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Improving driving anticipation and perception?
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Improving driving anticipation and perception?

Any suggestions on improving anticipation and perception skills with driving?


Join your local Advanced Driving Centre.
They are very help full and I think you will get great value for money and a skill for life.

Dave E
The Advanced Driving manual, Roadcraft explains that the basis for improved anticipation is based on taking and using information, and that this is based on:
1. What can be seen
2. What cannot be seen
3. What can reasonably be expected to happen.

1. What can be seen can be obvious, or a reflection in a shop window. Look ahead, across the hedges and in the gaps, can you see a vehicle ahead or oncoming. A favorite Advanced Driving question is to ask the colour of the oncoming car, just after it has disappeared behind another hedge.

2. What cannot be seen can mean smell or noise. At a humpback bridge can you hear a car horn? Do you lower your window and switch off your radio so that you can hear that car horn?

3. What can reasonably be expected to happen. This isn't necessarily obvious; rubbish bags / wheelie bins at the side of the road can mean that the Refuse Truck is just round the corner - this is an observation link. Other observation links include:
A circle of lamp-posts means a roundabout
A single lamp-post is opposite a junction
Steaming horse-poo means the horse is round the next corner!
An exposed bridge is a micro-climate - it gets ice when other places are clear
A gap in the hedge is a micro-climate - expect a side-wind

Advanced driving teaches you these techniques and how to apply this information, local IAM groups round the UK provide free tuition using volunteers like myself.

Roxanne G
No distractions while you're behind the wheel - always try and look ahead to what's happening several cars ahead of you.

thomas b
The idea of anticipation and perception is to try to work out what other drivers on the road are going to do before they do it . So what you are trying to do is put yourself in their car and think what would i do in that position ,when you are driving along ideally you should be looking about three to four car lengths in front of you this helps to have quicker anticipation of the road and other drivers in front of you .

I try to imagine what is the dumbest thing that the people around me could do,treat this as a game and you will be surprised how you soon learn to anticipate what people around you are going to do.

1) Check out these 2 books:
"Paul Ripley's Expert Driving" (ISBN 0716030098)
"RoadCraft" (ISBN 0113408587)
both of which will get you started off on using advanced driving skills

2) Book a few sessions with a reputable Advanced Driving Instructor

3) Practise & experience from actually driving on the road

4) Check out this flash game, intended to prep UK learner drivers for the Hazard perception test:

Some good comments have been made so far.
My suggestions would be experience, there is no substitute for experience and removing all distractions.

Maybe consider and advanced driving course.

You just have to learn to read the road, it comes with experience.

Treat every other driver as a "loose nut behind the wheel".
Do not tailgate. Use the 2 second rule(and double that when following motorcycles).

Don't just concentrate on the rear bumber of the car in front of you, look 4 cars ahead of him and see what is going on.

Also, have your mirrors set correctly so a quick glance is all you need to see behind and do flash glances at those mirrors.

Be aware what is around you. and what is "possible".

If you can see in the other car look at the driver to see if "thery are awake" or not paying attention.

Old people don't cause accidents because of inattention or being flippant. They got both hands on the wheel and are concentrating. Race car drivers do the same.

Treat driving like a job, and a job you got to do well. And sometimes that means thinking for the other person.

Da Professori
All the above answers are excellent, also from past experience of working in a booking centre for driving tests, use the 'Hazard Perception Test ' DVD, available via DSA, or check out a certain nationwide School of Motoring (no advertising here!) local learning centre, where they have the Theory Test Simulator.

Travel as a passenger you will see more.

Practice and experience are the only sure methods to improve your hazard perception and anticipation.

Always be prepared for what other motorist will do.When stopped at a red light and it goes green look both directions to be sure no one is running a red light before you enter the intersection,always expect what another will do that most do not prepare for.People think that driving above posted speed limits on back roads is safe but that is quite often very wrong,on those back roads is when you are most likely to come across animals on the road and you can never know what your reaction will be,alot of people who live on back roads assume there is hardly ever any traffic so sometimes do not look when they pull out of their driveways.Just always expect the unexpected.

Perception is about being sighted, and sight starts with being able to see, and the first absolute priority is to have good eyesight (with or without spectacles) and clean glass/mirrors.

It's amazing how many people drive around half-blind or with dirty screens etc.

Having stated the obvious, I recall a very interesting study carried out many years ago about "driver types".

I'm going entirely from long-memory, but I think the four categores were as follows:-

a) Disassociated/active (Agressive drivers who were unaware)
b) Disassociated/passive (Slow drivers who were unaware)
c) Associated/active (More agressive driver are very aware of what is going on around them)

d) Associated/passive (probably most women drivers/none agressive and aware of what was going on)

It means that a very large proportion of drivers are really not suitable to the task; being disassociated and unaware, with the worst category being the agressive and "stupidly out of touch with reality" types.

Good drivers absolutely need to be of the "associated" type, who are serioulsy involved in what is going on around them, which is why some FAST drivers never have accidents, whilst the SLOWER and less motivated "disassociated" but passive drivers are probably far more dangerous to themselves and other road-users.

I believe that being "associated" is probably a personality trait, and as such, it is possible that it cannot be altered.

Having got this far, and assuming that the questioner has good eyes and the right sort of personality, the next step is to observe as much as possible, and there is a secret in good observation.

Using your finger-end, bring it towards your eyes until it is almost too close to be in focus. Then ask yourself what you can see other than the finger-end? The answer is "virtually nothing," because peripheral-vision has been destroyed by the near-focus of the eyes.

This means, that when driving, we should NEVER concentrate on the vehicle just in front, or even the one in front of that. Instead, you fix your focus on the most distant objects, which is the same as setting a camera-lens to "infinity."

ONLY THEN is it possible to see everything properly, which is why it is so dangerous to fiddle around with radio stations or try to use sat/navs or key in texts on a mobile-phone, which require that the eyes re-focus to near-vision; thus rendering a driver totally blind to the road.

The rest is down to two things: the learning process and imagination.

All complex skills build on previous skills, and this is why we can't just go to a piano and play it. It starts with basic technique, and on that is built ever greater technique. The same is true of driving, which has a definite repertoire of manouvers, specific things to do and situations into which one should not get.

Remember how difficult it was to learn how to steer or brake smoothly? There is a learning-curve involved.

It is because driving is such a complex and constantly changing task, that all attempts to regulate and control it, amount to so little in safety terms, as accident statistics remain stubbornly static.

Imagination is more to do with those "what if" situations.

What if that child hasn't seen you?

What if that cyclist wobbles when he sets off?

What if that patch of wet road has turned to ice?

Imagination is something which really can't be taught, but it can be developed by a combination of learning and observation.

My best advice would be to "learn from your mistakes," by quietly contemplating what you (or even other people) did wrong, but more importantly, to always drive within the limits of your own ability and those of your vehicle.

They may frustrate me sometimes, but I have every respect for slow SAFE drivers, who drive according to their ability.

If you then drive within the limits of what can be seen and allow for the unexpected things which cannot be seen immediately, there is a good chance that you will become a more attentive and better driver.

2,000,000 miles of safe-driving has taught me one thing, and that is that the fact that the unexpected can and does happen, and only the most finely honed skills will get you out of the situation.

I had one of those "Oh my God" moments last winter, driving a fully laden truck down a steep-hill towards a roundabout, when what I thought was simply a damp road, turned out to be covered in diesel-oil. With something weighing 44 tonnes, even 20mph is potentially lethal, and the loaded trailer was pushing hard when I put on the brakes.

At 3am in the morning, I could get out of trouble only one way, and took the brakes OFF about 20 yds before the roundabout, so that I could get just enough steering to avoid colliding with the roundabout itself; taking the vehicle to the far right as I approached, and then taking the straightest line possible into the roundabout itself. Having got that far, the next problem was turning the vehicle right, which the diesel-oil simply wouldn't allow.So instead, I steered slightly to the right and slammed on the emergency-brake as I did so, which locked the driving wheels of the tractor-unit, causing the whole vehicle to jackknife, but in a straight-line.

The sideways scrub of the tractor rear driving-tyres, (with the tractor at 90 degrees to the trailer) was enough to bring the vehicle safely to a halt, even though it was all a bit dramatic. This gave me just enough space to slide gently to a halt, right up against a lampost. Damage was restricted to a rubber-clip on the mudguard, but it had been a close call.

That was a combination of learning , perception, anticipation and imagination, and it is what can save lives and avoid accidents when something does go wrong unexpectedly.

Of course, I would be fibbing if I didn't say I was quite proud of getting out of that one safely!

So do what you can well, and never stop learning and improving. It could save your life someday, and possibly that of someone else.

I am not kidding you when I say you should learn to ride a motorcycle!

It is well known that you have to have eyes everywhere on a bike and as a result your car driving skills improve massively.

Go on ... get a bike! You just might like it too.

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