Mirror, Signal, Manoeuvre

Do you remember the old mantra "mirror, signal, manoeuvre"?

Experienced drivers develop their mirror skills to the next level, by "scanning" and even using a glance over their shoulder to remove the dreaded "blind spot".

"Scanning" mirrors involves checking all three mirrors in sequence, starting with one side mirror, then checking the interior mirror and finally finishing on the other side mirror.

To be consistent and effective, you should use all the information that is available to you when you are driving.

Things change quickly, particularly in a busy urban environment and you want the best information you can get (ie the most recent) before you commit to a manoeuvre

If we take signalling as an example, ideally all three mirrors should be checked before you apply the indicator. So, if you are going to signal to the right, you start with the right exterior mirror, then the interior mirror, the left exterior and finally the right exterior again.

The reason we finish there is that this is the direction you intend to go and so it will let you know if it actually safe to put on the indicator. You might want to delay a moment perhaps to let another road user react to your intentions.

On the other hand, if you were signalling to the left, you would start with the left exterior mirror, the interior, the right exterior and back to the left exterior before applying the indicator.

As you start your turn, another quick glance in the relevant mirror is reassuring.

When changing lanes, it is a good idea to get into the habit of supplementing the mirror scan with a right shoulder check, which assures you that there is nothing "sitting" in your blind spot, moving along at a similar speed to you and so remaining undetected. A fast moving motorbike will be picked up by this glance, even if your mirror check a moment earlier failed to pick up that the rider was changing lanes and overtaking at the same time.

These shoulder checks should be no more than a glance, however: your primary attention must be on the road ahead. Some advanced drivers even use a left shoulder check to keep an eye out for bicycles, for example.

Remember the faster you travel, the more you rely on your mirrors. And at lower speeds, you are more likely to need to check for a blindspot.

21 May 2006 Staff

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