It’s time for your road test in Halifax, and you’re wondering about how to manage your driving observations. How to scan and observe while driving is one of the most important skills you can master for your road-test in Halifax. A quick background, we are a driving school primarily serving Halifax, Nova Scotia. We have over 10 years of experience teaching, and 6 years of experience teaching Driver’s Ed. Our instructors have helped hundreds of new and experienced drivers become road-test ready in a short amount of time. In this article, we will share tips and ideas around driving observation which helps you score very well on your road test in Halifax.
The different types of observations while driving
The observations required by defensive drivers can be categorized into 3 main categories. I will list the different types for you here:
- Shoulder checking
- Mirror checks
The next thing we need to understand is the importance of each of these types of observations, and most importantly when to do each. As I often re-iterate, it is not just what you do, but also the timing of when you do it, that matters most. To explain this point further, I will share a story about a student on a road-test in Halifax.
“I swear I checked everywhere like you said!”Student on her road-test in Halifax
My student went on a road-test in Halifax, and we spoke after she was done completing her driver’s test. I was looking over her evaluation sheet as we do, to better understand where the student went wrong. It helps us to do this, because we can improve how we teach. But it also helps the student gauge a better understanding of their mistakes, so they can become a better, more defensive driver.
She had actually received 30 points on her road-test, which is luckily still a pass. The markings of the examiner indicated to me that my student had not shoulder-checked. The student insisted that she did, and yet as we always say, the driving examiner is always right. Why? because you are the new driver being examined, it will always be your word against the word of the examiner. This is why it’s so important to not only observe at the right time/ place, but also to do it in a way that your driving examiner can notice it.
You need to put your scanning and observation skills on display! How to scan and how to not…
One of the benefits of taking driving lessons with a professional driving instructor is that he can assess your driving skill, and tell you when you’re being too subtle. What I mean is that it’s unnoticeable that you scanned or shoulder-checked. At which point, you have to make an effort to do it as your driving instructor will demonstrate.
Funny enough, my student had in fact shoulder-checked and – she had done it too much. This student understood the importance of shoulder-checking, for safety reasons as well as for passing her road-test. She was however so scared of missing it, that she would often shoulder check 5-6 times. Why? because she did not yet grasp the timing, the correct moment when she has to do it.
When do we need to observe and what do we need to see?
Scanning means looking both ways, by turning your head from left to right and back to the left again. In driver’s ed terms, we refer to this type of as scanning as: left, centre, right, centre, and left. This method of scanning allows you to see and anticipate your cross traffic, in the form of vehicles running stop signs, red lights or pedestrians running across in your path. We need to scan and demonstrate our observational skills while driving, at 3 critical areas and they are as follows:
- Stop signs
- Traffic lights
In the above 3 scenarios, you have to be alert and observe, because otherwise accidents may happen. In fact most of the intersections that ever happen while driving, do happen at intersections. One issue that I notice with novice drivers in Halifax is that they scan with their eyes, and not with their head. I can ask a student “why are not scanning?,” and I may hear them reply, “I did.” To which I have to remind the student that if I don’t see them do it, it doesn’t count. So make sure to exaggerate and emphasize your scanning skills, so they are visible and obvious. Observing the road as such also makes it more likely for you to be able to see that pedestrian or cyclist in time to react as well.
So what does shoulder-checking while driving means?
There are areas on the right and left of your vehicle, which you are blind to as a driver. If you were to look into your mirrors, they indicate that it’s safe for you to go. However, as soon as you start to lane change for instance, you might hear someone honking at you. But why did they honk? and where were they? Most importantly, why were you not able to notice them? The reason is because most drivers rely only on checking their side mirrors, and not enough in their blind-spots by shoulder checking.
Such drivers feel that if there is someone in their blind-spot, that they would simply see them as they drive past – unfortunately, we know this isn’t true. In order to be aware of your blind-spots as a driver, you need to turn your head and look into the passenger side windows, just to your back. The backseat right passenger window would be your blind-spot to the right, and vice versa.
When is it important to observe our blind-spots while driving
The critical times to shoulder-check while driving are as follows:
- Lane changing
Before performing any of the above maneuvers, it’s important to shoulder-check and demonstrate doing so. As a driver, we are not always 100 percent aware, and we may not remember a car that we passed just a few seconds ago. In future articles, I will write about enhancing your awareness and your alertness health, so you can be a defensive driver. But for now, just please understand that situations change so often and we are not always aware of the changing taking place on the road due to one reason or another. For this reason, before we perform maneuvers such as lane changing, we must look into our blind-spots to make sure nobody is there, with whom we might have a conflict.
How and when to observe mirrors while driving
Simply put, our mirrors allow us to be aware of the ever changing traffic around us. The side mirrors show who may be in the lanes adjacent. The rear view mirror will show you who is directly behind you. Scanning and observing your mirrors while driving not only allows you to be aware of traffic. But also, it makes you feel more at peace as a driver as well. The reason is, because for a new driver, they may be imagining how the traffic might be, become afraid of what is non-existent and become either passive or reactive. As a defensive driver who knows how to scan and observe while driving, you become a proactive driver. so when must we scan and observe our mirrors while driving? every 4-6 seconds while driving, you will want to glance at your surrounding and refresh your awareness of the traffic around.
I hope that you now have a better understanding of the types of observations you need to practice and demonstrate on your road test in Halifax, and also in all practical driving situations. We want to minimize the chance of being in an accident, and avoiding all manners of injuries caused by vehicular accidents. By practicing driving with a professional instructor, you gain a more objective insight into your driving errors, and you can work towards finetuning them. Driving lessons are not just for new drivers, or those who have been in accidents, but for anyone interested in being a good defensive driver. By improving your driving skills, you avoid being in accidents and help make those who ride with you feel safe as well. So if you’re wondering how to scan and observe while driving in Halifax, I hope this article has been helpful.