Your mirrors aren’t there for you to check your appearance - they are necessary for safe driving, and for seeing what other road users are doing. A lot of drivers concentrate so much on looking at the road ahead, they forget to spend enough time checking their rear view and wing mirrors to keep an eye on the road behind them.
Make sure that your mirrors are clear before you move off. In bad weather, this may involve cleaning or de-icing your outside mirrors, and de-misting your inside mirrors.
Use your rearview and wing mirrors to make sure that the road behind you is clear, and that it is safe to move off. Before you actually do move off though, look over your shoulder to check your ‘blind spot’ (the areas that will often not be visible in your mirrors), as you may not otherwise be able to see potential hazards such as cyclists or motorcyclists coming alongside your vehicle. If everything seems fine after you have performed these checks, it should be safe to move off.
You should keep checking your rear view and wing mirrors at regular intervals while you are driving so that you are aware of what is happening on the road behind you. These should be brief glances just to stay abreast, as your main focus should be on the road ahead of you. You should always check your mirrors before trying to change lanes.
Check all of your mirrors carefully before reversing to make sure that there are no pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists or obstructions behind you. You should also check your ‘blind spot’. Use the rear window for the most part.
Sometimes you might find that your mirrors are not in the right position to clearly see behind you. If this is the case, you will need to gently adjust them. You should be able to see the widest possible view of the road. If you can't, you run the risk of being unable to avoid an accident, simply because you cannot see everything that needs to be seen.
When you look in the interior rear view mirror, you should have a clear view out of the rear window. If not, it will need to be adjusted until you can see clearly.
When you look in the exterior wing mirrors, you should be able to see as much of the road as possible. Many drivers adjust their mirrors so that they can see the side of the car in the mirrors, but this is not necessarily the best option, as it creates 'blind spots' and 'tunnel vision', both of which make driving dangerous, as you cannot see enough of the road to drive safely. It is better to adjust the mirrors just beyond being able to see the side of the car in the wing mirrors, as this gives you a better view of the road.
For the driver's side mirror, put your head against the window and adjust the mirror until you can see the side of the car in the mirror. For the other side, sit in the driver's seat and reach across until your head is in the centre of the car (above the gearstick). From here, make sure that the side of the car can be seen in the mirror.
When you are learning to drive, your driving instructor will be frequently reminding you to check your mirrors. Many drivers forget to check their mirrors if they are not being prompted to, but it is an important routine to get into.
Disclaimer: The information in the article is for general purpose information only and should not be constituted as legal advice. This article has been produced by a third party and Jardine Motors does not take any responsibility for the completeness, accuracy, or reliability with respect to the website or the information provided. Article last updated October 2019.