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Mirror! Mirror! on your car ... ‘provides safety by far’

Published:Sunday | December 12, 2021 | 12:05 AMPaul Glenroy Messam - Contributor

The front windshield of the taxi driven by Osbourne Manning was allegedly damaged by a man of unsound mind.
The front windshield of the taxi driven by Osbourne Manning was allegedly damaged by a man of unsound mind.

Mirror! Mirror! on your car, does it keep you safe by far? Yes, mirrors play a significant role in the proper handling of your motor vehicle. Would it be entirely safe to drive from say Red Hills or Stony Hill to downtown without any form of mirror on that vehicle? “The answer is no,” advised Basil Cotterel, a driver instructor with over 30 years’ experience in the motor world.

According to him, a driver, regardless of his skill and competence, without mirrors on his vehicle could not successfully drive from Manor Park to downtown on a busy Friday afternoon, rain or shine, without serious consequences.

A mirror is a device or surface of reflecting material usually made from glass. “A driving mirror is often regarded as the driver’s third eye,” says Cotterel. Mirrors are therefore one of the keys to defensive driving. The mirrors on the motor vehicle enable the driver to keep up to date with what is happening behind him. It is this device that provides driver with the information he needs, as he decides how to manoeuvre through the heavy traffic.

Drivers are reminded to keep a good posture while driving. Adjust the seat so that you can reach the foot pedals easily. Get comfortable behind the wheel.

You should not have to strain to see any mirror, reach the gear lever or turn the signals. Your position, when properly seated, should allow you to see clearly and allow you to glance to the rear. Importantly, the driver should adjust both inside and outside mirrors to reduce blind spots. These are areas where you cannot see behind your car, through the mirrors.

Then adjust the outside mirror so you can just see the tip of your front door. This allows you to see part of the lanes of traffic to the right and rear of your car. Mirrors are made to be used in good time, which is well before a driver approaches a hazard, slows down, changes lane, or begins any kind of manoeuvring.

Mirrors on the vehicle must be checked before changing gears. Without this action, it is certainly not safe to drive. All this might appear elementary to a driver with little experience. However, the reality is that too often there is the careless motorist who fails to check before making a turn, which can cause serious, painful financial consequences. There is also the new driver for whom it might take a little time to develop the hand-eye coordination, so necessary for safe driving. “Mirrors are important aids to road safety,” says Verlette Campbell, a former member of the Bicycle Patrol at Grants Pen. According to Campbell, the driver should be able to read the road without twisting and turning his neck or body.

Additionally, mirrors are necessary because they give a clear view of what is happening around the vehicle. They also help motorists to avoid causing problems to other road users, and predict when to take action safely. Campbell advises all motorists to check their mirrors before: moving off, changing directions, turning left or right, overtaking, changing lanes, slowing down, stopping or opening the car door.

Take note:

1. Mirrors help the driver to judge the speed and distance of vehicles behind him.

2. Most interior mirrors have flat glass. They are close to the driver’s eyes and give a true picture of the road behind.

3. Most exterior mirrors are convex, that is, they are slightly curved and give a wider field of vision.

4. Objects in the convex mirror appear smaller and are closer than they appear in the mirror.

5. Mirrors enable safety of pedestrians standing close to the kerb.

6. Mirrors ensure safety just before overtaking and also before moving back in the correct lane.