Remembering to Look

I apologize for disappearing from the blog for several years. Luckily (I suppose), this hiatus has allowed me to develop even more driving pet-peeves to discuss! Driving is a very complex task, and it’s easy to develop bad habits. The goal of WDYLHTD is to bring these bad habits to people’s attention. It’s important to “check yourself before you wreck yourself,” so to speak.

With that in mind, I’m here to talk about where people look when they’re turning onto a road. I’ve noticed that people tend to only look one direction. Visual representations:

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Someone making a right turn will only look to their left (green squiggle is the area of vision).

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Someone making a left turn will only look to their right (green squiggle is the area of vision).

It seems as though folks get stuck looking only at the lane into which they are turning.

You were probably told to look both ways before you cross the street, right? Well, the same applies to driving… although it’d probably be something more like “look everywhere before you go anywhere.”

Anyway, problems can occur when you neglect to observe all sides of your surroundings. These problems include:

  1. Pulling out in front of/hitting another vehicle. This is most likely to occur when making a left turn. If you’re only looking to your right at the cars traveling in the lane you wish to join, you’ll miss all of the traffic traveling IN THE LANE THAT’S NEAREST TO YOU. Jesus Christ on a bicycle, it’s one of the scariest things to see while driving. On numerous occasions, I’ve had to slow down for someone pulling into the road right in front of me to make their left turn… without even once looking in my direction
  2. Hitting pedestrians/cyclists. These meandering embodiments of mayhem can show up at anytime and come from any direction. Pedestrians, especially, are sneaky and will often pop out of nowhere, hiding their intentions to cross until the last minute. If you’re not checking the “other direction” (whatever direction that may be), you run the very real risk of driving right into someone who’s pedaling by or crossing the street in front of you. That’s bad. Don’t do that.

So, what can you do to avoid falling into this trap? The simple answer would be to—duh—just remember to look in both directions before you make a move. However, that may be difficult for some people to remember. Others may need a stronger directive. For those folks, you might try looking the “other direction” every 7 seconds while you’re waiting AND BEFORE YOU LET OFF THE BRAKE! Especially that last part. Everyone should do that last part. Don’t even inch forward without looking at what’s in front of you.

Driving requires active participation, so actively remember to look both ways when you’re making a maneuver.