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View Blocked. Many things can block a driver’s view of traffic, such as bushes at the side of the road, hillcrests and bends on the other road, etc. However the most insidious situation is when three moving vehicles are in-line as they approach each other. Sometimes the middle vehicle hides the view of the others from seeing each other.

Didn’t Look Correctly. Poor observation techniques are dangerous. One common error is referred to as “tunnel-vision” where a driver stares down the centre of the road to the exclusion of the wider scene. Another is the timing of when and where we look, as we turn etc. (See Great-Driving-Habit # One).

Visibility. Different weather, light and traffic situations may make visibility difficult as can dust storms or smoke. Moving the eyes slower through fog and developing the art of observing with the peripheral vision can be of assistance.



Judgment is both a left and right brain function; therefore males compared with females process judgment differently. Judgment is also based on knowledge, experience and attitude.

Speed / Distance. This is best assessed by looking at solutions (or “Traffic-Gaps”) as opposed to looking for problems (e.g. other vehicles).

Safe / Unsafe. Without some trust in other people or machines, we can’t function appropriately. Knowing when to not trust someone or something is a great skill and attitude.

Wrong Signal. Especially the left signal prior to an intersection when you are turning later than the intersection is very dangerous. Other times a signal may be too late or misunderstood because of timing.

Running the Traffic Lights. An amber (yellow) light means stop, unless you are so close to the stop line when it first comes on that it is unsafe to stop. Often drivers think, “Can I make it”?   That wrong mental question means that drivers often keep going through the traffic lights when they ought to stop. This situation doesn’t allow right turning vehicles to complete their turn safely.


A Three-Point-Plan To Avoid Running The Traffic Lights.

1.      Know what is behind you, and think about the speed that you are approaching the green light.  Ask the question - given the road and weather conditions, could I safely stop if they change?

2.      Place an imaginary mark on the road where you think is the last place from which you could reasonably brake to a smooth, firm stop. If the road is wet you might increase this distance by an extra 50% compared with a dry road.  If it is heavy rain with water flowing on the road, you might double it. If there is a large heavy vehicle close behind you, you might triple the distance.

3.      As you approach your imaginary mark, if the lights change to yellow before you reach it, brake decisively to a stop; if you have passed the imaginary mark, gently accelerate and be very wary of other vehicles, especially right turning vehicles that are facing you.

Fatigue.  A great killer, which is responsible for almost one-third of drivers killed on country roads.


Fatigue Management In A Nutshell.


We all sleep in ninety-minute cycles. At the end of each cycle we decide if we will become fully awake or go into another sleep cycle.   Often we move into another body position.


The first two-thirds (sixty minutes) of each cycle we progressively go deeper into the ‘delta’ state, which is the deepest sleep where the brain slows to a speed less than four cycles per second.


Then for thirty minutes the brain speeds up to the ‘theta’ state where there is less than seven cycles per second. At the end of this section is where we dream. We usually wake up in the dream.


According to Dr Philip Swann, notionally, we have a thing called a “Sleep-Bank”.  We make deposits to the “Sleep-Bank” by being asleep and withdrawals by being awake. We can’t cheat this bank; when we run out of reserves, we go to sleep. This happens in three stages. First a micro-sleep, which is so fast that we may not be aware that we just had one.  This is usually induced by a sudden movement of the eye, such as when we look left and right at an intersection. Second a mini-sleep, which may last one or two seconds. This is common when we become fatigued on long trips. It often results in head jerks.   Thirdly, we go to sleep.


The first third of the ‘delta’ sleep period (twenty minutes) we are paying back to the “Sleep-Bank” a greater value than the rest of the ninety-minute sleep cycle on a diminishing basis. This is why they call ten to fifteen minute sleeps “power-naps”, because they have more value than any other equivalent period in the sleep cycle. The problem with longer than twenty-minute periods of sleep is that you go too deep into the ‘delta’ state and you may be too drowsy to drive safely.



Attitude is made up of our belief-system, habits and feelings. Feelings or emotions are most dynamic and will alter from moment to moment as we drive. It is so important to keep control of our emotions.

Alert / Wary.  (Being defensive). The question should always be, “Is the other driver having a problem that I can help him/her solve? Rather than “Get out of my way you idiot, I have the right-of-way”!

Communication. We often forget how important brake lights are in communication. So often it is possible to alert the driver behind to a problem with the flash of a brake light even when we don’t need brakes yet. Horn and signals should be used appropriately.

Aggressive / Impatient/ Hesitation. Form a continuum of belief about our own importance and skill level as a driver.  The “Golden-Rule” of “Do to others as you would have them do to you” would seem appropriate here.