Searching means looking at the entire scene for anything that might come into your path. As you search the road, avoid staring at one thing. Keep your eyes moving and learn to read the road and your surroundings.

Looking ahead will help you identify risks early and provide you with more time to react. Expert drivers try to focus their eyes 20 to 30 seconds ahead. In the city, that equals approximately one block. Avoid staring at the middle of the road. Scan from side to side, checking for traffic signs and signals, cars or people that might be in the road by the time you reach them.

Search for clues on the road. Look for exhaust smoke, brake or back-up lights and turned wheels on vehicles. Clues like these warn that the vehicles may pull into your path. Watch for pedestrians, bicyclists and other slow moving vehicles that may be in the road ahead.

When driving in rural areas, watch for hidden intersections and driveways, curves, hills and different road conditions. Watch for other vehicles, especially trucks, oversized and slow-moving farm vehicles, and bicycles.

Check from left to right and then left again before entering an intersection. Whenever you reach a place in the road where other cars, people or animals may cross your path, look both ways to be sure it is clear. These include intersections, crosswalks, shopping centers, construction areas and playgrounds. At any intersection, look to the left first, since cars coming from the left will be closer to you. Then look to the right and take one more quick look to the left before you drive through.

Look behind. Use your rearview mirror to check the traffic behind you frequently, about every 10 seconds. This will alert you if someone is moving up too quickly or tailgating you. Check the traffic behind you when changing lanes, backing up, slowing down quickly or driving down a long, steep hill.

Blind Spots

Blind spots are danger areas that cannot be seen in the mirrors on either or both sides of the vehicle. The best way to see a car in your blind spot is by quickly turning your head and glancing over your shoulder to ensure the way is clear before changing lanes or passing another vehicle. Avoid driving in someone else’s blind spot. This can be just as dangerous as not checking your own blind spot. Speed up or drop back; but, don’t stay in the other driver’s blind spot.

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