I have been driving for about 5 years, but I still have to look at the speedometer at least every 5 seconds or so. It seems most other drivers with a similar amount of experience can tell the car's speed intuitively. It doesn't really bother me, but I've started riding a motorcycle recently, and I need to keep my eyes on the road all the time. Do you have some tips for this, other than the generic 'keep practicing' answer?(I do not know how I should practice anyway)
A proper posture will change the speed perception and the ability to glance at the speedometer quickly. Other than that, the biggest shift in the perception of speed is done by our eyes. The necessary kind of visual acuity for driving is not intuitive for humans.
Try to adopt a more relaxed vision, without focusing the eyes forcifully. Try to shift the focus of your eyes further ahead, usually to the furthest point ahead where you can still see the road and traffic which on a highway might be a mile ahead. Use your peripheral vision to position yourself relative to hazards and to operate the controls. This point is tenfold more important on a bike, than it is in a car!
You may "scroll down" periodically by letting your eyes drop to look at a fixed object or at something closer to your car, to gauge the exact positioning and speed of the car. Within a few times you are likely to get the hang of it. Also check your following distance from the car ahead (ensure it's at least two full seconds), at least once each time you drive. This will also help your speed perception.
Practice checking the speedmeter once every 10 to 13 seconds, and in one quick glance. You may start doing so in the parking space, by just training your eyes to shift down to the speedometer by the count of 12 and immediately back to forward vision.
And now you can practice! You will probably get a natural sense for it within two to four weeks, but further practice will enhance this ability for a longer time span.
Joined: Aug 02, 2006
Location: McLean, VA, USA
Wed Oct 26, 2011 3:55 pm
Well, as for me - I still cannot give you the number without looking at the speedometer. Though I usually don't look at it much - unless I want not to exceed a certain speed like speed limit or say 80 mph which is the threshold for "reckless driving" charge in Virginia. If possible, I prefer cruise control assisting me in this lately
When I am not concerned with any number I sort of "feel" if the speed is appropriate for the circumstances, and adjust accordingly if/when needed, without even glancing at the speedometer. But it certainly takes years and years of driving to get to this point.
I don't know if you're aware of this but your tach reading will relate to a specific MPH. For example 5500 rpm in 1st gear will always equal X MPH while 5500 Rpm in 2nd gear will always equal Y mph. This is assuming level pavement, it will vary on grade. And possibly on the highway if you're behind a large truck. Shift patterns can have an effect. There are one or two other factors also but your speedometer is probably not that accurately calibrated anyway, so imo you'll be in the ballpark.
I'm guessing you tend to shift at similar rpms and go by the engine note (though I've no idea how many cc's the bike is nor the make) So perhaps you can familarize yourself with the tach reading which you probably consult before/and more often than the speedometer. So this might be another way for you to have a decent idea of your speed.
And speaking of engine noise this may also give you a clue as to how fast your're going -- but again you'd need to familiarize yourself with the MPH variations of the different gears the rpms / engine noise equate to.
This obviously will require some effort on your part, but imo it'll be great riding practice too.
Oh, and don't think your not knowing the mph visually is a reflection on your lack of driving skill -- it's not. In fact this may even be an indicator of a natural driving talent you inherently have.
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