confident-driverForward Planning…

One of the most important skills you need as a safe driver.

A couple of times now I’ve spoken about the inspiration I find, when driving along the A127 into Southend on Sea. This post has arisen from the same place. Coming from the experience of driving in an average speed check area and interacting with other road users as I did so. Now I don’t really want to talk about the fiesta driver who kept drifting  lanes yesterday – needless to say I found myself concentrating on their car-one vehicle space in front of me-due to their erratic behaviour. As they kept breaking sharply when not close to any vehicle in front.Their behaviour had my instincts on extra alert and it led me to thinking about this topic. Forward planning definitely felt a necessity in this situation.


The art of forward planning arises from the ability to assess the driving conditions and road you are travelling on.

Remember: You can practice this even before you step into a car to learn to drive.

When you walk along a road begin, to take notice of what is happening around you and up in front of you as far as your eyes can see. Obviously at this point you don’t have a rear view mirror, so you can’t check what is going on behind you. We’ll leave that learning until you are in the car!

Think about what you can see whilst keeping your eyes moving. Do not concentrate on any single point . What can you see as you look into the distance that may either become a hazard or cause a difficult situation?

You see – already you have began forward planning and are getting into the habit of taking more notice of what is around you, before you even start to think about doing this, plus developing your clutch control or getting to know the gear changes, as you learn to drive. Already you are creating a positive driving habit.

This is the distance you need to take into consideration. In order to gather information about what is happening on the road ahead of you-in your direct periphery and behind your vehicle.

Don’t Panic…

Of course when you first begin learning to drive, your instructor will initially be taking into account the road ahead, whilst you concentrate on learning how to use the car controls and the road within your immediate vicinity. The driving instructor will initially be forward planning for you, as you get to grips with the practical part of driving.


Your Driving Instructor will not expect perfection, but will expect you to gradually develop a helpful level of anticipation as you progress as a learner driver. To effectively anticipate a hazard you must be fully aware of your surroundings. Something the chappie on the motorbike in front of me at Noaks Bridge yesterday wasn’t, when he scuffed the curb with his tyre, whilst looking at his mobile phone!

Needless to say I was on red alert- had slowed my speed to enable me to brake if necessary. Keeping to mind the road speed, traffic around me, I lengthened the distance between his and my vehicle. In case this potential hazard, turned into an actual accident.

Typical situations needing anticipation and forward planning:

  • Pedestrian crossings – traffic light controlled pedestrian crossings that have pedestrians waiting as you approach are likely to change. Keep a look out for waiting pedestrians well ahead of your position, as you get closer, you may also see the ‘wait’ light illuminated on the crossing control board which will give you another clue that it may change.
  • Parked cars – anticipate having to give way to oncoming vehicles if the parked cars are on your side of the road. If parked cars are on other side of the road, anticipate having to slow down or stop to allow an oncoming vehicle to manoeuvre into a space between cars.
  • Cyclists – cyclists can be unpredictable, especially near junctions. Anticipate a cyclist changing direction with little or no warning to other vehicles and provide them with as much room as possible.
  • Emergency vehicles – you may hear the sirens of an emergency vehicle but it can be difficult to know where they are coming from. Continuously check ahead and in mirrors and be prepared to pull over to allow a clear path.
  • Pedestrians – watch out for pedestrians near junctions and crossroads where they intend on crossing the road. They can be unpredictable so be prepared for them crossing in front of you. Stop and give way to them if necessary. Be especially cautious of the very young and old. Youngsters can often be prepared to take unnecessary risks and the old may simple not see you.
  • Eye contact – try to maintain eye contact with other drivers. For example a driver who is waiting to turn in front of you, if they are looking elsewhere and not at you, they may not be aware of you and could possibly make that turn regardless of your presence.
  • Vehicles moving off – look for signs that a vehicle could intend on moving off from a parked position into your path. This could be a vehicle indicating, slowly moving forward and/or turning their wheels into the road.
  • Roundabouts – when approaching a closed roundabout (one that is difficult to see traffic approaching or going round it from a distance), always anticipate and assume you will need to give way to a vehicle on the right. Plan by slowing down in plenty of time and to be at an approach speed slow enough to stop safely.
  • Motorcyclists – motorcyclists have a tendency to move past you, especially in slow moving traffic. Frequent mirror checks will help you spot motorcyclists approaching from the rear. Either move over slightly to allow the motorcyclist more room if safe to do so or remain in your current road position.

All tips above are from Driving Test Tips

The learning involved in anticipation and forward planning will constantly grow and develop – as you grow and develop as a driver. My husband – a former driving instructor with A Pass 4 U – told me the learning should never stop.

Forward planning your way to becoming an excellent driver is not a goal but a need – one that enable you and others to drive safely on our british roads.”Let’s be careful out there.”