Using your Eyes Effectively

Gathering information with your eyes is called visual perception. Safe driving depends on your ability to notice many things at once.

To get the right information to the brain, a drivers eyes have to move constantly and pick out the appropriate spots at the right time.

Driver looking ahead

Our eyes provide two types of visions:

  • Central vision
  • Peripheral or side vision
Central vision

Our central vision covers about three degrees of our visual field and peripheral vision, or side vision, covers the rest. The three degrees of central vision is a very small area in your total field of vision. But central vision allows us to make very important judgments like estimating distance and understanding details in the path ahead.

Our peripheral vision is not as sharp as central vision, but it is more sensitive to light and motion. That's a good thing because it helps us detect events to the side that are important to us, even when we're not looking directly at them. Events like cars entering our field of vision from the side, or warning lights from ambulances, police cars, and other emergency vehicles are all observed using peripheral vision.

City Traffic

Central vision plus side vision make up the entire visual field, which is the main source of information that all drivers need for safe driving. Most driving mistakes are caused by bad habits in the way drivers use their eyes.

Driver, keep your eyes moving

1. AIM HIGH—Look ahead, not down. The experienced drivers attention is focused on the road ahead with his or her central vision following the intended path of travel.
2. KEEP YOUR EYES MOVING—A good driver concentrates on selecting details in the traffic scene.
3. GET THE BIG PICTURE—Search the whole scene; check the rearview mirrors. Source: Using Your Eyes Effectively, a movie by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety

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