Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Driving instructor mirrors

In my car, I've got a lot of mirrors. I've got a blind spot mirror on each door mirror. They could be helpful for keeping an eye on your blind spots, but personally I like to glance over my shoulder just in case. Convex blind spot mirrors are also really helpful for watching your positioning in lanes, and can be an aid with reverse parking into a bay, parallel parking and the corner reverse exercise. Even if I retired from instruction I'd still definitely have blind spot mirrors on my car (£7.99 each from halfords, if you want to be cool like us....).

I've got three interior mirrors in my car. There's the driver's mirror, which is all I would have if I wasn't a driving instructor (on my car its got light sensors and automatically dims to stop you from getting dazzled, how cool is that?!). I've got an instructor's rear view mirror, which is what I use to keep an eye on what's happening behind the car. Next to that, there's a smaller 'eyeball' mirror. Now I try to get my pupils to turn their head slightly to emphasise that they're checking their mirrors. It just makes it easier for me (and the examiners) to watch the road and other vehicles and watch the head movements out of peripheral vision, but I also have a mirror aimed at the learner's eyes. It serves more purposes than just watching them check mirrors, because I can see where they're looking - if they're looking down at the bonnet, for example, instead of up the road, or I can watch for facial expressions which helps know what my pupils are thinking in a situation that may be stressful or difficult.

The two extra interior mirrors are marketed as 'child view mirrors' for people who want to keep an eye on children on the back seat. I've got mixed feelings about the safety of this - you probably shouldn't be watching what's sat on the back seat when you're driving, but a mirror is better than turning right round.... If you've got children in the car just be careful that they're not a distraction. What I find surprising is that driving instruction is a pretty big industry, and we have to get mirrors designed for parents with young children instead of specially made ones. If I were to design specially made mirrors for driving instruction they'd be exactly the same though.

James Richards, ADI

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