Good visibility while driving is paramount to roadway safety. Are your car mirrors adjusted correctly, or do you unknowingly create larger blind spots by following poor rules of thumb? Use this guide to help create nearly seamless visual contact all the way around your vehicle.
How to Adjust Your Car Mirrors
Carmakers have recently started offering blind-spot detection systems employing cameras and/or radar to scan behind the vehicle while backing up and the adjacent lanes while driving to improve safety. Unfortunately, only the newest car models come with these expensive features. For the rest of us, good old rear and side view mirrors are the only options.
Adjust the Rear View Mirror
This mirror is intended to provide a clear view of the lane behind you. Adjust it so the entire rear window is visible from the driver’s seat without needing to move your head.
If you stand 6 feet or taller, you may want to reposition the rear view mirror upside down. This raises the bottom of the mirror 1 to 2 inches and can substantially reduce a major blind spot that many taller drivers experience.
Adjust Side View Mirrors
Common misconception: The proper way to adjust side view mirrors is to hold your head still and align the edge of the mirror with the side of your car.
Problem: This merely reflects some of what is already shown in the rear view mirror while leaving a wider blind spot to the side of the car.
To properly adjust your side view mirrors:
- Lean to the left and rest your head on the window. Adjust the driver’s side view mirror so only a sliver of your car’s side is visible from this position.
- Lean to the right toward the center console and set the passenger’s side view mirror so you can barely see the side of your car from this position. If your vehicle lacks remote mirror adjustment controls, you may need assistance to properly position the passenger’s side view mirror.
Other Safety Measures
Along with adjusting the mirrors in your car or truck for the best possible visibility, don’t forget to:
- Familiarize yourself with this new mirror setting. If you’re accustomed to seeing a sliver of your car in each side view mirror while sitting straight, a more outward viewing angle may be disorienting at first. Park on the side of the road and watch how passing vehicles move through your rear and side view mirrors. When you’re ready, head out into traffic and put your new mirror settings to the test.
- Look over your shoulder to check blind spots before changing lanes. After all, even properly adjusted mirrors can’t eliminate all blind spots. This safety precaution further reduces the chance of getting in an accident.
- Set the rear view mirror for nighttime driving. Manual mirrors have a tab at the bottom you can flip to dim the lights of the cars charging up behind you. Power mirrors enter nighttime mode automatically to help prevent headlights from blinding you while you drive.
Driving Someone Else’s Car
When you get behind the wheel of your friend’s car, don’t forget to:
- Sit straight and adjust the rear view mirror.
- Lean left to adjust the driver’s side mirror.
- Lean right to adjust the passenger’s side mirror.
These mirror adjustments are important, no matter how short of a distance you’re driving.
If your friend’s car mirrors are adjusted based on poor rules of thumb, this is your chance to explain how to properly adjust car mirrors. Spread the word and make the road safer for all!