The importance of reading the road ahead can never be understated – after all how can we deal with a hazard if we don’t see it? It’s beyond obvious to state that the sooner you are aware of a hazard, the sooner you can deal with it. For this reason we are constantly reminded of the need to be reading the road ahead and scanning the far, middle and near distances (not forgetting rear observation and awareness as well of course).
Aside from hazard awareness and perception, this month’s clip is a sobering reminder never to anything for granted. Just because we play by the rules and are complying with the laws of the road and generally accepted road use principles, doesn’t mean it is safe to assume everybody else is.
The clip, taken from the cab of an HGV via dash cam, shows a car driving the wrong way down the M6 motorway near Lancaster. Whilst this is clearly both dangerous and illegal, there could be any number of possible explanations, including ill health on the part of the driver – whatever the reason, it makes no difference to the need to spot the hazard in plenty of time and mitigate the risk. The key issue here is one of awareness and hazard perception. By reading the road far into the distance, any vehicle following the HGV would have seen the headlights of the car travelling the wrong way and taken the obvious avoiding action.
Fortunately, whatever the reason for the driver driving the wrong way up the motorway was, no injuries were caused – but the situation could have been tragic if any relevant vehicle not been aware of the hazard.
Observation is key to the I of IPSGA (information). By reading the road ahead, and gathering information as soon as it is available a greater period of time can be secured to deal with the hazard and take appropriate action.
It is no coincidence that the first word on the cover of Roadcraft is “observation”, and that the book itself dedicates a whole chapter (or 14% of the page count) to the all-important topic of observation. Similarly, “How to be a better rider”gives great prominence to both hazards and observation – all of which is vital reading for any thinking rider.
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