Avoiding Car Accidents Through Situational Awareness

A man in a car adjusting his rear view mirror to enhance his situational awareness while drivingSituational awareness is a term that is thrown around a lot, but many people often don’t understand the true complexity of this safe-driving habit. The power of observation while driving takes practice. As your sensory perception builds over time, you’ll be able to pick up on anomalies in the environment that could lead to danger. Since this habit relies on a combination of personal experiences and your alertness, it may be difficult to imagine honing this skill. In this blog, we will provide some tips on learning to avoid car accidents through situational awareness.

What is Situational Awareness?

Situational awareness is the act of developing a mental strategy based on what we see. We form this safe-driving strategy by interpreting what’s before us and determining how to increase our anticipation of threats or anomalies. There are three levels to situational awareness:

  • Looking and Perceiving: This is the simple act of seeing and perceiving.
  • Thinking and Understanding: This level allows you to interpret and find meaning in what you see.
  • Anticipating: This is vital for determining what to expect ahead in time and space.

According to a study by Harvard, promoting situational awareness and encouraging drivers to be hypervigilant of the traffic around them could help decrease the 35,000 vehicle-related fatalities that occur in the U.S yearly.

Drills to Practice Situational Awareness While Driving

Practicing your situational awareness means sharpening your sensory perception and observational skills. The goal is to train your brain to process sensory overload and alert your conscious mind of any anomalies more effectively. Some ways you can drill your situational awareness include:

  • Driving Déjà Vu: While on your morning or evening commute, make a note of the vehicles around you and see if you can recognize any cars that normally travel the same route as you.
  • People Watch: While observing other cars on the road, see if you can safely determine the driver’s body language. See if you can anticipate their next maneuver before they make it.
  • Attention to Details: Pick a car at random and quickly make note of as many identifying characteristics as you can. Observe it as if it was a getaway car and you’re trying to relay all the details to authorities.

While these may seem like simple tasks, regularly honing your situational awareness will gradually increase your ability to avoid hazardous events before they occur. Even if a car accident still occurs, you’ll hopefully have avoided threatening injuries – your auto insurance will handle the rest.

The Lingering Effects of Distracted Driving on Situational Awareness

There are three categories of distracted driving: manual, visual, and cognitive, and regardless of which category your actions fall under, they can negatively impact your situational awareness long after having committed them. In fact, based on a study by the University of Utah, looking at just one text can tie up your brain for the next 27 seconds. Even hands-free voice commands have been found to decrease one’s situational awareness. To avoid any amount of time driving while unfocused on your surroundings, it’s best to avoid all forms of distracted driving.

Learning to avoid car accidents through situational awareness is about protecting yourself and those around you. However, since accidents can happen despite your best efforts, it’s important you’re outfitted with the right auto insurance policy. At TJ Woods Insurance, our agents have the expertise to match you with the auto insurance best suited to your needs. If you want to ensure you’re properly protected from the unexpected, contact us today.