Defensive Driving – Here’s What You’ve Overlooked! (Pun Intended)

Defensive Driving


There is something about safe driving that you may not be giving much thought.

Here it is:

The most valuable defensive driving tool is your mirrors.

There’s an old saying that Ferrari owners use. It goes like this, “What’s behind you, she no matter!”

Translation: Driver blind spots and idiots coming up behind you are DANGEROUS.

That is, unless you are faster than everyone else on the road!

Gotta Watch Out for Cops!

I used consider myself as one of the worst speeders on the road.

Not a weaver or a lane cutter, I was simply a speed racer.

I went to driving school as a way to lick my wounds. You see, I had back-to-back tickets from California’s finest.

Surprisingly, the instructor of this course repeatedly instilled, “WATCH FOR COPS!”

How’s that for honesty!

In any case, it’s a simple concept.


Yeah, well, if it’s so easy why are traffic tickets so prevalent?

It’s not that easy. We were all taught to look in our mirrors frequently, but we get lazy.

We really don’t use this skill enough.

Watch for COPS! More broadly, be mindful of what’s going on around you.

Simple, really, look ahead, look behind, and look to your sides.

Mind Your Mirrors, They Matter!

Most people rely on mirrors most when they simply change lanes. This helps to avoid getting in another driver’s way.

Is this the extent of how you use your mirrors?

If so, you are missing the point.

You’re on your way to becoming another road casualty.

You see, mirrors are the defensive driver’s best weapon against idiots and COPS (no offense to our officers of civil peace).

No doubt about it…

Expert mirror use is a skill of the defensive driver.

Big Mirrors are a Must

Do you want large mirrors? Or little aerodynamic pods?

Sure, smallish looks fantastic on a sports car.

But they aren’t worth a darn for seeing anything behind you.

The truth is great mirrors give you full rear view coverage.

You want to be able to see the full width of the rear and slightly to the sides.

Good mirrors provide much better visibility. Any less, and you’re driving with blind spots.

To be precise:

Side view mirrors should provide 45 to 60 degrees of visibility off the sides.

Fix Those Blind Spots

You can improve your visibility.

Add one or more “blind spot” mirrors.

A few years ago I discovered the blind spot mirror. Correctly adjusted, they really give the driver a superior view.

Actually, the benefits are amazing!

Rear View Mirror Adjustment

Most people adjust their side view mirrors so they see the side of the car on the inside edge of the mirror.

This is simply incorrect.

You already know where the side of your car is. So why do you need to see it?

Pulling the side view mirrors in too far limits rear visibility. Do not overlap what you can see using your rear view mirror.

It’s a waste of potential vision!

A proper setting for side view mirrors is this:

Adjust them slightly beyond the point where you can see the side of the car on the inside edge of the mirror.

Positioned in this way, you’ll see more and remove a critical blind spot.

Police and Personal Preferences

It is dangerous to turn your head to check for cars along side you. The reason? Arms tend to follow.

This wasn’t a problem in my dad’s 1972 Oldsmobile 98.

In a sports car though, it can be reckless.

Sometimes if I sneeze hard I find myself in another lane.


Your head won’t have to turn as far for blind spots with well-positioned mirrors.

Think about it! Adjusting side view mirrors also allows for easier merging into traffic.

Likewise, as I pass on-ramps it’s easier to “Watch for COPS!” or anything else that might be a concern.

Rear View Mirror Use Lessons

Okay, let’s review.

First, use quality side-view mirrors so we can… “Watch for COPS!”

Second, properly adjust them so we can… correct, “Watch for COPS!”

So, pulling this all together, when driving we should be using our mirrors to… brilliant people, brilliant, we’re “Watching for COPS!”

All kidding aside, this isn’t a lesson on how to avoid traffic tickets.

This is how I learned to be a defensive driver.

I spend more time on the road than most people. I average about 25,000 miles yearly.

Let me tell you, very few police officers have snuck up on me.

Nowadays I’m very alert. My rear view skills have paid off.

I see everything. And that’s my point, “Watch for COPS!” and save your rear end.

Check, Check, Check, Check

I want to share something else with you. I have another simple yet helpful method.

Every time someone passes me, I check my mirrors.

If I see brake lights in front of me, I check my mirrors.

When I pass someone, I check my mirrors. When I pass an off-ramp, you guess it…

I check my mirrors!

Guys, here’s my point:

Those are key visual indicators. Defensive driving requires you to know what’s going on around you.

You need to be looking a few cars ahead of you as well as a few cars behind you.

Being involved in an accident can be avoided IF you train yourself to “Watch for COPS!”

Happy Motoring! And, don’t forget to look into a Blind Spot Mirror.