Mark Frauenfelder at 1:28 pm Tue, Dec 13, 2011
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My dad told me about this a couple of months ago. Now I always adjust my car's sideview mirrors this way. From Car & Driver via Lifehacker.
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. His latest book is Made by Hand: My Adventures in the World of DIY
Meet Jeopardy!'s new master--and his controversial strategy [Podcast interview]
True Detective ends its first season as it began: with two indelible performances [Recap: season 1, episode 8]
What a surprise – I never saw it coming.
Not to sound snarky, but I thought this was common knowledge? My driving instructor told me that if I could see any part of my own car in my side mirrors, I was doing it wrong.
I’m with you! So is this implying that it is no longer taught this way? I am always annoyed by drivers that I see twisting theirs heads around like Regan in The Exorcist instead of using their mirros intelligently. Its nice to feel smug when I can track all the action around me without moving my head off of the headrest.
You should still shoulder check each and every time you change lanes even when your mirrors are properly adjusted. It’s one of those little things that you do to be extra safe.
There is still a blind spot, no matter what. If you don’t turn and look, you’ll miss the car 2 lanes over moving into the lane next to you, which is a problem, if you are ALSO moving into the lane next to you. Two cars attempting to simultaneously occupy one patch of road is always bad.
True. Happened to me once. Noticed at the last minute and barely avoided a collision.
If you manually check your blind spot you know whether something is there or not. If you rely on your mirrors you’ll only know if they haven’t been maladjusted.
There’s a reason you’ll fail your driver’s test if you rely on mirrors.
Additionally, when you’re making a right turn, shoulder-checking is very important. Bicycles may sneak up on your right side, and if you’re focused on other traffic and/or pedestrians, you may miss the cyclist in your blind spot.
“There’s a reason you’ll fail your driver’s test if you rely on mirrors.”
In your country maybe. In the UK there is no requirement to check the blindspot in the driving test, and everyone I know was not taught to do so. Mainly because you cannot drive on the motorway on a learners license, and for the test you may only do 1 mile on a duel carriageway, and will never leave the left hand lane.
I’m in the UK and was definitely taught to do shoulder checks, they’ve saved me on many occasions. My driving instructor was an ex-traffic cop, so it may be instructor dependant.
When I taught my friend about this after he passed his test he was shocked at how much you can miss when you just rely on the mirrors.
On your motorcycle we refer to these as “lifesavers”, and you WILL fail your test if you don’t do them. (Plus motorcycle mirrors tend to be fairly useless at speed)
Depends when. There is no requirement to check the blindspot when changing lanes- indeed an instructor actually told me not to, though I still do. On the other hand, you will fail if you don’t check your blind spot when moving off.
Even with the mirrors properly adjusted, there is often some blind spot, one just big enough for that jerk on the Ninja that was weaving through traffic at high speed and you never saw in your rear view mirror.
That is called evolution.
Hmm. When were you taught to drive? Because five years ago when I took Driver’s Ed, this was being taught as the ‘new and improved’ method.
But we were also taught ALWAYS turn your head and look anyway, because you still can’t completely eliminate blindspots.
My instructor said to Always check first, rather than signalling, otherwise you get into a habit of signalling, looking, and then moving, which is hard to interrupt if you actually see something.
Better to check first, Then make a decision about whether you’re going to move.
When were you taught to drive?
As a Californian, I find that question hilarious. What is this ‘teaching’ that you speak of? We just keep taking the test until we randomly pass.
In Massachusetts, we got time off from school to practice on a crazy simulated driving-on-ice track, but I don’t recall ever learning how to adjust my mirrors. It wasn’t until I bought a used car that someone had already attached an aftermarket blind spot mirror to that I fully understood the concept.
I completed many hours of driving instruction, but there was very little teaching involved. I still remember my first lesson… The guy had me sit in the driver’s seat, and without teaching me anything, told me to drive down the street and get on the freeway.
I’m not the kind of person who is more concerned with feeling superior to others than with making sure I don’t have a car accident. I adjust my mirrors, but I still shoulder check. That’s what all that yoga is good for anyway.
You are smarter than everyone else, but not smart enough to know it’s not common knowledge!
Isn’t that like, a thing? Where smart people assume everyone else is as smart as they are so they never get an advantage from it, while a person of average intelligence who learns a few clever tricks can con others because they know how easy it would be to fool them?
By “thing,” I’m sure you mean “cognitive blind spot.” Oughta be mirrors for that!
I’ve noticed people adjusting their side mirrors wrong, but never really understood what was so interesting about the side of your own car.
One thing that can be difficult to gauge with the mirrors adjusted outward is distance. If you can see the corner of your car in the mirror it gives you a gauge to judge the distance by.
That. That’s why I’d rather see a bit of my car than eliminate a blind spot. I want to have a reference point so I can see where the cars I see in the miror actually are.
My driving instructors (and if I recall, the state booklet) said something like that the side mirrors should be angled so that you can see the edge of the bumper of your car. This is an impossible thing, as far as I can tell.
Unless you’re driving a kleenex box, you can’t actually see your gas cap either.
I’m still trying to work out a reliable angle to throw SUV headlights back at them. Would be a nice bonus if a blind-spot-compatible adjustment could do this as well.
This should also at least keep other people’s headlights from bouncing into your eyes
Rear-mounted HID lights on a push button do the trick. Does wonders on tailgaters, too.
Such a thing has occurred to me, but just seems a tad extreme.
I wonder if it’s street-legal, too, or if the police will take kindly to it even if it is legal. Seems to me that while they don’t give a damn that SUV-driving douchebags shine their highbeams into the smaller cars many of us drive all the time, the police would probably notice if you were aggressively using rear-mounted high-power lights.
In addition, if you do ever need to see your own vehicle in the sideviews (backing up, checking clearance), you can still lean to the side to put your car back into view.
Whenever I’m in a new car or have changed the seat in mine, I run this test – let a car pass you, and follow it in the mirrors. It should never be absent from the rearview without being present in the sideview. It should never be absent from the sideview without being present in the window (while looking at your mirror!).
Repeat for the other side of the car, and you’ll have derived this solution for yourself. I’d been doing this for years before seeing instructions like this, though I don’t think anyone ever told me to. Lots of people to whom I’ve offered this advice have pushed back insisting that you have to see at least a little bit of your own car in the mirrors for a reference. Just isn’t necessary for me, though.
When I first get in a car (or someone’s moved my mirrors) I put my head against the side window and adjust the left side mirror outward until the back of my car just goes out of view.
Then I position my head roughly in the center of the car and adjust the right side mirror out the same way.
It’s a good base to start from. After fifteen-plus years, I’ve gotten it down where no further adjustments are needed.
I do the same as Surly Driver. Heard about this several years ago on CarTalk. And this is NOT how I was originally taught in the late ’60s.
What’s a “blind spot”?
/on behalf of all California drivers
Taught? I don’t think it was ever taught in driver’s ed (unless by an unusually aware instructor). The first I heard of it was about ten years ago, and I’ve been preaching it ever since. An amazing number of people are resistant to it, claiming that if they can’t see the side of their car in the mirror, they have no spatial reference for any objects in it.
I have the same problem when I explain this concept to people. I usually tell them to imagine that the inside edge of the mirror is where the side of your car is.
This is how we were taught when I took driver’s ed, but that was only about 5 years ago.
But how will I know which side my gas tank is on?
Get a marker and a piece of masking tape. Write “Gas tank is over here —>” on the masking tape and then stick it somewhere on your console. Make sure the arrow points the right way.
When your friends mock the hell out of you for needing this reminder, point out that you’re old and they should get the hell off your lawn.
I’ll just point out that I only get gas about four times per year.
Lucky you! I eat a lot of bean soups, so…
I recommend placing that tape on your dash, right under the fuel icon. That way you’ll have TWO arrows pointing to the side of your car the tank is on since most cars actually already print this information as a little arrow right there on the dash next to the – you guessed it – fuel gauge.
Handy in a rental car but it seems as soon as we own a car, we lose the ability to see this little icon.
Most new cars have an arrow on the little fuel pump icon that points to the correct side.
The little arrow on the gas pump symbol on the gauge points to the fill side.
Doh. Grr. Ugh.
Your gas gauge (on the dashboard) has a little arrow on it. The sharp end should point toward the thing with the hose.
He drives a zither.
I almost made that comment myself.
In the Futuristic Technological Paradise that we call the United Kingdom, we have hoses which reach the far side of the car.
We do have those in the US, but it’s not universal and you can’t always tell if it’s that type before you get out (unless the station has big signs that say they have those, which they usually, but not always, have).
But even so, it’s awkward and uncomfortable to actually do that – which is why if you go to a gas station with hoses that reach the far side, you will practically never see people actually doing so, and you may even see people lining up to use a pump with the right side for their car when there is another open space (on the wrong side).
I know, I wasn’t being entirely serious. I don’t think I’ve ever noticed anyone in the States filling their car from the “wrong” side; not that it’s particularly common over here. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen cars at my local station lining up on one side of a pump, with the other side empty; I’ll always go on the empty side.
Hehe, yes, I knew you weren’t being particularly serious. I too will go on the inexplicably empty side in such situations, but I’ll generally try to fit in the “right” way. It helps that I drive a car with the filler on the right (literally the right) side; most cars in the US tend to have them on the left (though this seems to be changing in the past few years).
Most newer cars have a gas tank icon near the odometer and a small arrow indicating which side the gas tank is on.
Even if you’ve adjusted your mirrors following these instructions, please don’t assume that you’ve got everything covered, and look over your shoulder before making a lane change.
Dear Porsche Drivers,
In their wisdom, Porsche engineers provided you with perfectly serviceable turn signals. Please use them, as well as checking your blind spots, since we lesser drivers aren’t necessarily all staring at your awesome ride in envy, so your lane changes aren’t always anticipated by the hoi polloi. Please pardon our inattention, but believe it or else, we’ve seen cars just like yours every single day. They’re not as attention-grabbing as you think.
The Motoring Public
In my experience, Prius drivers are much less likely to use signals than Porsche. Prius drivers are the worst on the road.
Still not as bad as cyclists, no?
Sorry, no.* Mustang drivers take that honor.
*Prius driver here.
Is that any worse than Volvo drivers who just keep their signals on all the time?
I am a Volvo driver and I use my turn signals only when I plan on making a turn. Which could be at any time. Hence…
In my experience, the ABSOLUTE WORSE are Mercedes drivers. EVERY GODDAMN TIME I see someone sitting in the left lane doing 10 below the speed limit, for example, it’s ALWAYS a Mercedes. They’re also prone to not using turn signals, cutting people off, and just generally being dicks.
Ironically, every Mercedes driver I’ve ever met likes to brag about how good they are at driving…while they do things like blowing out the transmission to try to save the break pads. But I guess they generally buy a new car before the warranty expires anyway, so the transmission isn’t their problem.
I have found this so true that any time I need a car to perform an asshole maneuver in a piece of fiction I am writing, I make it either a Mercedes or a BMW.
Of course Mercedes and MBW are on the left lane. That’s the only lane one can do 250 for a bit of time.
Prius drivers are the worst on the road.
I fear you are conflating Prius drivers with their most substantial subset: Angelenos.
Anyway, I’ve actually seen Prius drivers use turn signals and reasonable following distances. Never seen a Porsche driver use either; it’s beneath them. They’re not tailgating (nor are they “drafting,” since they’re beyond any question the most aerodynamic bastards on the road today). They’re just reminding you that you’re way too slow and unimportant to be in front of them.
But they’re not the worst drivers. The most consistently irritating driver behavior by make and model has to be that exhibited by drivers of ninth- and tenth-generation Ford Thunderbirds (1983-1997). I wish I could understand why this should be so, but I can’t remember the last time I saw one of these cars piloted by anything less than a Grade-A asshole. I’m sure they’re perfectly nice people on the sidewalk, or piloting a shopping cart through Trader Joe’s. But on the road they’re diabolical menaces, to a man. I’m sure even Porsche drivers blow past them thinking, “Man, what an inconsiderate lout.”
Dear BMW drivers,
It is a pernicious and untrue rumor that your Ultimate Driving Machine must only use metric blinker fluid. Your dealer is charging you a huge markup on the imported stuff. As you’ve learned, it is considered a ‘consumable’ so it’s not covered by your maintenance contract.
You can use domestic blinker fluid – it works just as well, does not violate your lease terms, and is available at any service station. It’s pretty expensive stuff – and consequently, it’s behind the counter, so you’ll need to ask the attendant. They may seem puzzled at first, but be persistent!
hoi polloi = the masses
the hoi palloi = the the masses
Ima just sayin is all
Yeah, I know. But I’m always afraid that when I mention something about hoi polloi (especially when I don’t italicize), someone’s gonna think I’m using it as a proper noun, albeit uncapitalized.
Then again, I should consider the audience. We’re not really hoi polloi around here, are we?
Nyuk nyuk nyuk.
Sure, credit Car & Driver, even though they stole it from Click & Clack:
who credit the National Safety Council.
The brothers have been preachin’ about this for years.
I learned to drive nearly 20 years ago and adjusting the mirrors so you could see the side of the car was how I was taught (by an otherwise quite competent driving instructor (I passed my driver’s test on the first try)). I only ever “properly” adjusted them after hearing Car Talk explain both how and why.
I should note that I, like others, do not exclusively rely on my mirrors but having them adjusted so that an approaching vehicle slides smoothly from your rearview mirror to a side mirror to, simply, to your normal field of vision (as you are looking at one of the side mirrors) means that your blind spot is reduced almost to nothing.
Mirrors should only be used for cursory checks, and because of this, the specifics of their positioning doesn’t really matter. Aim them so headlights don’t blind you, and you’re done.
If you aren’t checking over your shoulder before changing lanes, you’re doing it wrong and it’s only a matter of time before you (at best) wreck someone or (at worst) kill a cyclist.
This is one thing that drives me crazy about a lot of newer cars – no matter how I crane my head, I can’t hardly see anything out of the windows, and must rely totally on the mirrors. Something about the way the headrests are designed, or the shape of the windows, or something, all I ever can see is bits of car interior, grr.
It’s the safety regulations for rollovers that have caused the B-Pillars to balloon up to outrageous size and block line of sight to the blind spot. It’s one of those ironic twists where safety regulation can make the road less safe.
I don’t adjust my mirrors this way for a couple reasons. First, I often have something that blocks my rear window, either my huge dog or bikes on a bike rack. Second, I use my side mirrors for parallel parking. If they were adjusted way off to the sides, I wouldn’t know where exactly my car is in relation to the curb and the car behind me.
The more problematic blind spot is the one on the driver’s side, and you rarely need to use that mirror to parallel park, so you could adjust that one mirror and gain most of the benefit.
I never really fully understood the need to “see your car” in the side mirrors. However, this method of “eliminating all blind spots!” seems like it could potentially create lazy drivers who aren’t paying attention to what is happening in their mirrors, and who will also be less likely to turn their neck before merging.
Maybe that was the point of creating a blind spot with the mirrors in the first place, to make sure people are actually looking? Alternatively, it would be NOTHING for the government to require full view rear mirrors and side mirrors with dual panels or even the bubble mirror thingies. With such a wide variety of choices on the aftermarket, I’m not sure why automobile manufacturers don’t do this anyway?
I’ve been googling this story, and I keep finding statements like: “You won’t need to swivel your neck around to be aware of traffic hiding at 60 mph right beside you.” – Popular Mechanics. This sounds like a horrible idea.
Maybe that was the point of creating a blind spot with the mirrors in the first place, to make sure people are actually looking?
No, I’m sure it was just a function of smallish, stylish mirrors not covering the whole area. Blind spots are problems because people aren’t aware that they have them, not because people believe that they should always turn their heads to look but decide they’re just not going to.
I think it’s advantageous to orient one’s mirrors in the way described above; I’ve been doing so since the late 80s. Mirrors are a tool to augment one’s situational awareness, not a crutch to replace actual head-turning before making a maneuver in that direction. I check my mirrors often, just a split-second glance every so often so I know what’s around me. I turn my head before lane changes and turns because mirrors give me incomplete information; knowledge that this mirror-information is incomplete is crucial to safe driving.
It would be silly to aim my mirrors at my rear quarterpanels just to remind me that my blind spots exist and I should turn my head. Mirrors are much better at affording rear visibility than they were forty years ago. Using them properly is just another tool in the Safe Driver toolbox.
I read through all this, trying to figure out what other way there is to adjust your mirrors. No idea still.
The old way was to adjust them so that the sides of your car are just barely visible in the side mirrors. The proper way is to adjust them so that the sides of your car are just barely NOT visible in the side mirrors.
This method was published in the journal of the Society of Automotive Engineers in about 1995. I used to send photocopies in my Christmas cards. Some of my friends laughed, some still thank me when I see them.
This won’t really help to check for someone two lanes over who’s trying to shift into the same lane and doesn’t see you or your blinker. Only turning your head to check will give you this. I prefer a sweeping eye motion: glance at your blind spot, then sweep your eyes back around, checking for cars two lanes over who have their blinkers on or might otherwise decide to merge into your door.
Edit: Also, put on your blinker BEFORE checking all this. The ol’ turn-on-your-blinker-in-the-middle-of-a-lane-shift move helps no one.
Thank you for not being an idiot. Wish we had more drivers like you on the roads…
no, no,no : check BEFORE you blink, then ACT.
Now somebody needs to solve the “guy-behind-me-with-his-fucking-brights-on” problem
A strategic, quick application of the emergency brake will completely destroy most offensive headlights directly behind you.
Of course, you’ll probably end up late to wherever it is you’re going as well, but you’ll have taught them a lesson!
at least you know he is there.
That’s just a cop testing his new ‘non-permanent-blinding’ laser on you.
Tangential to cops and brights:
Recently the cops were directing traffic at a large intersection at night. They wanted to block left turns from the side of the intersection opposite to me, so they had a police car parked in the left turn lane on that side with its lights going. This meant its ultra-bright, strobing headlights were aimed directly at my eyes for several minutes while I waited for my turn.
Then they got mad when I couldn’t see them waving their dim orange light-up batons to tell me to proceed.
I find flashing my rear fog lights at least vents some frustration.
This was solved years ago. Just flip the little switch below your mirror to use the night time rearview mirror. Or tilt it if you have an older model.
Jan, the side mirrors don’t have this. My rear-view mirror automatically dims because I live in the Future ™ but my side mirrors are a) dumb and b) lack a handy switch or easy way to tip them.
Getting a highbeam from my side mirror is horrible :(
With the side mirrors configured as above, you’ll only see the lights of a nearby car when they are beside you—that’s one of the major side benefits of this method.
SMOG – Signal, Mirror, Over the shoulder, Go. It’s how I drive. That, and the fact that I drive a drive a Volvo 240 with my signals on all the time…
Spend $10 and get some attachable parabolic (“fisheye”) mirrors for the bottom of your sideviews. I live in the Bay Area, and I have never been anywhere more chock full o’ people who seem to delight in drafting in someone’s blind spot. Those parabolics have prevented scrapes more than a few times.
This is the only way to see what is out there, get the largest fisheye that will fit on your mirror and never adjust again!
Or completely cover your side mirror with little fisheye mirrors, so you can pretend you are Jeff Goldblum as the Fly.
I have adjusted my mirrors like this, but I still do the over the shoulder method as well. Better than getting in an accident.
It’s been touched on a few times already but I’ll make a singular post about this now, this mirror configuration is an extremely dangerous idea!
I know everyone will say “oh but I still CHECK the blindspot before I change lanes.” but creating the false impression that you don’t need to leads to a tendency not to.
I’ve been clipped off my bike a couple of times due to this very mirror configuration. And while it’s all well and good for a fairly Zen fellow like myself who now stays pretty keyed-in to the movement of motorists and can take a fall well – you’re going to have a very very bad day [month/year/life] if you merge into a young person on a bike and turn them into a paraplegic, but maybe that’s the price you pay for having slightly more convenient mirrors… ?
I would recommend keeping the non blind spot wing mirror orientation and if the lack of field of rear view is really bugging you, grab one of those parabolic attachments for both wing mirrors. [There is a reason almost every truckie has them]
I find that keeping my concentration on what is around me at all times helps me to avoid accidents with two four and even more wheeled vehicles. But I guess as I started out by riding a motorbike I drive slightly more intelligently than most other drivers.
Aim the mirrors as described in the article, point them at your head, tear them off the car… no configuration precludes doing head checks.
I suspect people not using this configuration won’t be any more likely to actually check their blind spots even though they’re bigger. I also suspect people using this configuration will either be equally likely to check or actually a little more likely to check, because using this configuration means you’re actually aware that blind spots exist.
I’m mostly basing this on myself — since I started using this configuration, I’ve become hyper-aware of my blind spots. Every time I check my mirrors, this awareness gets reinforced, because I think “Wait, where’s the side of my car? Oh right, blind spots.”
Also, checking over my shoulder is a conditioned response for me. It’s as automatic for me as knowing which side is the brake. It would be harder for me not to check over my shoulder.
I didn’t have a particularly hardcore driver’s ed curriculum or anything, just regular public school driver’s ed and driving with my parents, and my parents aren’t professional drivers or anything, just regular people. So I wonder where people learn to drive that they don’t have this programmed into them.
Frankly I don’t know why manufactures don’t just make the side mirrors curved to begin with.
We have seats that heat and cool y0u butt, but don’t put a semi-parabolic mirror as standard equipment. Well I guess Mercedes now has that car positioning system that tells you what is around you, which I suppose is nice if you can afford or want to drive a Merc.
My Audi has convex side mirrors, as has the last 2 or 3, I thought this sort of thing had now become standard practice for all manufacturers.
Just checked, my vauxhall has a wide angle mirror on the drivers side. Doesn’t help much when moving left!
Another great tip:
If possible, try to minimize the amount of time you spend in the other driver’s blind spot! help them see you by either speeding up along side or falling back a car length.
That is not just a great tip. It could be the Best Tip. If your front bumper is in the neighborhood of their rear hubcap, there’s a very good chance that they can’t see you at all. Do not linger in that position.
This is great information for the one or two percent who have their brains engaged while driving. If we can just figure out a way to give this bit of driving wisdom to the brain-dead McDonalds-eating, mobile-talking, radio-fiddling blind-spot-occupying 98%, we’ll be getting somewhere.
Don’t adjust your side mirrors this way if you’re towing a trailer or if your inside mirror’s view is blocked. That’s why they make those wide-angle side mirrors. Just sayin’.
No thanks, Ill keep adjusting my Mirrors the usual way. That way I can use ‘em for backing up!
Dudez, at an auto parts store (or probably even Walmart) you can get small adhesive-backed circular convex mirrors that you can stick on to the bottom corner of your side-view mirrors. They cost maybe $2. Problem quickly and permanently solved.
Not really, because except in the best conditions you can’t really see anything in them. But you also can’t get one that’s big enough to actually see anything in, unless you don’t mind blocking half of the regular mirror in the process.
And what’s wrong with blocking the regular side mirrors? They’re useless. I’ve been using stick-on convex mirrors this way for 35 years; I always buy the largest size that will fit on the side mirrors. No blind spot, no turning your head.
And while we’re on the subject, I think that, for most drivers, turning one’s head back over one’s shoulder while shooting down a car-packed highway is iffy at best, dangerous at worst. A good convex mirror (i.e., not one of those weak-tea convex mirrors that sometimes come as original equipment) is the best way to go.
Well, when properly aligned (my method is about the same as in the diagram here) modern side mirrors are quite good – though some are definitely better than others. If you’ve been blocking them out since 35 years ago, perhaps you don’t realize this? ;)
I took off the stick-on convex mirror I had on the driver’s side, because it made my mirror visibility worse. It was big enough to see things in, but no matter where I put it on the mirror it was blocking a spot I wanted to be able to see.
What’s ideal is a combination of the two types of mirrors, like trucks and buses and so on have – not overlapping each other. When I’ve driven vehicles with such a setup, I was very happy (and of course I don’t know how you could possibly drive such vehicles without good mirrors!) This is more difficult with small cars, of course. I think the new slightly-convex side mirrors some cars have are the solution, but it’ll take time for cheap cars to get those too.
My old 1968 F250 Camper Special had large rectangular flat mirrors on big brackets that stuck way out (to see beyond the camper shell, naturally), with smaller convex mirrors mounted below them. The big ones were useful to see what was behind the truck, and the small convex ones allowed me to see what was alongside the truck. I felt pretty comfortable driving with those, but as you say, you don’t usually find such mirror setups on small cars. My truck also had one of those wide multi-panel rearview mirrors across the width of the windshield, which worked great when the camper was off, but didn’t do me any good at all when the camper was on.
I once owned a 1962 Buick Skylark, a cute little 2-door that was about the same size as a ’65 Mustang. The previous owner was the original owner, who had bought it new when he was already middle-aged, and sold it more or less when he died. You could tell it had been an Old Man’s Car. It had curb-feelers on all four corners (not just the passenger side, which would have been normal), and the guy had added several aftermarket mirrors. There was the original rearview mounted near the center-top of the windshield. The original driver’s sideview mounted just outside (and partially blocked by) the wing window. A dealer-installed passenger-side mirror that mostly matched the driver’s side one. And two Pep Boys aftermarket sideview mirrors mounted on the front fenders about twelve inches in front of the other sideview mirrors.
Guy always knew just where he’d been. For what it’s worth, for a 30-year-old car (at the time I bought it), it had a perfectly straight body and had never been wrecked. So there’s that.
No wonder some people double park!
Actually I totally disagree with this article. The mirrors are used not just for driving, but for lining up the vehicle for parking. If you don’t use your mirrors for parking, then you are doing it wrong.Also, the mirrors give another view of what is behind you moreso than the rearview center mirror. If you do not do shoulder checks, you are asking for trouble.If you want to see your blind spot, take a hint from the heavy truckers who spend more time on the road than you or I, get a fish eye lens and attach it to your mirrors. Leave the mirrors aligned so you can see what is directly behind you.
That’s ridiculous. Parallel parking is possible without using the side mirrors at all.
I could parallel park without using side mirrors, but I’m not sure I could reverse round a corner without the mirrors being in the “wrong” position, so I can see the kerb in relation to the car. As the latter is part of the UK driving test, and hitting the kerb or drifting too far out is a fail, I suspect I would be keeping them in that position.
When I took my test in the UK, I adjusted the mirrors before doing the manoeuvre (unless it was the turn in the road).
I’m quite certain my mirrors are useless for lining up parking, though I do use the center mirror for the last foot or so.
But I know how large my car is.
If you have proper mirrors this isn’t a problem – just a little time with them properly adjusted as shown and it will be second nature. Parking is a little tougher, I love the Audi because the right mirror tilts in and down when the car is in reverse, allowing a perfect back into a parking spot – you do back in don’t you ;-).
Here in Toronto all the rage is covering up your semi-useful if improperly aligned mirror with a stupid convex mirror so you have no grasp of the distance of anything. I’ve been cut off by more of these geniuses than even the people who like to watch the sides of their car on the highway. New Fords also seem to have a similar if less obtrusive top outer corner portion of the mirror done this way – my current rental Focus has it and its useless. Covers up an important part of the mirror to give you a tiny duplicate of the same thing. Hope its a delete option.
Has everyone quite finished now? It’s like being trapped by Jeremy Clarkson at a party.
Where my left-side mirror says “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear”, I place a hand-made sticker that says “Things are not what they seem” and that helps me keep everything in perspective.
Pop quiz: how many rear view mirrors does a car need? Those of you with half your side mirrors showing your own car answered 3, which incorrect. Most of the time you really even need the one, except to satisfy your own curiosity. Almost everything you can see in your rearview (while you’re going forward of course) is Somebody Else’s Problem.
Incidentally, whenever someone in front of me is driving incompetently, I look at their side mirror. 95% of the time I can see their head perfectly centered.
Um, no see, the people behind you and to your SIDES are often either going into your lane, or occupying the space you would like to be in THEIR lane. Preventing two cards from occupying the same space is kind of important…
This is a complete load of rubbish. Awareness of what’s going on around your vehicle is the difference between driving defensively and driving obliviously. If you’re not checking a side mirror and the rearview mirror every 10 seconds or so driving in the city then you’re doing it wrong.
Drivers who never check their mirrors tend to ‘compensate’ by going ten miles under the speed limit, with their left turn signal on and one foot on the gas/one foot on the brake.
Just in case.
Relying solely on your mirrors is foolish. Why, back when I learned to drive, we didn’t even have mirrors on the passenger side. :P
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