What happens before most all collisions? The driver has a fixed stare. That is why the most common comment after a collision (other than “It’s not my fault!!”) is “I just didn’t see him.”
Breaking the fixed stare is a challenge for all drivers – not just beginners. Remember, if you look at an object for longer than two seconds, you begin to lose your peripheral vision (the vision that enables us to detect movement from the sides).
So, how do we break the fixed stare pattern? There are several ways. Here are some that you want to coach while you are in the vehicle with your teen driver.
Turn your head slightly as you before you enter and pass intersections without lights or signs. (The tendency here is to stare straight ahead – never assume that the other drivers will yield or stop.)
Check the mirror before slowing, changing lanes or turning and again after turning.
Use S.M.O.G. for your lane change sequence.
Turn your head to scan the intersection while you are counting 1-2-3 after the vehicle ahead of you has started to move (this occurs when you are back in the pack at a light and the light turns green – wait until the vehicle directly in front of you moves before you start your count).
Use commentary while clearing the intersections.
Yes, there are more things you can do to break the fixed stare and in the next ezine, I will discuss how you can develop a figure eight search pattern to help make your eye movements more fluid.