After learning the basics of driving – so being able to control the vehicle and learning the controls – anticipation and planning is the next skill to master and its not always the easiest to learn. In order to be a safe and effective driver you need to be able to anticipate potential traffic hazards effectively.
So – you need to be more observant of your surroundings, look further ahead than you think is appropriate. Think of the bigger picture – driving safely involves being aware of the whole area around your vehicle at all times – front, behind, sides.
So lets define anticipation….this is observing, making a mental note of the information and foreseeing potential hazards before they happen – what might happen in any given situation. For example, if a bus stops you could anticipate people running out into the road from it, or it suddenly pulling out again without signalling.
By anticipating what might happen on the road and with other traffic, and planning appropriately there is more likelihood of avoiding danger while driving.
By anticipating and planning ahead – you will be more prepared and there will be less likelihood of you being surprised by anothers actions. You need to be alert at all times.
To help you with learning to anticipate you can ask yourself questions as you are driving about your surrounding area such as;
What is that pedestrian going to do?
What if that car pulls out in front of me from the junction?
What if the vehicle in front of me suddenly stops or turns off with no indication?
What if that parked car suddenly opens their door?
What if that cyclist swings out into my driving path?
By asking these questions and others you will teach your brain to automatically plan and respond appropriately to hazards while you drive.
You can also practice this even when you are not in a car – what about as a passenger, on your bike, or even walking. If you take a bus, sit at the front on the top then you get a good view of everything and you can still practice anticipation and planning – it takes time to master but you’ll get it soon enough as long as you train your mind to do so.