Mirror Signal Manoeuvre – MSM Routine
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Why do we use the mirror signal manoeuvre routine?
Learning to drive can be quite a challenging process. When travelling at speed, changing direction and dealing with other road users, you need to be completely aware of your surroundings to avoid accidents or serious incidents while driving. As you learn to drive, you will encounter a number of different traffic situations such as roundabouts, dual carriageways and junctions and you need to develop a routine that allows you to navigate each safely and in a responsible way. Maintaining control of your vehicle at all times and being observant of the situation around you is essential and the MSM driving routine is one that will help you do that.
What is the mirror signal manoeuvre routine?
The acronym MSM stands for Mirror, Signal, Manoeuvre which is the routine you should go through whenever you take action while driving. The routine is used to help you become aware of the road around you, to spot potential hazards in good time and help you drive safely on a number of different road types. The manoeuvre section is further broken down into Position Speed Look and the Look section is broken down again into Look, Assess, Decide, Act.
It is important to check your mirrors as often as possible as you drive. You need to be aware of your immediate surroundings and the situation around you can change at any moment. Checking your mirrors when you approach a hazard or intend to take action on the road is the cornerstone of the MSM driving routine. You should look in your interior mirror and the side mirror of the direction you are travelling in or turning towards. Once you have looked, you now need to think about the situation you are facing and start processing whether it is safe to proceed or it requires additional patience. When you look in your mirrors you are looking for potential hazards such as overtaking vehicles, fast approaching motorcycles and weaving cyclists among other things. You need to ensure the direction you intend to turn in or travel towards is free before you proceed.
Once you have established it is safe to proceed and there are no potential hazards, you need to apply a signal in the direction you intend to turn in, informing other road users around you of your intentions. Always apply a signal if there are other road users including pedestrians who will benefit from the information and you can apply a signal with your indicators, brake lights or using an arm signal. Once you have applied a signal, do not assume that all vehicles around you will immediately respond to it, take a second to check your mirrors again to ensure they have understood your intentions before proceeding to the next step.
After checking your interior and side mirror for potential hazards and applying a signal to indicate your intentions, you are now ready to perform the manoeuvre aspect of the routine. At this point, the MSM driving routine is broken down further into Position, Speed and Look.
Whether you are turning left, right or overtaking, you need to be in the correct road position to complete the manoeuvre. You should ensure that you are not too close to the kerb when turning left, as this will cause you to mount the pavement, resulting in an automatic fail on your driving test. When turning right you need to be as close to the central line as possible to avoid impeding other vehicles travelling straight onwards.
As well as positioning yourself correctly, you also need to ensure that you pick the correct speed for the manoeuvre you are attempting. For example, a closed junction will require a low speed and gear combination as visibility will be reduced, while an open junction on a wide road may require you to use a higher gear and speed combination. Once you have chosen the appropriate speed, you need to look around once more before completing the manoeuvre.
You need to perform one final look before you complete the manoeuvre to ensure there are no last-minute changes to the road situation and this should also include a check of your blind spot. The look section of the manoeuvre can be broken down into Look, Assess, Decide, Act. It is important to check all the necessary mirrors and assess the situation thoroughly, actively decide whether or not to complete the manoeuvre based on what you see and if there is no impending danger, make a decision about the situation and commit to it. It’s important not to be hesitant or indecisive when driving, as this can lead to accidents. You also need to be mindful of how your actions will impact other road users around you and how their actions will affect your decisions too.
When should you use the mirror signal manoeuvre routine?
You should use the routine as often as possible when you drive and a few common examples of when it should be used include;
- Moving off and Stopping
- Changing direction or changing lanes
- Turning left and right
- On roundabouts
- When overtaking