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Are you guilty of looking but not seeing?

Ever heard of a driver who ended up in a ditch? Or motorists who ignore the red ‘X’ on smart highways? Why would any driver end up in a troublesome situation on purpose? Blindly following the sat nav perhaps?

Satellite navigation problems

OK, so why do these things occur? Suppose you drive to a friend’s house. They just moved and you don’t know where you are going, so you turn on your sat-nav in the hope of an easy journey. After faithfully following the directions, you find yourself turning into a field and stopping by a pond. You don’t get it, as this is most certainly not where your friend lives. So, what is happening?

Well, even something as fast as satellite navigation technology makes occasional mistakes. If it looks wrong, then it might be wrong, so don’t distract yourself from the road to look at your sat-nav screen longer than needed – be sure to continue scanning the road up ahead and feel what you hear and see.

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Ignore the signs

Maybe you will say that, but what about the red ‘X’ on the highway? And heavy flood water? Surely anyone who fails to obey the big ‘closed road’ sign chooses to deliberately ignore it?

It’s true to say that people will do this. After all, there is always someone who thinks the rules don’t apply to them. But, ‘attitude’ is not the whole story. Sometimes the driver does not see signs (they look but don’t really see the signs or understand what they mean. This is particularly dangerous for road maintenance workers who rely on drivers to have their wits about them and follow emergency signage and see the reflective livery. For more information about Chapter 8 Chevrons for your fleet, visit

Following the wrong direction

To explain this, think of a magician who does card tricks. This may not be a trick, but magicians still need to use all their knowledge to distract the audience. The magician uses a distraction to focus the audience’s attention on what one hand is doing, making the other hand unnoticed when performing tricks.

The idea that something can be ‘hidden in plain sight’ informs many thoughts about the perception of danger. Sometimes we keep driving because our ability to process the information we receive is limited by factors such as speed, traffic conditions, attitude, interference and fatigue. There may not be card magicians in front of us, but there are plenty of other opportunities to divert our attention from the road.

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The trick to overcoming this problem is to stay alert and take reasonable precautions. If you feel low on energy, then pull over in a safe place to rest. If you feel that you are listening more to the radio than concentrating on the road, switch it off. In the same way, if you pass a traffic sign and fail to see it, then you will most likely not know there is a wait until you meet the queued traffic. Continue scanning in front of and around your vehicle, because that way you will get the instructions you need to anticipate danger.

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