AARP Driving Resource Center

Scanning — a Smart Driving Technique

Scanning helps drivers remain alert and prepared

Scanning is a way to view the “total traffic scene” as you drive. It prevents tunnel vision, which can isolate you from what is going on in the distance as well as all around your vehicle.

See also: 10 Strategies for Highway Driving

Scanning helps drivers remain alert and be prepared for hazards or traffic conflicts ahead.

The elements of scanning

  • Looking at least a block ahead (city driving) or a quarter-mile ahead (suburban or rural driving)
  • Glancing slightly to the left and right of the roadway to look for approaching danger from cross streets, or animals or children darting into the roadway
  • Checking your rearview and side view mirrors every five to eight seconds
  • Turning to look over either shoulder to check your blind spots, especially before changing lanes

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