Situational (or situation) awareness is a simple concept, but in practice it is far from it… While you may think that you know what’s going on around you, the fact is that your brain will best process the things that your are focused on, while at the same time consciously missing LOTS of other things that are within your visual…
To drill (practice) your situational awareness will sharpen your sensory perception, your powers of observation, and hopefully enable you to pick up more anomalies in the environment.
Under many circumstances throughout a typical day, you are bombarded by sensory data, and your brain (while dealing with sensory overload) will not alert the conscious mind of all the information that is flowing in. That, coupled with your personal experiences will tend to shape what your mind keeps and discards as important or irrelevant, the result of which will create blind spots – which can prove detrimental.
Many people will also (and often) be thinking about ‘everything else under the sun’ while absently ignoring their present vicinity as they go about their daily routines. This behavior creates quite an advantage for an opportunist while seeking their prey.
There have been many articles written here about situational awareness. But here are a few more drills to test and hone your own:
1. During your driving commute to work, pay attention (safely 😉 ) to the vehicles around you. Do you recognize any of them from the day before or from any previous commute? See how many vehicles you can pick out that travel the same route at the same time as you. During the days (years!) of my regular commuting, it was very interesting to discover over time the same vehicles that traveled much of the same route during the same time. It makes sense of course (other people commute to work during the same approximate times as you), but I found the exercise to be interesting…
2. While observing other cars on the road (safely!), look at and notice the driver. What is the driver doing? Are you able to ‘sense’ their body language? How do you feel about the way they are driving? This drill hones your awareness of observation and your instinctive ‘sense’ while in a moving environment where observation may be a bit difficult (observing out and through your own bubble and into someone else’s).
3. As you are driving, randomly pick a car and then as quickly as you can – begin any and all observations to describe the vehicle to someone else. For example if you had observed a getaway car in a crime and you were asked to describe it, what details would you be able to recall?