Many reasons are given for accidents’ occurring, such as driving too fast, improper passing, disregarding road signs, and so forth, but the fundamental fault in perhaps the majority of all accidents is failing to look and see."
How common the cry after an accident: “I didn't even see him!” But why do so many people fail to see?
Develop Good Looking Habits
A major reason is that they simply fail to look. Their minds are on other things, and this is as true with pedestrians as it is with car drivers.
A child chasing a ball often is intent only on recovering the ball. So he does not see the driver that slams into him.
Parents should impress upon their children that the street is one of the most dangerous places in the world, and that they should never cross one without looking both ways.
Car drivers, too, need to cultivate good looking habits. When driving through sections where children customarily play, be on the lookout for them.
Other critical areas are intersections, and when heading out of parking lots. Never fail to look both ways at such places!
Do you always make sure to look behind when pulling out from a parking place at the curb? It is vital to do so.
A good driver is always conscious of what is going on behind him. He checks the rear-view mirror about every five seconds or so whenever there are cars ahead or behind.
Never does he fail to look back before changing lanes. And when there is a slowdown in traffic or he sees a possible delay up ahead, he instantly checks the situation behind.
It is interesting that one out of every four daytime accidents is said to involve a vehicle going backward.
So apparently many persons fail to look to see what is behind them when they are backing up. The proper way to do it is to turn your head to face the rear.
In this way one can get a good view so as to know whether everything is all clear.
Failure to look explains why so many accidents occur in clear dry weather, on straight roads and in light traffic.
Under such conditions the driver is more apt to feel secure and to allow his attention to shift to matters other than his driving, causing him to operate his car by habit alone.
But beware of complacency! Distractions can be fatal!
Distractions to Proper Looking
A chief distraction to safe driving is concern over one’s destination.
Looking for road signs, street addresses or consulting a map often takes one’s attention off the traffic picture just long enough to result in an accident.
Or it may be that one is intent on turning at a particular corner, or heading into or out of a parking place.
It is said that over half of all traffic accidents occur when drivers get absorbed in such route problems.
The scenery is another distraction that drivers with good looking habits avoid.
This can be anything along the road that makes one curious and holds his eyes too long.
It may be a beautiful sunset, a majestic mountain scene, or perhaps an acquaintance seen on the street.
However, a good driver keeps his eyes moving all the time, and never stops them to fix on any object for longer than two seconds.
He does not succumb to the bad habit of window shopping while driving past stores, nor does he allow himself to admire a new model car, an attractive girl or things like that.
Neither will distractions within the car grab the attention of a good driver. He does not turn his head to look at persons when he speaks to them.
Nor will he allow disturbances such as quarreling children, a buzzing bee or a heated conversation to interfere with his concentration on driving.
His sole attention is riveted on the traffic situation!
Look! Look! Look!
It is not surprising, therefore, that when a study was recently made of a group of professional drivers who have won safe driving awards for twenty years or more, they all were found to excel in one faculty:
They drove with total concentration. Their pattern, as one observer put it, was "Look, look, look-drive, drive, drive.”
But proper looking does not mean fixing one’s eyes on the bumper of the car in front.
Many persons unfortunately do this, and, strange as it seems, more than once it has occurred that when drivers have pulled off a highway to stop, the car behind has followed and smashed right into them!
A good driver will never allow his eyes to develop such a disastrous hypnotic stare.
He will keep them on constant patrol glancing near and far ahead, to the sides and in the rear-view mirror-seeing things in quick dashes.
He will get the big picture habit, watching all objects for a block ahead in town, and half a mile ahead on rural roads.
Since looking is done with the eyes but actual seeing with the mind, it is vital that the mind pay close attention to what the eyes look at.
If one is lost in personal thoughts, overly tired, irritated at another driver or hurrying for an appointment, the mind is less likely actually to see the traffic situations at which the eyes look.
For proper seeing the mind must be clear of outside thoughts and centered on one’s driving.
Eye defects can also contribute to faulty seeing. For instance, one may have 20/20 vision and yet his field of vision may cover only objects directly in front of him.
This means that a driver with “tunnel vision,” as this defect is called, will not see the pedestrian or car off to his side.
Even persons with normal vision have their field of vision narrowed to little more than the width of the road at speeds in excess of 60 m.p.h. So speed is a chief hindrance to proper seeing.
It is, therefore, vital that a driver not only look, but see. If more persons did, there would be far less carnage on the highways.