The Driving Dynamics “SEE the Advantage System™” takes information gathered from years of research about the causes of crashes and helps drivers develop habits to avoid them. This system includes both an effective, advanced defensive driving strategy and critical vehicle control skills for drivers of all vehicle types.
In this blog, we’ll focus on the advanced defensive driving strategy component called SEE. This is an easy to remember acronym encouraging drivers to regularly use the SEE three-step process to anticipate potential traffic hazards and respond in a safe manner. They are:
- Search for hazards
- Evaluate the risk
- Execute a plan
Developing strong skills in each helps drivers to better manage risk by driving in such a way that they create a safety cushion around their vehicle of time and space. These extra feet of space and a few seconds of time can make the difference between safely avoiding a dangerous situation and becoming involved with a crash.
The SEE the Advantage System™ is a cornerstone of Driving Dynamics training that helps drivers better manage hazardous situations and help companies improve risk management in the area of driver safety.
Three Categories of the SEE the Advantage System
The three categories of the SEE the Advantage System™ allows drivers to improve in the key areas of good driving: self-control, decision-making, situational awareness and competent vehicle control.
Search for Hazards
This first component of SEE focuses on eliminating or reducing risk with how drivers search and the time and space they create for their vehicle. Search starts with a commitment to scanning aggressively for potential hazards, giving drivers necessary information to make smart divisions and take proper action.
Good drivers develop a consistent search pattern with their eyes. Good search skills include the ability to clearly see what is directly in front of the vehicle as well as using mirrors as part of a search pattern, giving drivers a view of what is behind and next to their vehicle. This requires ensuring that mirrors are set up to eliminate blind spots.
There are four primary categories in search. The importance of each depends on the conditions around the vehicle, so drivers should shift focus as the situation demands.
- Traffic control devices and markings
- Road characteristics and surface conditions
- Environmental conditions
- Other highway users
Search skills are especially critical around intersections, which is where many crashes occur. As they approach intersections, drivers should search for traffic from behind, oncoming traffic that might turn left, as well as traffic from the left and right.
The evaluate component involves efficiently and accurately evaluating the information gathered from searching and using it to choose the safest course of action in any situation. Evaluation includes the ability to anticipate problems based on the visual information. A fundamental rule to remember when evaluating information is that getting the best results requires predicting the worst possible outcome. For example, it makes for safer choices when drivers predict:
- A green traffic light will soon change to red
- The curve is sharper than it looks
- Another vehicle will enter their space
Drivers should consider hazards in three categories when they evaluate information. Traffic control devices and markings. Drivers should know their responsibilities regarding traffic flow. However, they should not count on other drivers having an awareness of traffic lights, stop signs, flashing warning lights, and other traffic control devices.
Road characteristics and surface conditions. Drivers should take into consideration all aspects of a roadway. That includes the terrain, the number of curves, the type of roadway, the number of lanes, whether it’s a one-way or two-way street, crowned or banked, or if the shoulder area provides a minimal or large amount of space to maneuver. The condition of the road is also a factor, as well as the presence or lack of guardrails, bridges, poles, signposts and roadside vegetation.
Other road users. Drivers should also monitor the behavior of other drivers, evaluating how they might impact their own speed, lane position or path of travel with any sudden maneuver. By considering this in advance, drivers give themselves more time to react in case you need to do so.
Properly searching and evaluating your surroundings is key to safe driving, but it’s all for nothing without the ability to safely execute a maneuver when the situation calls for it. Mastering this ability requires starting with learning and practicing how to look, steer and brake your vehicle in a hazardous situation. Driving Dynamics “One Second Advantage” techniques, part of SEE the Advantage System, equip drivers with these critical safety skills.
A lack of these driving skills will result in a loss of the safety cushion that properly evaluating a situation will provide. Some of the common mistakes drivers make between evaluating a situation and executing a plan to avoid danger include the following.
- Pausing or second-guessing what to do
- Not adjusting speed - accelerating, slowing or stopping - to avoid a hazard
- Failing to adjust position, such as changing lanes, when the situation calls for it
- Not looking where they want to go during your course of action
- Not coordinating steering and braking, which are not mutually exclusive
- Not having an escape route planned out from scanning the roadway during the evaluate phase
With the SEE the Advantage System™, drivers learn how to evaluate their surroundings continuously and accurately. It is not about “guessing.” The strategy gives drivers the ability to evaluate outcomes based on their own actions, the actions of other drivers and the environment around them.