Mirrors Signal Manoeuvre (MSM) is the foundation of driving safely and responsibly. To be able to respond safely and sensibly to hazards ahead, drivers need to know what traffic is doing behind and to the sides of the car. Effective use of mirrors is the skill of knowing exactly where other road users are in relation to the rear and sides of our vehicle.

The performance standards by DSA refer to making ‘effective use of mirrors and other aids to identify and monitor other road users and hazards. Understanding of how different types of mirrors can make other road users appear to be nearer or further away than they actually are is essential. Simply looking in the mirrors by rote without understanding is not enough to drive safely in the real world. Satisfactory use of mirrors requires judgement and planning of where vehicles might move to, or how they might respond, if a signal is given by indicator or brake lights.

As a new driver, one should learn and develop the skills of anticipating the effects of signal timing, linked with what’s happening on the road in front of you, where there is a need to change road position or speed. A good driving style depends on a full awareness of not only what can be seen ahead but also what’s happening on both sides and behind the car.

Mirrors Signal Manoeuvre (M-S-M)

Appropriate mirrors must be checked well before;

  • Signalling
  • Changing speed
  • Changing direction
  • Overtaking

The driving mirrors must be clean, clear and well adjusted. You should adjust the center and door mirrors for maximum rear view.

The interior mirror is a flat piece of glass, and gives a true view of the distance of the vehicles following you. Adjust the interior mirror using your left hand, place your thumb and fore finger along the edge of the mirror and move it until the rear window is framed in the mirror. You have to be careful as not to touch the mirror as fingerprints can distort the image.

You may notice that the objects seen in the door mirror (exterior mirror/offside mirror) appear smaller and so seen further away, this is because the fitted glass is Convex – wide angled, which gives a wider field of vision but not a true reflection of distance and size so this has to be taken into consideration when using the door mirrors.

Check the blind spot before moving offVisual Controls include mirrors and windows. Blind spots are areas which are not visible in the interior or exterior mirrors of the car. It is absolutely essential to make it a point to check, blind spots and blind areas both to the left and right of the vehicle regularly, before moving your stationary car. Remember always use your mirrors regularly and well in advance of any hazards.

Mirrors Signal Manoeuvre (M-S-M) Check mirrors well before Signalling Check mirrors well before changing speed Check mirrors well before changing direction Check mirrors well before overtaking

Frequently asked questions-

1. Which mirrors to look for and when?

If you are slowing down in a straight line then only checking the interior mirror may be sufficient. But if there is any change of direction involved then, checking the appropriate side mirror is important. For instance, while turning left, the left hand side exterior mirror should be checked for any pedestrians or cyclist.

While changing of lanes in a steady flowing traffic, using of both interior and offside mirror is required before signalling and changing lane. Signalling time is very crucial in this scenario. Effective use of the mirrors in this case means judging and waiting for a suitable gap before signalling; then moving out without causing any issues.

Food for thought – (You should give a think to the below and discuss this with your instructor)

Is it necessary and important to look over the right shoulder before moving off?

How did you set the mirrors as part of your cockpit drill?

Lesson no: 
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