Vision In High Performance Driving
The first in a series of articles about tips for the High Performance Driver by Ross Bentley, Chief Instructor for the ProFormance Advanced Driving School, Inc.
First, let’s define the ‘High Perfor mance driver’. This is not someone who races around the streets at high speed. This person is not necessarily a race car driver. Being a ‘High Perfor mance driver’ means many things: always driving in control of your vehi cle and the situations and conditions around you; always driving smoothly and with finesse; being confident and sympathetic; and always thinking about what you’re doing behind the wheel.
Your mental attitude is extremely important in developing your driving skills. It is necessary to keep an open mind about driving. You should always feel there is something more to learn. The best ‘High Performance drivers’ are always the ones who are ready to learn something new every time they get behind the wheel.
Driving in control means being aware of everything and everyone around you, especially in congested areas. Not only should you be watch ing in front of you, but also knowing what is beside and behind you. Use your mirrors regularly. Being aware of the conditions behind and beside you may allow you to avoid potentially dangerous situations by anticipating or by reacting quickly.
Which leads us to vision; or should I say vision leads us.
If a rating figure could be placed on the various human systems required to drive a car, your eyes would have to rank number one. If you cannot see, you cannot drive. At least ninety percent of what takes place in our vehicle is a result of what our eyes report to our brain. So, rule number one is: Never overdrive your vision!
One of the first steps in refining your driving skills is learning to look further ahead. Although your hands and arms steer the car, your eyes tell you what to do. Your eyes actually lead your physical movement. Therefore, focus your eyes where you want to go, not where you don’t want to go or where you are! If there is an object on the road you want to avoid, such as a rock or manhole cover, don’t look at it-if you do, you’ll hit it. Focus your eyesjust to the right or left of it and the car will automatically go there.
As you drive, sit up and keep your head in a normal position. When you turn, move your head from side to side, but do not lean, or tip it. Your brain is used to receiving information from your eyes in the normal position. If this is changed, you are mentally fooling your brain. Curbs, pedestrians or other cars are not actually where you perceive them to be, and can often end up under your car.
And finally, do not concentrate on any one particular object in front of you. Look well ahead, and watch for anything coming into your overall field of vision. Pay attention all the time. And don’t just look further ahead, think farther ahead.
In future issues we will deal with everything from shifting basics to skid control and the ideal cornering line. I look forward to (vision, remember!) assisting you in refining your driving skills.
ProFormance Advanced Driving School, Inc.
This article was originally published in the September/October 1988 edition of Zundfolge