It’s easy to think, “you’re either paying attention or you’re not,” and that’s the end of it. I disagree; the best way to improve situational awareness is, first, to become aware of your level of awareness.
By that, I mean, it’s not good enough to just try and be aware of what’s going on around you. You need to take responsibility for your awareness, and constantly monitor the degree to which you are present and 100% devoted to the task of riding properly.
Let’s assign Dept. of Homeland Security-style color codes to levels of situational awareness:
• White – you are unaware of your surroundings; daydreaming, or distracted
• Yellow – a state of relaxed awareness
• Orange – a heightened state of alert in response to a specific potential threat
• Red – immediate action is required