Those who commute by automobiles: Please read this airline pilot’s cogent advice
This PDF contains (in some detail) some excellent advice that will greatly help you avoid those accidents in which a car “came out of nowhere” (i.e., it came from one of the blind spots he discusses). It begins:
A Fighter Pilot’s Guide to Surviving on the Roads…
John Sullivan is a Royal Air Force pilot with over 4000 flight hours, and a keen cyclist. He regards himself as ‘a simple fighter-pilot’ and in this article he describes why collisions can occur and, in layman’s terms, how some of the techniques of flying fighters can be used to increase your chances of survival on the roads. All proceeds from this article are going to charity.
Who hasn’t formed these thoughts, or similar, at some point while cycling or driving? Probably in response to a vehicle that had just moved directly into your path – and you might congratulate yourself that only your alertness and superior reactions saved the day. If you were cycling then I expect that you may have even shared your thoughts, loudly, with the offending driver, and if you were driving then I imagine that there would have been some accompaniment from the horn section. Hopefully you were able to prevent the collision.
Now, before we go on, who can say that, at some point in their own driving history, they have not been about to manoeuvre – pull out from a T-junction, etc – when a car or bike seemed to come out of nowhere? Hopefully, it was just a close shave, and no doubt quite frightening. You may have wondered how you failed to see it, and probably concluded that they must have been driving ‘far too fast’ or you would have seen them. Perhaps, on such an occasion, you were the recipient of that loud and urgent query, ‘Are you blind?!!’
Well, here’s the bad news – yes, you are. For small but significant periods of time you are completely incapable of seeing anything at all. Most of the time, as I shall explain, this is not a problem. But if it means that you fail to see a vehicle that is just about to occupy the same point in space and time as you are – then this is a big problem!
The good news is that understanding why we sometimes do not see things allows us to adopt some defensive strategies that tip the odds back in our favour. This article then, is a fighter pilot’s survival guide to avoiding collisions…