#12: Know What Is At Your Side
Scanning your surroundings (keeping your eyes moving) includes keeping a safe distance around your vehicle. When another driver makes a mistake, you need time to react. Give yourself this time by keeping a “space cushion” on all sides of your vehicle. This space cushion will give you room to brake or maneuver if you need it.
Keep an eye on the drivers to your sides, not just their cars. If a driver just ahead of you in the next lane keeps glancing in your direction, he might soon merge in front of you. Give this driver room, or at least stay out of his blind spot. If a driver next to you appears to be speaking on a cell phone adjust your speed to distance yourself from that vehicle.
If you only look at the middle of the road, you will miss what is happening on the side of the road and behind you. Scanning helps you to see:
* Cars and people that may be in the road by the time you reach them.
* Signs warning of problems ahead.
* Signs giving you directions.
Any time you come to a place where people may cross or enter your path or one line of traffic meets another, you should look to the left and right sides of your vehicle to make sure no one is coming. Always look to each side at intersections, crosswalks, and railroad crossings.
To maintain a space cushion on each side of your vehicle:
1. Don’t stay in another driver’s blind spot. The other driver may not see your car and could change lanes and hit you.
2. Avoid driving alongside other vehicles on multilane streets with or without traffic in the opposite direction. Another driver may crowd your lane or change lanes without looking and crash into you. Drive either ahead of or behind the other vehicle.
3. If possible, make room for vehicles entering freeways even though you have the right-of-way.
4. At freeway exits, don’t drive alongside other cars. A driver may decide to exit suddenly or swerve back on.
5. Keep a space between yourself and parked cars. Someone may step out from between them. A car door may open or a car may pull out suddenly.
6. Be careful when riding near bicyclists. Always leave plenty of room between your vehicle and any bicyclist.