Safe Driving Requires Constant Observation

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I had a student go through a Practical Driving Test today, unfortunately, unsuccessfully. Have a look at the brief capture from inside the car, which shows the driver coming off a freeway and toward a controlled intersection. Careful observation shows there are three lanes on approach. The driver is in the centre of the three lanes. The left lane is a dedicated left-turn-only, the centre lane goes straight ahead or left, while the right-hand lane continues straight ahead. The cross-street is one-way, to the left.

While the dotted line/lane markers turning left leave something to be desired as far as clarity goes, the lane marker turning left immediately to the driver’s right is quite clear. The one dividing the driver from the immediate left lane – alongside him – is almost non-existent. There IS a vehicle in the left lane – a taxi – waiting to turn left. What the trainee driver does is blatantly incorrect, however, understandable, as new drivers tend to look for clear definition to their lane markers which sometimes just don’t exist. Careful all-round observation by the driver while sitting at the red light, waiting his turn to proceed, would have allowed him to sort out exactly where the lanes went, and subsequently, where he should have gone. The mistake is understandable, but regrettable at the same time. A collision almost resulted and the test examiner had to intervene to push the steering right, avoiding collision. That, sadly, results in an immediate unsuccessful test.

This sort of circumstance, while reasonably common among new drivers, can be mitigated by close and careful observation of surroundings and circumstances every driver experiences as they move on our roads. Not every set of circumstances is perfect, so we need to be able to compensate for those imperfections in order to stay safe. Scanning the environment we’re in, from moment to moment, is vital so that we’re aware of who is there, what they’re doing and where we’re going.

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