Guide explains what mirrors to use when driving

What Mirrors to Check and When

Driving test examiners are very strict when it comes to assessing a test candidates use of mirrors. A minor, serious or dangerous fault can be gained on the test sheet if a simple mirror check is forgotten.

Many driving tests are failed each year because a test candidate either fails to check a mirror or checks a mirror too late. The learning to drive tutorials go into detail about what mirrors to check and when along with blind spot checking and use of indicators. This page provides an overview of what mirrors must to be checked based on what situation you’re in.

Moving Off

  • When: Moving off from the roadside
  • What Mirrors: Internal rear-view mirror followed by applicable side mirror

Before moving off from the roadside, you should have the car ready to go and just prior to moving off, check the internal rear-view mirror followed by the right side mirror if you’re parked on the left, or the left side mirror if you’re moving off from the right side of the road. You must always carry out a shoulder check / blind spot check in the same direction as you intend on moving off.

Left Turns

  • When: Making a left turn into a new road
  • What Mirrors: Internal rear-view mirror followed by left side mirror, then additional left side mirror check

Before making a left turn, you must check your internal rear-view mirror, followed by your left side mirror. Just prior to making the turn, you should check your left side mirror for a second time to ensure nothing is coming up alongside you such as a cyclist. As an additional safety precaution, it’s advised that you carry out a left blind spot check prior to carrying out the manoeuvre, especially when in a busy area.

Right Turns

  • When: Making a right turn into a new road
  • What Mirrors: Internal rear-view mirror followed by right side mirror, then additional right side mirror check

Before making a right turn, you must check the internal rear-view mirror, followed by the right side mirror. Just prior to making the turn, take a final quick glance into the right side mirror just to ensure nothing is overtaking you. If you’re in a busy area with cyclists, you should consider a quick glance over your right shoulder to ensure the blind spot is clear.

Turning Left at a T-Junction

  • When: Making a left turn at a T-junction
  • What Mirrors: Internal rear-view mirror followed by left side mirror

Before making a left turn at a T-junction, you must check the internal rear-view mirror, followed by the left side mirror.

Turning Right at a T-Junction

  • When: Making a right turn at a T-junction
  • What Mirrors: Internal rear-view mirror followed by right side mirror

Before making a right turn at a T-junction, you must check the internal rear-view mirror, followed by the right side mirror.

Turning Left at a Roundabout

  • When: Making a left turn at a roundabout
  • What Mirrors: Internal rear-view mirror followed by left side mirror, then additional left side mirror check

Use your mirrors in a similar way as you would a left turn. Before making a left turn at a roundabout, you must check the internal rear-view mirror, followed by the left side mirror. If you’re in a busy urban area, keep a look out for cyclists by taking a final quick glance in the left mirrors just before making the turn.

Straight Ahead at a Roundabout

  • When: Following the road ahead at a roundabout
  • What Mirrors: Internal rear-view mirror on approach followed internal rear-view mirror and left mirror just before exit

As you approach the roundabout to follow the road ahead, check the internal rear-view mirror. When on the roundabout and just after the first exit, check the internal rear-view mirror, followed by the left side mirror before exiting.

Turning Right at a Roundabout

  • When: Making a right turn at a roundabout
  • What Mirrors: Internal rear-view mirror followed by right side mirror on approach followed internal rear-view mirror and left mirror just before exit

As you approach the roundabout to make a right turn, check the internal rear-view mirror followed by the right side mirror. When on the roundabout, just after the exit before exit you intend on taking, check the internal rear-view mirror, followed by the left side mirror before.

Changing Lanes

  • When: Changing lanes to the left or right
  • What Mirrors: Internal rear-view mirror followed by applicable side mirror in the direction you intend on going

Before changing lanes, you must check your internal rear-view mirror followed by the applicable side mirror for the direction you intend on taking. After the mirrors and before carrying out the manoeuvre, check the applicable blind spot to ensure all is clear.

Entering a New Road

  • When: Joining a new road
  • What Mirrors: Internal rear-view mirror

Each time you join a new road you need to know what’s going on behind you. Just as you join the new road, check your internal rear-view mirror.

Slowing Down / Speeding Up

  • When: Before you slow down and speed up the car
  • What Mirrors: Internal rear-view mirror

Before you begin slowing down or accelerating, always check your rear-view mirror. This can include slowing down or or moving off after stopping for traffic queues, pedestrian crossings, traffic lights etc.

Joining a Dual Carriageway / Motorway

  • When: Before joining a dual carriageway or motorway
  • What Mirrors: Internal rear-view mirror followed by right side-mirror

As you begin accelerating down a dual carriageway or motorway slip road, about half way down the slip road check your internal rear-view mirror, followed by the right side-mirror. As you get closer to joining, vary observation between your direction of travel along with quick glances into the right side-mirror. Just before joining take a brief blind spot check to the right.

Exiting a Dual Carriageway / Motorway

  • When: Before exiting a dual carriageway or motorway
  • What Mirrors: Internal rear-view mirror followed by left side-mirror

When exiting a dual carriageway or motorway, you’ll need to do so via a slip road. Before entering the slip road, check the internal rear-view mirror, followed by the left side mirror.

Parking Up

  • When: Parking up on the left or the right
  • What Mirrors: Internal rear-view mirror followed by applicable side mirror in the direction you intend on stopping

During the driving test you’ll be required to park up on the left, but the test now includes parking up on the right. Before parking, you must first check the internal rear-view mirror, followed by the applicable side mirror based on the direction you intend on parking. It’s also recommended that before carrying out the manoeuvre, you check the applicable blind spot.

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