How Your Senses Affect Your Driving

Photo by  Min An  from  Pexels

Photo by Min An from Pexels

Almost anyone with a driver's license knows that driving (or even riding) can be very tiring. Not only does it tire us out physically, but it can also be tiring emotionally as well. One reason for this is that driving requires us to activate all of our senses at the same time, putting ourselves in a heightened state of alertness. Senses like sight, hearing, and even smell all have to be at their best while we're operating automobiles. That's why it's always harmful to distract or hinder any of these senses, as it makes it difficult for us to drive our cars safely and efficiently.

In this article, we're going to look at how our senses can affect our ability to drive. In doing so, we'll also look at common ways people hinder these senses, and how that can be dangerous when driving.

"Keep your eyes on the road" is one of the first things our parents and instructors tell us to do when driving. What they mean is that we should always have our eyes in the direction that our car is moving. Doing this ensures that we know where we're going at all times and that we can avoid hitting anything and causing damage or injury. On a more sophisticated level, our sense of sight does a lot more to ensure we're driving safely and efficiently. Our ability to see is crucial while driving because it helps us spot dangers, both immediate dangers and those in the distance that we can avoid well in advance. For example, we may notice a massive accident taking place further down the road, or in a split second, we may spot a rock flying right at our windscreen. In both cases, clear and focused eyesight allows us to react in time and avoid these dangers, either by slowing down or by changing directions.

Our sense of hearing is equally important, as it allows us to sense what is happening around us. While we point our eyes on the road, our listening can help us sense other dangers happening to the sides or the rear of the vehicle. For example, other drivers may honk at us if we are drifting out of our lanes towards them. Sometimes, we can hear it when a car is coming too close to us on either side. In the case of emergency vehicles, we can hear sirens and know immediately to move to the side and make way for them.

For this reason, it's quite dangerous to wear headphones or earphones on both ears while listening to music inside the car. With something blocking our ears and flooding it with music, we lose our ability to hear for ambient noises and maintain our awareness of what's going on around us. When listening to the radio while driving, on the other hand, at least we're still able to hear what's happening outside the car.

Believe it or not, your sense of smell can also come in quite handy sometimes. A keen sense of smell can help notice unusual smells or odours that signal something terrible happening to the car. For example, strange smells can indicate to you that your engine or even your brakes may be overheating. Noticing a damp smell may mean that somehow water keeps getting into your car when it rains. Or as a lesser example, your sense of smell may let you know that the cabin's air filters are dirty and need to be changed soon. In any case, your nose can help you figure out when an issue emerges, and you need to drive to your preferred workshop for an inspection.

But how might your sense of touch figure into all of this? Well, think of it this way: your car is an extension of your body.  Every day, you drive the vehicle at the same time, following the same routes to and from school, the office, and home. Thanks to this repetition, it's easy for you to feel when your car is behaving differently. With your sense of touch, you could notice a small vibration in your steering wheel that wasn't happening before. Perhaps your vehicle suddenly starts creaking  whenever you go over a speedbump. In these situations, it's your sense of touch that alerts you to something in your car that requires your attention. 

And what about your sense of taste? Well, by right, your mouth shouldn't be pressed up against any part of your car, so perhaps this is one of your senses that might not help when it comes to driving. But as for all the others, be mindful of how they help you be a safer and more efficient driver and learn to use your senses to your advantage!