One important aspect of risk management on the road is maintaining sufficient space around your vehicle at all times. A large area kept clear around a moving vehicle shows evidence of other driving skills such as planning and anticipation. As drivers we have come to see the car as our own personal space and we seek to protect it. When some one feels their movement is being restricted they can feel threatened and react aggressively. By managing the space on the road effectively this can be kept to a minimum.
We can think of different types of space on the road. Free Space is an area that is available and is not going to be used by anyone else for the moment so is safe to move into. As the traffic flow is constantly changing the situation may change in an instant so as to create a different type of area. Always check for potential threats before occupying that section of road.
Threatened space is an area of road that another vehicle intends to occupy. This often occurs when changing lanes and emerging at T junctions. Learner drivers should be taught to look for spaces and not at cars in these situations. Judging if there is sufficient room to move off and reach driving speed without inconvenience to others. Threatened space has the highest risk factor attached to it so avoid moving into this. The highest risk is the area that a vehicle cannot help moving into, usually directly in front of a moving vehicle. The higher the speed of the vehicle, the larger the threatened space is.
Opportunities are presented by intelligent use of shielded space. This situation can occur at roundabouts when turning left with a larger vehicle on the right going ahead. As the vehicle to the right moves off the space in front is now shielded from traffic on the roundabout and is therefore safe to move into. Beware of using too small a vehicle as a shield and don't hesitate to move off. If the shielding vehicle is too small or moves away quickly you are left exposed in a threatened area that is closing down fast.
Always check if a space is opening, if it is then use this to your advantage and make progress. If it's closing then check mirrors carefully before making any decision as this can mean danger. By good use of planning and a courteous attitude we can maintain a steady traffic flow and reach our destinations safely and stress free.