Using Your Mirrors
Using your driving mirrors regularly and sensibly is vital to safe and defensive driving. When driving, you need to keep alert to what is happening behind you all the time you are driving. As a driver, you should get into the habit of glancing frequently in your interior or rear view mirror to monitor the movement of traffic behind your vehicle, so that you are never caught out by vehicles, tricycles (keke) and motorcycles overtaking you unexpectedly.
It is important to use your mirrors well before your intended driving action. This is necessary to ensure that it is safe to proceed with your manoeuvre and that your actions fit safely with those of other road users. By so doing, you would be getting into the habit of the Mirrors – Signal – Manoeuvre routine. Avoid staring at the mirrors; several quick glances will allow you to build a picture of the traffic situation all around without distracting you from the road ahead. If your mirrors are correctly adjusted, you will be able to check them with minimal head movement. Another useful tip is to use your mirrors in pairs, the interior or rear view mirror first and then the appropriate exterior or side/door mirror; this will give you a wider field of view. You should always use your mirrors in good time and well before:
– Moving off
– Changing direction or lanes
– Turning right or left
– Slowing down or stopping
– Increasing your speed (accelerating)
– Leaving the vehicle (opening your vehicle door)
Even with correctly adjusted mirrors, you cannot see everything to the sides. The hidden areas are called ‘blind-spots’. The blind spot is the area that you cannot see either when using normal forward vision or when using your driving mirrors. In some situations, you will need to check your blind-spots in addition to using your mirrors; this is especially important when moving off from the side of the road and during slow speed manoeuvres.
While you are on the move or driving, there are few occasions when it will be necessary to check your blind spots, and these would include:
– Before changing lanes.
– Before joining an expressway or a dual carriageway from the slip road.
– Before manoeuvring in situations where traffic is merging from the right or left.
Apart from the above situations, looking right round to check blind spots on the move is unnecessary and dangerous, especially when driving at high speeds. Regular and sensible use of the driving mirrors will keep you up to date with what is happening behind.
In next week’s article, we shall be discussing signaling and the use of signals. For further explanations or clarification on the articles in the Essential Skills of Driving column, consult the author.
Stephen K. Dieseruvwe
Director General, Delta State Traffic Management Authority (DESTMA)
**Driver Trainer and Road Safety Consultant