How Often Should You Check Your Mirrors?

Posted on by Defensive Driving | in Defensive Driving Tips

If you will, imagine yourself driving down the freeway. Five minutes has now passed. How many times have you checked your mirrors? Ten times? Maybe twenty if you are a really good driver, right? Actually, if you answered anything less than 60 times you are not checking your mirrors enough. Yep, that’s right; according to experts at the University of Texas at Dallas you should be checking your mirrors every five seconds. And this includes all of your mirrors, not just the rearview one. As if every five seconds isn’t enough, you should also be checking your mirrors before you slow down, while you are stopped, before changing lanes, and before and after turns. And, of course, anytime you want to make sure your hair looks just right (kidding).

Why do I need to check my mirrors so much?

First off, this does not mean you need to study your mirrors every five seconds, because then, frankly, you would miss what was going on ahead of you. You simply need to glance in all three mirrors every five seconds. By doing so, you are keeping yourself aware of everything going on around you, which is the key to being a successful defensive driver. For instance, let’s just say you glance in your mirrors and notice a car coming up behind up. Five seconds later, that car is gone. Where did it go? If you can’t see it in your other mirrors, chances are it is in your blind spot. You also want to be aware of what cars are around you so that if you do need to react in an emergency situation, you will know which lane you can move to or if it is safe to slam on your brakes.

Another reason that you need to check your mirrors so often is because your short-term memory is probably not as great as you think it is. Most people cannot recall what they just saw behind them if asked. If you want to test yourself, have one of your backseat drivers ask you, at an unannounced time, what you just saw in your mirrors. You will probably have to look in the mirrors again just to answer them, which isn’t such a bad thing because it has probably been five seconds anyway.

So the next time you are driving, challenge yourself to check your mirrors every five seconds. By getting in the practice of doing this, you will become a much safer driver on the road. Count to five, check mirrors. Count to five, check mirrors. Repeat continuously until you arrive at your destination.

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