Street Survival - Advanced Defensive Driving


Mirrors (Controls)

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To be able to drive safely, you have to be constantly aware of what is happening behind you.

In a fraction of a second, you should be able to respond to what is happening ahead, already aware that it is safe to do so, as you won't have the time to check behind you.

The rearview mirror and the two side mirrors play a vital role in this, so we will first consider how best to position the mirrors, as well as safety tips in using the mirrors.

💡 Tips:

Defensive Controls Mirrors

💡 How to adjust car mirrors for maximum visibility

  • Firstly, you need to make sure that your seat is properly positioned and only then adjust the mirrors accordingly.

  • The goal is to be able to glance at each of the mirrors, without moving your head, and see the maximum area around your vehicle.

  • Rearview Mirror:

  •      Make sure that you can see the entire rear window in the         mirror.

  •      Do not hang anything that would dangle from the mirror.         Aside from blocking vision, it also diminishes any                         detection of movement.

  • Side Mirrors:

  •       Horizontally - Adjust the mirrors so that you can see a                small part of the back of the car, as indicated in the                    accompanying picture. This will allow you to see anything        in the mirror in relation to your vehicle.

  •       Vertically - Set the horizon to be in the middle of the                  reflection.

💡 Tips on using car mirrors

  • Get into the habit of regularly glancing into the mirrors so that at any moment you are fully aware of what is happening behind you.

  • Be aware of any vehicle following you for a distance after taking a number of turns, as you may be a target for a hijacking.

  • Keep the time of each glance into the mirror to a minimum so that you don't lose track of what is happening ahead. It takes only a fraction of a second for the situation in front of you to change.

  • While glancing into the mirrors it is very difficult to know what is taking place up front.

  • The surface of the side mirrors are convex in shape. This is to increase the area that is displayed. The downside to this is that it makes objects appear to be FURTHER away than they actually are.

  • Do not let the interval between checking mirrors be too long before carrying out a maneuver, otherwise the situation can change radically from the last time you checked.

  • Blind Spots:

  •       Know that your car will contain blind spots, no matter                how well the mirrors are positioned.

  •       If safe to do so, always check over your shoulder, in                      addition to checking the mirrors, before making a lane              change.

  • Nighttime:

  •       If at night a vehicle drives behind you with their lights                blinding you from the rearview mirror, adjust the mirror to        the 'dim' setting to reduce the glare.

  •       Once the glare has gone, immediately return the setting          to normal as the visibility of the view in the mirror will be          reduced in the 'dim' setting.

💡 How to use the side mirrors to know if it is safe to change lanes

Using side mirrors effectively is crucial for safe lane changes while driving. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to use your side mirrors to determine if it's safe to change lanes:

  • Adjust Your Mirrors Properly: See section above. Start by adjusting your side mirrors to cover the blind spots. Your side mirrors should be positioned to reduce overlap with the rearview mirror, providing a wider field of view. Adjust them so you can see the rear of your car and a small portion of the adjacent lanes.

  • Distortion of image: Because the side mirrors are shaped (convex) in a way that it gives a wider field of view, it also means that objects appear to be further away than they really are.

  • Check the Rearview Mirror: Before making a lane change, glance at the rearview mirror to get a general sense of the traffic behind you.

  • Check the Side Mirror on the Corresponding Side: If you're planning to change lanes to the right, check the right-side mirror; if you're changing lanes to the left, check the left-side mirror. Look for vehicles approaching from the rear and assess their speed and distance. Also, check for motorcycles and bicycles, which may be harder to spot.

  • How to assess the distance of the car behind you: While checking in your rearview mirror, have a look for a marker (line or marking on the road) and then check after you have passed it, how long it takes before the front of the car behind you takes to reach that same marker. This will give you an idea of how far the car is behind you.

  • How to assess the speed of the vehicle behind approaching: What is also important to note is how fast the car is approaching you, so the first time you check the car may be far enough behind, but then check again to see how much closer the car is based on the time between when you checked previously.

  • Time spent looking in the mirror: Also make sure that you don't spend too long looking in the rearview mirror so that you are not aware of what is happening in front of you.

  • Look Over Your Shoulder (Optional): While the mirrors are essential, it's a good practice to quickly glance over your shoulder to check the blind spot. The blind spot is an area not covered by mirrors, so this additional check ensures you don't miss any vehicles.

  • Check the Side Mirror on the Opposite Side (Optional): For an extra layer of safety, you can also check the side mirror on the opposite side to verify there are no fast-approaching vehicles from that direction.

  • Use Turn Signals: Before changing lanes, always use your turn signals to indicate your intention to other drivers. This gives them a clear indication of your plans and allows them to adjust their speed or position accordingly.

  • Change Lanes Smoothly: If it's safe to proceed, change lanes smoothly and gradually. Avoid sudden or abrupt movements.

  • Continue Monitoring Traffic: After changing lanes, continue to monitor traffic using your mirrors to stay aware of your surroundings.

Remember, while side mirrors are valuable tools, they may not eliminate all blind spots. The quick check over your shoulder is a good practice to ensure there are no vehicles in areas not covered by mirrors.

Regularly checking your mirrors and being aware of your surroundings is an essential part of safe driving. Always follow traffic rules, be considerate of other drivers, and use mirrors in conjunction with other safety practices for effective lane changes.

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Street Survival - Advanced Defensive Driving