The Importance of Searching

The essence of defensive driving revolves around the idea of being prepared for what other drivers may or may not do on the road. This concept is not new but the importance of being a defensive driver cannot be overstated. Drivers who practice defensive driving are less likely to get into an automobile accident.

There are many parts to being a defensive driver, from getting the right amount of sleep to the use of drugs and alcohol. Searching and scanning are both key elements to defensive driving, but they have different uses. In this blog we are going to focus our attention of searching, and why it is important.

Searching refers to where our eyes are looking at key times as drivers. There are specific times that a driver must be completing searches of the roadway. When backing out of a parking space the driver of the vehicle must be looking at the area directly behind the vehicle, the rear and left of the vehicle, to the rear and right of the vehicle, and to the sides of the vehicle.

An experienced driver will complete these searches quickly and consistently as they are backing out of a parking space. This allows the driver the most amount of current information as they continue to back out of the space.

If the driver does not continually complete these searches a vehicle that they did not see when the driver first started to back out of the space may in fact be in an area that could cause a collision between the two vehicles.

Searching is not limited to backing up, but is completed before, during and after a driving maneuver.

  • When a driver is approaching an intersection, the driver needs to begin the process of searching.
  • As the driver approaches the intersection they will look left and right, whether the driver believes they have the right-away or a green light they still will complete the search to the left and to the right.
  • Just prior to entering the intersection the driver will again look to the left and to the right. The driver is searching for vehicles who may not be paying attention, not slowing at the intersection, or driving erratically.
  • The driver will also be looking for other dangers like pedestrians, bicyclists, etc. Then after the driver leaves the intersection, they will complete a search of what is behind them using the side and/or rearview mirror.

When completing a driving maneuver, including changing lanes, going through intersections, merging, or backing the driver must complete specific searches. It does not matter if the driver believes they have the right of way or if they believe another driver has the right of way the driver must search before, during, and after the maneuver.

The habit of searching must be practiced and completed all the time. It is particularly important for young and/or inexperienced drivers to get in the habit of searching as soon as the start driving.

Community Driving School is focused on the habit of searching and places a huge emphasis on this habit. We believe it to be one of the most important habits of a defensive driver!