Friday, 7 November 2008

Observation Links

'Observation Link' is a term that most people who've taken some sort of post-test training will be aware of, it means you 'observe' something, then 'link' it to a possible outcome. Being pessimistic*, you could look for a selection of outcomes and plan for the worst.

There are a few variation on the term, the MSF in the USA used the term "What if?" to develop this idea of following through from a possible risk to an actual danger. The phrase was more recently adopted by the DSA for its hazard perception video.

I suggest to trainees that they should ask themselves "How could that affect me?"

Sometimes the train of thought which makes up one of these links can seem quite tenuous!

A couple of days ago I was riding back through Oxfordshire, in a long stream of traffic including some HGVs, on a road liberally splattered with '50' limits. In other word, not travelling too briskly! Keeping a good following distancefrom the car in front (there was little chance of overtaking, and on that road little or no chance of passing the whole row) I had plenty of time to look around.

On one particular section, the road made a gentle 'left-right' and as it curved right it went up over a gentle hill. The field on the right hand side of the road was open, and allowed a good view up to the hill creat.

So the first 'affect me' was that I could see there wasn't a sharp 'right', and could also see there were no side turnings hidden in the hedge.

But I could see a row of trees along the hill crest running perpendicular to the road. Now fields often have hedges between them, but rarely rows of trees - especially not trees which were evenly-spaced, and alternated between two distinctly different types of tree.

A quick bit of thinking suggested that what I was actually seeing wa an avenue, with one type of tree on one side, and a different type on the other.

An avenue = side turning, but likely to be residential/farming access lane (which it was), rather than a 'signed' road.

And that's the sort of information you need if you're looking to overtake!

Look for reasons not to overtake, rather than looking to see if you can.


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