“Always focus on the front windshield and not the rearview mirror.” That was the leadership advice of Colin Powell, former U.S. Secretary of State. While it may be a nice analogy, it is terrible advice when it comes to driving a car.

While you should spend most of your time looking through the glass in front of you, cars have three mirrors for a reason. You need to know what is going on around you when driving, not only what lies ahead. Many accidents are caused by drivers who get tunnel vision and forget to check their mirrors.

Experts recommend you carry out a quick scan of all three mirrors every 5 to 8 seconds. It allows you to spot anything to the rear or side of you. The reason you need to do it so frequently is that things change fast. When a driver in a crash says the other vehicle appeared from nowhere, it often means they were not checking their mirrors enough.

Before making any maneuver, it is vital to check your mirror to make sure your path is clear. Ideally, do this before indicating, then again before maneuvring. Checking your mirrors is also vital when backing into a parking space. Besides helping you line up, it lets you spot if someone has stepped into the road behind you.

Two-wheeled road users are particularly vulnerable to the actions of drivers who fail to check their mirrors. This is because they have no protection around them. Many have been seriously injured or killed as a result.

If you have been injured by another driver who pulled into your path, there is a good chance they were not using their mirrors. Seek legal help to understand your options.