Staying Alert

Staying alert is all part of driving. But had I not been alert, or traveling faster, this situation could have been very different...

I've just picked my son up from his grans, we were all belted up, and just started our journey back home. I was asking my son questions about his time with his gran, driving along a road I've driven on many times (I once lived on that same stretch of road) driving past a row of parked cars when suddenly....

(click play for the video NOTE: Video is 10mb, you may be charger if viewing on mobile devices)

It was a close one. However I was alert and traveling at the conditions of the road and traffic. Their was little clues as to what was about to happen. But as an Advanced Driver, I knew that I need to keep my speed down while driving past parked vehicles - and it paid off.
But let's think for a moment about distractions. Although I was listening to my son, once the girl came out between the car, all conversation stopped. What if I was on the phone? What if a text message came through and I looked up at the phone? What if I was selecting music on the phone or infotainment system? What if I looked back at the back seat to check something, like another child or my dog?

What if...?

Looking back at the video, their was one clue that could have given away what could have (and indeed did happen)

Having installed my dash cam some time ago, I have used it for insurance purposes having witnessed an accident. I have uploaded to you tube other drivers mistakes or dangerous Manoeuvers. And when incidents happen I do look back at the footage and ask, what could I have done better? After all, as an Advanced Driver, we know that we never stop learning from our mistakes. We all make mistakes.

Looking back at the video, their was one clue that could have given away what could have (and indeed did happen). The child on the bike couldn't be seen at all throughout the approach - so it's not the lack of forward observations. I was able to stop in time, so speed was correct for the situation. I was fully in control and alert, hence I stopped. The clue I missed was the girl on the other side of the road, on her scooter. She looks back and over the road. So she's not on her own. So where is her friend? That's right, about to cycle out in front of me. 

The child on the scooter should have been a clue.

It's a subtle clue, but an important one. And one lesson that I will take away, and share with all.
It's true that the most dangerous road you drive on is the regular ones you know well. That doesn't mean however we give it less attention then any other road. Otherwise if I did, this journey would have been very different for both myself and the little girl on the bike.

Stay alert. 

Video Analysis 

  • 19mph = 8.49metres per second 
  • Girl came into view approx 2 car lengths away 
  • The silver Volvo is 4.6 metres and the black BMW 4.6 metres, let's assume 1 metre parking between them - that's 10.4 metres.
  • From moment girl came into view to vehicle stopping was 1.2 seconds at a speed of 19mph. 
  • I stopped short of the girl by approximately 1 metre

What if... i was traveling at 30mph?

  • At 30mph I would have been traveling at 13.41 metres per second 
  • Therefore, assuming same reaction time, I would have stopped in 15.76 metres. The girl was approximately 10-11 metres away. 

What if... I was looking at my phone texting

  • I may not looked up at the road for anything unto 4.5 seconds (info here
  • At 19 mph I would have traveled 38 metres - the girl was only 10-11 metres away.

Posted by Graham Aylard-Poxon. Graham is an Advanced Driver and a National Observer for the Kent Group of Advanced Motorist. For more information about the Kent Group visit


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