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Mirrors:

Setting the mirrors for the proper view

Your interior mirror should be adjusted so that you have a fairly central view of the road behind. Sometimes a bias slightly to the right improves the perspective, and gives a better view of potentially overtaking traffic. In the photo the centre of the rear screen (silver sticker) lines-up with the centre of the night dip lever on the mirror itself.

Your door mirrors should be adjusted (as shown) so that you can see a little of the side of the car. This is so that you know where anything you see in the door mirror is relative to you. The horizon in the door mirror should be about two thirds of the way up.

Each side of the car there are blind areas, areas that you cannot see when you are looking forwards, and that you can't see when you look in the mirrors. A car about to pull away on your right, or from a driveway, can easily be hidden in your blindspot.

Also please don't change these settings for your drivng test as the examiner is trained to look at you at the correct times to see if you are looking in the mirrors. If you adjust them off-centre, you just won't be able to see correctly. this is because after driving for a while on your test you will forget to move your head, and just accept a poor view. The best way to safeguard yourself for your test is to look in the mirror at the correct time.

When you are preparing to pull away, try to keep your eyes outside of the car, to make sure that you know what is happening all around you. While you are putting the car in gear check the interior mirror. Then the driver's door mirror. Once you are ready to go, and you think it is clear - check your left blindspot, the road ahead, your interior mirror, driver's door mirror, and right blindspot. If you're still sure it's clear, re-check the right blindspot, as you release the handbrake, and move away. A way to remember where to look is to start your observation on the left side, and sweep around, and finish on the right side blindspot (If you are stopped on the right side of the road swap right for left, etc).

The blindspot:
On each side of the car is an area that you can't see in the door mirror, and you can't see when you are looking ahead . It can only be observed by turning your head and looking over your shoulder. There could be a parked car about to pull away hidden in this area, or on a wide road even a bus! There could possibly be a whole side turning that you cannot see (photo below).

 

The massive blindspot at the side of the car

 

Moving off from the side of the road:
If there is other traffic, or pedestrians about, you need to indicate before you go. It can be difficult to release the handbrake, and indicate, and move away promptly. To make it easier, as long as you are not on an uphill, you can release the handbrake and hold the car on the footbrake while you are waiting; The last thing you should do before you pull away is check the blindspot !
A common test failure when pulling away is making an approaching vehicle slow down. Try to make sure that you don't inconvenience anyone in any way.

When driving:
You need to use your internal mirror before you speed up or slow down, before indicating, and before pulling in or out. Before you move, or turn, to the left or right you also need to use your side door mirror.

It is good practice to check about every 5 seconds, and every time you change gear. Most importantly use your mirrors every time you see a hazard ahead, because that's when you are likely to have to take action, and you need to know what's around you before you do.

Only look briefly though, too long and you may swerve all over the road. You are looking for danger, not detail. You don't want to know what the number-plate of the car behind is, but you do want to know whether he is moving into an overtaking postion or not (photo below):

 

Checking the mirror for overtaling traffic before turning right

 

It is necessary to use both the interior and door mirrors as part of your observation sequence, because you have a different view in each. In the interior mirror you may see someone closing up fast from behind, whereas in the right door mirror they aren't visible. Yet in the right door mirror you may see a vehicle overtaking, but they are too far to your right to see in the interior mirror.

Try not to use the two mirrors consecutively though as it takes your eyes off the road for too long. Separating their use gives you time to look back at the road ahead and also serves as a means of observing people around you after they have had time to react to your indicator.

Do make sure though that you are not looking in the mirror when you should be looking at something more important in front of you. Timing is everything!

The correct sequence is:    Mirror Signal; Do stuff !

On your driving test your examiner, once he has given any instruction, has been trained to to look at you until you look in the mirror. Missing a mirror check is usually a minor fault. But if it causes a problem with another vehicle because you haven't seen it, then it is a failure.

There are 3 categories of mirror faults: before indicating, before changing speed, before changing position. If you get more than 3 minors within any category, it will probably be marked as a serious fault and be a failure.