Focus is an important skill when driving

Taking wrong cue on road

We take many of our driving cues from what is happening around us when we are in traffic.

If we are paying attention and watching for the correct cues all goes well. Stop paying full attention to the driving task, accidentally take the wrong cue and you can easily cause a collision.

A case in point occurred recently. A car was waiting, first in line at a red light in the left through lane. I pulled up beside it in the right through lane at the same time as the left turn signal we were facing changed to green. Signals for through traffic remained red, as there were vehicles using the oncoming left turn lane.

The driver of the car beside me probably saw the green arrow and my movement in the intended direction of travel in his peripheral vision and decided it was time to go. Something must not have seemed quite right because the driver did not accelerate as quickly as vehicles facing a new green light usually do.

Before moving ahead on a green light the driver should have completed a 180-degree scan of the intersection. That means a scan from left to right and back again to search for hazards.

If he had done that, he might have realized the light was not green for him and we should all know a green light does not always mean go.

Fortunately, the oncoming driver was watching the right cues. He slowed enough so the driver who was beside me did not collide with him, although it was a near miss. The driver beside me should have watched the overhead signal for the lane that he was in. Once he saw the green, he should have looked left, right and left again, to proceed through the intersection only if it was safe to do so.

Not paying full attention to the driving task and catching the wrong cues is an invitation for trouble. Add distractions or impairments to the mix and it becomes even more dangerous.

The ability to focus yourself is an important driving skill.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. He has been writing his column for most of the 20 years of his service in the RCMP.

The column was 'The Beat Goes On' in Fort St. John, 'Traffic Tips' in the South Okanagan and now 'Behind the Wheel' on Vancouver Island and here on Castanet.net.

Schewe retired from the force in January of 2006, but the column has become a habit, and continues.

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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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