RAC Cars News


Driving Safely With Mirrors And Safe Spaces

By raccars Published

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Most people would argue that they are safe drivers. However, recent research has shown that apart from the age old distraction of infant passengers, modern day drivers are often caught out by newfangled distractions, such as sat nav devices and smartphones. These are estimated to account for up to 16% of road fatalities. New cars may be rammed full of sophisticated safety assistance features but these can't overcome some of the most commonly repeated basic errors, such as incorrect mirror placement or understanding the rules of safe space.

An astonishing number of drivers have their wing mirrors placed to show the sides of their car, leaving a massive blind spot. While driving along a dual carriageway it should be possible to see a car approaching from behind or to change lanes easily, using just your mirrors. A car behind should be visible from the centre rear view mirror until it reaches a closer distance, at which point it should become immediately visible in a wing mirror. However, most drivers are accustomed to positioning their wing mirrors to show the sides of their car rather than directly behind them and are uncomfortable with the correct and safer placement.

If you can see the sides of your car in your wing mirrors, you need to push them further out and make sure that you have a complete view of the scene behind you from your three mirrors, rather than duplicating the same views in each mirror.

Maintaining a safe space is equally important for safe driving. The safe space around a vehicle is usually about three or four cars' distance, both to the front and behind. This allows you a reasonable amount of stopping room in the event of an incident but is not any guarantee that you will avoid an accident. The onus is on the driver to constantly scan the surrounding road and try to drive 10-15 seconds ahead, to be aware of what is coming up.

Scanning to maintain a safe space around your car gives you time to manoeuvre out of other vehicles' way and to be aware when other vehicles change position unexpectedly and then take action accordingly.

If you can use your mirrors correctly and drive with a safe space around you, you are in a far better position to be able to call yourself a safe driver.

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