Watch for COPS Method of Defensive Driving (part 1)

February 11, 2010

CHP Officer Writing a TicketHave you ever stopped to consider that the most valuable defensive driving capability you have at your disposal might very well be your mirrors? Theres an old saying that many Ferrari owners use that goes some thing like Whats a behind you, she no matter! While the adage may play into the forward velocity capability of powerful sports cars, it does not speak to driver blind spots or the idiots coming up behind you in traffic.

Until a couple of years ago, I classified myself as one of the worst speeders on the road. I was not a weaver or a lane cutter, just a speeder. After getting two back-to-back tickets from Californias finest, I went to driving school as a way to lick my wounds.

Unlike other driving schools, the instructor of this course was a stand-up comedian. I mean I literally rolled on the floor laughing.  What I took away from the class (besides sore ribs), was this:

Watch for COPS!

Watch for COPS! What a simple thing. Right? Yeah, well, if its so easy why did you get your last traffic ticket?

Its not easy.

We were all taught to look in our mirrors frequently.  Unfortunately, most of us get lazy and don't practice this life saving skill.

Watch for COPS! The statement is not as much about avoiding tickets as it is about being mindful of whats going on around you on the road. How? Simple, really, look ahead, look behind, and look to your sides.

Most drivers rely on their mirrors most when they are changing lanes to avoid getting in another driver's way. If this is how you use your mirrors, then Im afraid youre missing the point.  In fact, you're probably well on your way to becoming yet another road casualty, and youre a hazard to me!

Proper mirrors are the defensive drivers best weapon against idiots and COPS (with all due respect to our officers of civil peace). Proper use of rearview mirrors is the skill of the defensive driver.

Proper mirror adjustment comes from a defensive drivers knowledge.  In the next two segments of this three part series, that exactly what were going to discuss.  So, stay tuned and lets explore mirrors and how to properly adjustment them in a little more detail.


David Bynon is an automotive industry blogger, online community builder, computer science author, and co-author of multiple patents for car care products.  Founder and former owner of the Autopia forum, Bynon loves finely detailed vehicles of all makes and vintage.  You can tune-in to his blog at or follow him on

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