Visual Targeting Strategies For Drivers

Let’s pretend you’re in a car. What do you see straight ahead? Perhaps a highway sign farther along the road. Maybe you see another vehicle changing lanes in front you. Maybe you’re a few seconds away from approaching a red light, which means you need to slow down and stop. No matter what’s ahead of you on the road, you need to be on the lookout — and that’s where visual targeting strategies come into play. Not sure what that means? Don’t worry, your favorite drivers ed and defensive driving company is here to help. This is Visual Targeting 101, and trust us, it’s eye-opening (heheh, get it?).

As Far as the Eye Can See

Now listen up children (and also teenagers and adult drivers and whoever else is reading right now), you’re about to be taught drivers ed skills that will blow your mind. Okay maybe not blow your mind, but still listen up, okay?  Visual targeting is the act of surveying the road in front of you and understanding objects or situations you may come across as you move forward (like highway signs, traffic signals and other cars.) There’s three visual targeting ranges you need to pay attention to:

visual targeting

Target Range

The target range is about 21-30 seconds ahead of you on the road and the best place to view what you’ll be encountering in the future. You should always be aware of anything happening in this range as you’ll be approaching it quickly and may need to react. 

Eyes on the prize, Jimmy.
Eyes on the prize, Jimmy.

Secondary Range

The secondary range is about 11-20 seconds ahead of you and where you’ll notice things like speed changes and lane changes. It’s still within safe braking distance, so you don’t have to worry about slamming on those puppies. Phew.

In other words, this should not be happening.
In other words, this should not be happening.

Immediate Range

The immediate range is about 4-10 seconds in front of you. This is within safe following distance (3-5 seconds), but you still have less time to react to changes. You should be wholly aware of what you’ll be encountering in this range. The closer you get to the immediate range, the faster your reaction times will have to be. 

Look out for synchronized dancing ahead.
Look out for synchronized dancing ahead.

When driving, your strategy should be to use eye movements to survey all three visual targeting ranges repeatedly. This creates a complete image of what’s around and in front of you. If you can do that, then your defensive driving skills will be right on target!

For more visual strategies, take a peek at our article on central and peripheral vision while driving.

Make sure to check out the rest of our safe driving videos for more tips to keep you in control on the road!