Shoulder checks: the why, when and how


Doing a proper shoulder check can be the difference between passing your road test or not. But, more importantly, a shoulder check can save you from a car accident and quite literally save your life.

In this blog post, we’ll talk about how to do a proper shoulder check and when to do it.

Why do a shoulder check

Doing a shoulder check is essentially all about safety. The purpose of a shoulder check is to see your blind spots. Even when your side mirrors are adjusted properly, there are still huge areas that you can’t see in your mirrors. Your driving instructor will demonstrate to you where those are during your lessons.

When to do shoulder checks

You need to do a shoulder check any time you change lanes, change direction or turn. You also need to do a shoulder check when you pull out from the side of the road or as you pull over to the side of the road.

Doing shoulder checks properly 

Do a shoulder check to the direction at which you are turning. Look at least 45 degrees over your shoulder in the direction you plan to move to.

At SenSen Driving School, we recommend doing two shoulder checks at every right turn. Do the first one when you signal. This one is done to make sure you are aware of your surroundings. For example, if you see a cyclist on the road, you have enough time to appropriately react.

The second shoulder check is done before you decide you want to turn. You want to check a second time because if you had to stop at an intersection with a stop sign or red light, a cyclist could catch up to you and pull right beside you without you even noticing.

When you are turning left, only one shoulder check is required. It is done before you decide you want to turn. Look for pedestrians crossing the street who are parallel with you on the left side.

Pass your road test with flying colours

Missing shoulder checks is one of the top reasons why new drivers fail their ICBC road test. It’s important that you make this a habit early on. Your driving instructor will work with you to make sure that this important and potentially life-saving habit becomes second nature.

As always, drive safe, drive smart and drive with confidence.

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