Driving takes great concentration. Focusing on the road, other drivers, objects in the roadway and wildlife takes a lot of energy. There are times when we go driving brainlessly down the road as a part of our routine. Maybe we were just tired, but we get to our destination and can’t really remember the drive. How do you keep driving while being alert?
As police officers, we are taught to drive with “keeping your head on a swivel” looking all around. Expecting the unexpected, we look at everything around us continuously with an expectation that something is going to be different. We look for differences in color, contrast and movement. We let our eyes search for those differences and we begin to spot the driver who rolls through the stop sign (before he hits us). We see the color of the small license tags that have been out of date for over a year. We see the bright face of a child as they bounce up and down on the back seat without wearing the proper safety seat. Officers are taught to be alert while driving.
One of the questions that get asked frequently during defensive driving classes is “how do I keep from being tired during a boring drive?” Playing the “What If? Game” is a large part of staying focused and alert. Seeing a situation ahead and asking yourself what would happen if … happens? Seeing a deer ahead on the side of the road, you would ask yourself “What if the deer jumped over to the middle of my lane; what action would I take? You ask yourself, “What would happen if that driver starts to swerve over into my lane?” By constantly asking and answering the situations around you, you stay alert and ready for anything that comes your way. If you need to stop and pull over, take a few minutes to get outside the vehicle and stretch.
Alertness is one driving skill that we have to practice constantly to make our driving safer, saving time and money in the process. The Southern Ute Police Department wishes you to have a safer time on the road.