Many times I have seen a driver run full speed into the back of another car at the start of an event. Why, what was going on?
Lack of situational awareness and his vision was locked on the rear bumper of the car ahead. They did not see the brake lights or the slower acceleration of the cars two or three ahead and couldn’t react in time.
How do you improve in this area? We always talk about looking ahead, but how do you do that when you’re in the fifth row of a race start or stuck in miles of traffic on Hwy 99?
It’s called situational analysis in aviation terms but it works well in a race and even everyday traffic situations. A traffic jam very seldom starts with just the car ahead of you or even with you ( Hope not). It starts with some sort of situation km ahead. So how do you avoid becoming one of the statistics (44 car accident on Hwy 99 this morning, traffic backed up for 5 km)? How do you keep that semi-truck 15 inches from your rear bumper becoming 24 inches inside your trunk?
Situational awareness while driving.
When driving in any sort of traffic, always keep your eyes roaming ahead, not just the bumper in front of you but scanning from 1 km ( yes you can see 1 Km, our roads are very seldom so straight that you cannot see a curve, a hill or a valley ) to 10 cars, 5 cars, 2 cars ahead of you, even by looking through the windows. (Yes I know many have blackout levels of tints, but that’s another blog.) but it is amazing how much you can understand by looking through the windows and windshields of cars in front of you.
We all know that every car properly licensed on the highway has something called brake lights, if you see brake lights flashing in sequence 1 km ahead, let it register with you, something is going on, I might have to slow down or brake.
If it is 10 cars, then 9 cars, then 8 cars, you probably need to be deciding on some action. If it’s 4 or 5 cars, you probably need to be doing something now. This is not to say you have to jump on your brakes and cause someone to pile into the back of you ( creating that 44-car pile-up) but be aware of the situation that is happening and signal your intent by touching your brakes ( yes your brake lights will flash, hopefully letting someone behind you know something is happening.) By planning ahead, by letting people behind you know you might be slowing down, just maybe one more situation has been avoided.
By looking ahead, by being aware, by some very simple planning ahead techniques, and by using the vision we are all supposed to have to get a driver's license, you can avoid becoming that 20th car in a 44-car sandwich.
Look up, look ahead and be aware, it could save your life.
If you want someone to help you practice this looking ahead, contact GTRace Experience and come to the track to real-life enable the look up, look ahead under the supervision of people who do this every day.