Risk Awareness When Driving

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September 05, 2023

Risk awareness is the ability to detect, identify and react to a risky situation while driving.

A risky situation is one that leads the driver to be alert to an unforeseen event that may force a decision such as the need to alter speed, course, or direction. In other words, a situation, either actual or potential, that may force us to slow down, brake, swerve, or change direction.

Risk awareness and perception is an important skill for all drivers, but it is something which is easily forgotten or replaced with complacency, and so must be a focus at all times, not only for vehicle drivers, but for all road users, including the most vulnerable, such as pedestrians, children and the elderly, cyclists, etc.

It is important to be aware of the importance of risk perception in driving:

To make all road users aware of the importance of this ability to avoid incidents.

The greater ability to perceive risks is related to a lower probability of having an incident. It has also been defined as the ability of some drivers to "read the road".

Experienced drivers are able to perceive risks earlier and more accurately than novice drivers, but experienced drivers are also more likely than novice drivers to be complacent. That is why this skill must be trained and acquired to achieve safe driving, and then maintained.

10 tips that will help you improve your risk perception:

  • When you approach a pedestrian crossing, slow down and give way.


  • Pay extra attention when you see a child running near the road or a ball in the middle of it, it is possible that a child may unexpectedly cross your path.


  • Observe and adhere to road signs, making sure you also look on roads you frequent, as the signs may change.


  • Be careful near people with disabilities and the elderly, they have less mobility and need more time to react to danger.


  • Always drive at a speed which will allow you to stop well within the distance you can see to be clear, and adjust your driving to suit weather and road conditions.


  • We must slow down and leave enough space (minimum 1.5 m) when we overtake cyclists, taking extreme care if the road is narrow or visibility is reduced. One roads with two or more lanes, we must move entirely over to the second lane to overtake.


  • Be careful with motorbikes and the vehicles that surround them since they can come to stop abruptly in the face of danger. Also be aware of vehicles such as buses or other vehicles which have stopped, as people may emerge.


  • Look ahead along the path or the road, even beyond what you can see in front of you, by looking for structures such as streetlights or buildings to anticipate the road ahead.


  • Use reflections such as shop windows to obtain a clearer view of parts of the road that may not be immediately clear.


  • If you witness a situation that you consider risky, back away and ease off your speed to allow more space to manoeuvre if needed.

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