There are times during your driving career where you will be required to drive through narrow spaces. They can be unnerving to the novice and sometimes, even the experienced driver. Most common instances usually involve construction barriers and equipment sticking out into the lane on either side ahead of you.
One of the early secrets about driving that you should make yourself aware of is to look high when operating a motor vehicle. It does several things, the biggest being, it gives you the overall picture of where you are heading. It provides a wide view of your surroundings, the ability to see into the distance, to see traffic actions of those coming towards or on either side of you as well as the surface of the road ahead. Without specifically looking, your eyes will even catch some of the movement in the mirrors available to you.
I have no idea how many of you have ever flown in the cockpit of an aircraft as it approaches a runway for a landing. The feeling can be scary. Running through your mind is, how is this great big plane going to fit on this little, narrow strip of asphalt on the ground?
There is a particular roadway where I have experienced the same sensation. Perhaps some of you have crossed the Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel in Virginia. http://www.cbbt.com/about-us/facts/ Over 20 miles long, you drive on an elevated highway over the sea. At a couple of spots it goes up great heights to allow tall ships to travel underneath and at two other spots, the road travels down, actually going under the water in tunnels so the ships can pass over the top. It’s that slope going down that gives you that same feeling. How am I going to fit into that tiny black hole in the ocean at the end of the highway below? It’s numbered Highway #13 if you happen to be superstitious.
Amazingly, you make it and come out on the other side. If you are on vacation and in a car, you swing off at the far end to a little parking lot where you get out and have a look back across at where you’ve been. The parking lots are small.
There is a small trick to overcoming that unease. In that situation, logic tells you that you are going to fit. All the traffic that has gone before you on that highway has fit so therefore it is big enough for you too. All the logic in the world won’t help you if you don’t know how big the hole is in relation to the size of what you are driving.
Here is the answer. If you don’t think you will fit, come to a safe stop before you reach the narrow point. If, however, things are dynamic as they often are when you are driving and you need to squeeze into a rapidly closing space, look up. Whether your vehicle actually fits or it doesn’t, you’ll have the best chance of centering the vehicle into the hole by looking up. If you whack the sides, you’ll whack both equally and have the best chance of staying straight while careening through.
By looking up, your brain automatically figures out where the center of the hole is and you’ll aim for it. Keep your eyes up and never look at either edge because you will likely drive into and hit that edge if you do. If the hole is actually big enough, you will probably squeeze through. If not, you may take the outside edges off the sides of your vehicle but the majority should travel through the center of the hole providing you with the best possible chance of survival. Of course, there are no guarantees!
So many things can be in play here. If the hole has been created by other vehicles, they will also likely still be moving and whatever has the most size, force and weight usually come out the winner. Regardless, always keep steering afterward and stay in your vehicle until everything has come to a complete stop!
Where I began here, was talking about construction barriers, the most common narrow restricted area we come across. Chances are that those barriers will be wide enough to fit your vehicle. As you approach, back-off increasing your space-cushion ahead and while traveling through, keep your eyes up and your vehicle will stay centered. Let nothing else distract you.
Some of those narrow single lane construction areas bounded by concrete barriers can go on for miles. Keep concentrating on your driving and keep your eyes up. You’ll likely be just fine.
Keep your people safe.
The beauty of life is in your hands.
THINK SAFETY ……… EVERYWHERE ……….. ALL THE TIME
About the Author
Your Old Uncle Nicky’s Opinions
Nick Nicholson, is a retired safety practitioner who spent many years researching the human behaviour factors of driver and pedestrian actions. Specifically, he spent 25 of those years devoted to highway crash investigations, regulatory compliance, the design, implementation and presentation of safety programs. Nick enjoyed many hours presenting professional driver enhancement training to adult participants.
As a long time Fleet Safety Council Member (1988) and the Founding Chair (1992-1995) of Council’s Hamilton-Niagara Chapter, he presents his opinions in hopes of improving the safety knowledge of readers. Nick is a firm believer in human advancement through positive attitudes, solution thinking and the understanding that the beauty of life is always in your hands.
Old Uncle Nicky’s Opinions are his own and in no way reflect the opinions of Fleet Safety Council.