The importance of proper use of all of the mirrors shouldn’t be under estimated. Knowing what is happening behind you is as important as knowing what is ahead of you when you are planning ahead and making a plan of action to deal with a hazard, which could just as easily come from behind, e.g. an emergency vehicle, as develop ahead of you.
As well as looking in the mirrors on specific occasions, i.e. before signalling and changing speed or direction, you will be a better and safer driver if you can get in the habit if checking your mirrors every few seconds or so. But which mirror should you use and when?
Inside Mirror – this is the mirror you will look at more than the others. Use it whenever you use the others or on its own if you are slowing down with no turn to be made or when you are just generally checking the situation behind you.
Left Mirror – use this mirror whenever you plan to turn or move to the left or if you need to check something specific on that side, for example, you’ve just overtaken a cyclist and then come to a stop in a queue at a junction and need to know where the cyclist is.
Right Mirror – as above, just swap the word ‘left’ for ‘right’
If you watch an experienced driver, you will notice that they look in the mirrors immediately before taking some form of action. This leaves no time for adjustment if you don’t see what you expect to see. Mirrors should be looked at early enough to change plans if needed.
It’s easy to look in the mirrors out of habit without actually noticing what is there. Make sure you don’t just look, but see as well. That includes the side mirrors where appropriate, and not just the inside mirror.