Why do you need to keep looking in your mirrors?

You may recall your Driving Instructor, and everyone else, telling you to keep checking the mirrors or you will fail the Driving Test. The Mirror, Signal, Manoeuvre routine (MSM) is taught by every Driving Instructor. But why do we need to check our mirrors?

Before we answer that question, let me ask you a question. Imagine you are approaching a railway level crossing and, as you get close, the lights start flashing and the barriers are lowered.

Should you check your mirrors before you brake?

Did you answer ‘yes’ to the question? If you did, ask yourself why? Imagine when you checked the mirrors you noticed a vehicle very close behind or approaching fast, what are you going to do? You can’t drive through the level crossing, and by braking the following vehicle will crash in to you. A no win situation!

So, the vehicle has crashed into you and it wasn’t your fault, there was nothing you could have done!

Now let’s look at what the Driving Examiner is actually looking for.

He/she wants to see “effective” use of the mirrors, and that begins much earlier in this scenario.

Well before reaching the railway level crossing, you will have seen a warning sign and, if the crossing is not visible from a distance because it’s over a brow of a hill or round a bend, there will be red count down markers similar to those used on motorway exits.

If you check your mirrors as soon as you see the warning sign and the following vehicle is close or travelling faster than you, this gives you the opportunity to start braking gently, giving the person behind more time to brake. But you must also remember to keep checking the mirrors to ensure they are braking.

Why do you need to keep looking in your mirrors?

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