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Using Your Rearview Mirrors

Rearview Mirrors - Part 2

Join instructor Micah in the second installment of our two part rearview mirror series as he guides you through how and when to use your rearview mirrors. Your mirrors are an important safety feature that increase your range of visibility around your car. Checking your mirrors regularly is a great defensive driving technique that helps you to see what is going on around you.

Remember to make your mirror checks quick glances -- Avoid staring in your mirrors or looking away from the road ahead of you for too long. Instead do a quick look to one of your mirrors, then check the road in front of you before checking a different mirror.

Other Times to Check Your Mirrors:

Before Making a Lane Change: Check your mirrors to make sure that there is no traffic approaching from the rear and do a quick look over your shoulder to make sure your blind spot is clear and the maneuver is safe.

When Reducing Your Speed: Stopping suddenly can put you in danger of being rear ended by other motorists. Before you slow down, take a quick look in your mirrors to identify potential threats.

When Driving Down a Steep Hill: Watch for large vehicles behind you when going down a long or steep hill. They can gather speed very quickly and may have a harder time stopping than you do, putting you in danger of being rear ended.

When Backing Up: Use your mirrors when backing up, but don't only depend on your mirrors when reversing. Continually look over your right and left shoulders and check your mirrors while backing.

When Being Tailgated: If you notice another driver in your rearview mirror following you too closely, don't slow down too quickly, but give yourself more space in front of you so that you will have more time to slow down if there is a problem. Also, try to change lanes safely so that you can let the tailgater pass you.

Rearview Mirrors, Part 2 - Video Transcript

Welcome back my wonderful learning-to-drive friends! If you've watched part one of our rearview mirrors' series, you are already an expert on how to ADJUST your mirrors. If you missed part one, just click here to get up to speed.

Today, in part two of our discussion, we are going to talk about HOW and WHEN to use your rearview mirrors! After watching this video, you should be more comfortable glancing in your mirrors and will definitely be a better defensive driver who is aware of their surroundings at all times!

OK, let's get started. Now that we have learned in part one how to POSITION your mirrors, let's talk about how to actually USE them while driving. While your mirrors are a great tool that'll help you as a driver, don't forget that your primary concern when driving is what's going on in front of you. New drivers often get so caught up with staring in their mirrors that they end up dangerously taking their eyes off of the road ahead of them for too long. Remember, when you use your mirrors, do not stare, but instead take quick glances, like this.

In general, when you're driving along the road, you want to be checking your mirrors regularly -- say every 2-5 seconds... but the main goal is to always be generally aware of what's going on around your vehicle. If you are checking your mirrors frequently, you will always have a good idea of the traffic situation behind you, as well as any potential traffic in your blind spot. Knowing the traffic situation around you is important for emergency situations when you have to think and react quickly... by already knowing what's going on all around your vehicle, you will be better prepared to make safer, split-second decisions.

Now that you know not to stare in your mirror and that you want to use quick glances to assess the traffic around you, let's do a lane change together to better demonstrate the art of using quick glances, while not losing sight of traffic ahead of you.

For example, if I want to make a lane change to my left, I'll signal to the left and then do several mirror checks and shoulder checks to make sure it is safe before I move over... but all of these checks that I'll do will be brief glances, and in between each mirror check or shoulder check, notice how I always look forwards again for safety. Also, did you notice how I never stare at the mirrors or stare over my shoulder? Everything is done with short glances.

Now let's do another example where we make a RIGHT lane change, but this time in slow motion so you can really get the idea. I'll go ahead and put my right signal on. First, I check my center mirror quickly -- everything looks good behind me -- and then my eyes go back to the road ahead of me briefly. Then my eyes quickly check the mirror on the RIGHT, because that's the lane I want to change into. That looks clear, and now my eyes go back to the road ahead of me. Finally, I do a quick chin-to-right-shoulder glance to check my blind spot in the direction I want to move into -- my blind spot looks clear, and then again my eyes return to the road ahead. You get the idea, it's a kind of a continuous back and forth of quick glances -- you check behind you in the center mirror, then check in front of you, behind you in the side mirror, check again in front of you, check your blind spot, check in front of you, etcetera, until you determine it is safe and you can complete your lane change. Again, while it's tempting to get caught up staring in your mirrors, never lose sight of the road conditions ahead of you. Quick glances are really important, and I can't stress it enough!

Ok all, we are doing great and have already discussed two of the most common reasons you'll be using your mirrors: 1) to be a defensive driving pro that is always aware of the traffic situation around them and 2) when you make lane changes, so you can make sure you are not getting in the way of vehicles in the lane you want to enter.

Besides lane changes and using your mirrors proactively to identify potential threats around you, let's go over other situations when you'll want to use your mirrors:

When Reducing Your Speed. Before you slow down, take a quick look in your mirrors. If you are going to slow down or stop, you want to make sure traffic behind you is aware and that you aren't in danger of being rear ended.

When Driving Down a Steep Hill. When you're going down a long or steep hill, you'll want to watch for large vehicles behind you because they can gather speed very quickly and may have a tougher time stopping than you do. Again, the danger here is being rear ended.

When Backing Up. Backing up is always dangerous because it is hard to see behind your vehicle. You'll definitely use your mirrors when backing up, but don't depend on your mirrors only when reversing. Look over your right and left shoulders before you begin backing. While you back, keep your "head on a swivel", constantly looking over your right and left shoulders and checking your mirrors again while backing.

When Being Tailgated. If you notice another driver in your rearview mirror following you too closely, be careful and brake slowly before stopping. If you have to, tap your brakes lightly a few times to warn the tailgater you are slowing down, and if you can, try to change lanes safely so that the tailgater is no longer behind you... or even pull off the road -- if it is safe to do so -- and let the tailgater pass.

All right folks, I hope that's enough rearview mirror talk for you! Who knew that adjusting and using your mirrors could be such an exhaustive topic? Thank you so much for taking the time to watch and learn with us. We appreciate your support and are always truly grateful for your likes, subscribes, and thoughtful comments. From Micah and everybody at Drivers Ed Direct -- please stay safe out there and we hope to see you in our rearview mirror someday... using brief glances of course!