By maintaining a good visual lead, you are able to identify and take action early so you can adjust your speed and space. The main objective is to maintain the greatest possible space around your vehicle.
Constantly ask yourself questions and make up possible scenarios in your head. Some examples:
- What if the driver in front of you slams on his brakes for no apparent reason (an animal runs into the roadway, he blows a tire, etc.)?
- What if the approaching vehicle drifts into your lane?
- Will somebody run the red light or stop sign up ahead?
You should constantly be mentally asking yourself these kinds of questions while you drive. We already do this subconsciously, but actually thinking the situation through will make you much safer. Unfortunately, you are forced to share the road with people who don’t take driving safety seriously. That’s why you must always leave yourself an out in case the worst happens. Having an escape plan is crucial to your safety.
Leaving Yourself An Out
As a real word example, you should try not to drive directly next to somebody. If someone pulls up beside you and matches their speed to yours, either speed up or slow down so that the lane next to you is clear. That way, if you need to swerve somewhere, you have a place to go. What if you can’t use the lane next to you? Where will you go if something happens? Maybe the shoulder is an option. If not, you might need to increase your following distance so you have some additional stopping distance. Again, always have a plan!