to the car – but looking about two car lengths ahead does effectively prevent you from perceiving the world at long distance.

In corners, many people stop looking around the bend when they get to the A-pillar (that’s the metal strut at the edge of the windscreen). It’s far better if you look beyond the A-pillars in tight bends – through the side windows if necessary.

Looking further ahead – and around – makes cornering smoother, and it gives you far more time to react to upcoming problems. Just one or two seconds’ more time means 28 or 56 metres more in which to stop (respectively) at normal highway travelling speeds. Even at 50km/h, two more seconds’ reaction time means 28 metres more safety space – that’s about seven car lengths.

safetyJohn CadoganComment