Body Language



Slow Down Pay Attention Get Off Your PhoneRIP Eric



Steve and Eric remind all of us who walk, bike, or drive on the streets. Every day someone looses their life because of inattentive driving.

To counteract this a good defensive driver must get into the mind of all other drivers to root out zombies, or else take measures to avoid collisions and hazardous situations, constantly.

It’s like a good strategy game but with deadly consequences.




Communication by Body Language applies to Vehicles on the Street As Well as People

1. The only way to guarantee that another driver is aware of you is to do something that causes them to react.

2. Tactics like bright lights, bright colors, or loud mufflers help, but do not guarantee your presence is known.

3. Even eye contact is not a sure thing, unless you can see the drivers eyes react to your sudden movement.

Imagine you are in a crowded shopping mall. People are walking in all directions and crossing paths and yet no one hardly ever bumps into another person. As you are walking, you see a woman approaching you straight on. As she gets closer she notices that you are on a collision course with her, and moves to one side slightly. You see, by her body language, that she intends to go around you on your left, so you move a little to the right. The two of you pass without even thinking about it. This unspoken communication happens every time two pedestrians are on a collision course. If your paths are not straight towards each other, but instead are perpendicular, then the body language signal is a change in walking speed. One person slows down and/or the other person speeds up. In order to speed up you have to lean forward a little. That signals the other person to slow down.

Now imagine you are watching an NFL football game. A skilled offensive receiver or running back is running with the ball. The defense is pursuing him. Whenever a defender gets near, the runner “throws a fake”, causing the defender to miss the tackle. The runner scores a touchdown, without being touched.  A good runner, besides being fast, is good at faking, or sending  false body language signals.  A twitch of the head and eyes, “look left and go right”, is one example. A twist of the upper torso to the right, while the legs go another direction, is another example.

Now let’s apply these principles to motor vehicles. It’s night time, another vehicle is moving slowly forward in the turning lane as you approach. How do you know they see you? You do something that causes a visible reaction. On a light motorcycle you can move your whole bike from side to side. A head light that moves across the field of vision is easier seen than a flickering or flashing headlight with no side motion. As you approach head-on you twitch towards the left, towards the suspicious car. Immediately the car will twitch as the driver applies brakes or steering. Then you know the driver in that car sees you. If not, then you immediately slow way down, to avoid the possible collision. What’s funny is they think you are stupid or not in control, for being “goofy” or “twitchy”.

There’s a way to “freeze the intersection”. As you approach an intersection where cars are turning left and right in front of you, you can change lane position quickly. This should get any turners who are rolling forward slowly, to stop, as they react simultaneously to your “fake”. It’s like a flinch. They think you’re a bad driver because you can’t go straight. You’re a couple of chess moves ahead of them. They don’t know that you got them to freeze up for your safe passage.

Getting a view of the driver can be a good way of communicating. In the day, standing up and sitting down, while watching their eyes, is one way of telling if they see you, when you are in close range. You have to see their facial expression change, and not just hold a zombie stare straight at you. All of this is defeated by tinted windows. That’s partially why tinted front and side windows are illegal in California and other places.

That’s the main idea. Two way communication is better than one way.

Stay safe and enjoy the streets!    – Shaun Strahm Oct 2012