How often should you check your mirror?

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  1. Astraist says:

    My experience is that the interior mirror should be checked once 5 seconds and the relevant side mirror – once every seven seconds.

    Now, as far as how the mirrors are aligned, we seem to disagree. It’s true that adjusting the mirrors as to see the quarterpanel of the car provides a good reference point and also allows to see directly to the back through the side mirrors, but it also creates considerable blind spots, increases glare and reduces the orientation of the driver because much of the information in the mirrors is superflous and overlapped in the three different mirrors.

    The method as I’ve learned it (and instruct it) is to open the mirrors further as to not see my own car at all, and than a bit further than that. Most cars have a smaller right-side mirror, in which case that mirror should be opened further out. The idea is to generate a wide enough field of vision in the side mirrors as to cover the blind spots at 7 and 4 O’Clock around the car. These are areas which are crucial for overtaking or switching lanes.

    When opened this far, the mirrors provide so wide a coverage so that any car (or even a bike) that will be one lane away from us to either side – will be seen in at least one of the mirrors at all times, untill it becomes noticable in our peripheral vision alongside us. This results in the elimination of any effective blind spot around the car!

    Another advantage is that this angle reduces glare so that following drivers with high beams don’t reflect in the side mirrors unless they are passing us, thus they cannot dazzle us through the interior mirror, and only dazzle us temporarily (if at all) through the side mirrors when they pass us.

    The last advantage is that the overlap between the mirrors is reduced to a minimum (but not eliminated!) so that we only see the relevant information in the mirror, no unnessecary “extras.” Also, if there is any particular need to get a glimpse at our own car (such as in parking or when we need to look behind us in the side mirrors), we can simply tilt the head slightly to see it.

    It’s a bit strange to not be able to see that “silver” in the mirror, but it’s something that one can grow used to within a matter of three weeks or so.

    • safedriver says:

      Thanks again for your comment. The most common type of collison reported is a rear crash; not a side swipe. If the side mirrors are aligned to see down the side of the vehicle, the driver can see past the large vehicle sitting behind them. This means they can see if the second vehicle is slowing enough. If they aren’t, they’ll have a chance to move out of the way. Checking your mirror every 5 to 8 seconds also means you’ll need to use your short term memory. This will keep you up to date of who’s entering your blind spot. Mirrors need to be set up for the driver’s advantage, not just for convenience.

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  3. Most people agree that we should check mirrors frequently, but needs slight clarification. I think you need to check mirrors if you are approaching a situation where you may need to change your status on road, ie change your speed or position on the road.

  4. Heather says:

    “How often should you check your mirror? | The Safe Driver” ended up being
    a perfect article. If perhaps it owned alot more photos this
    should be possibly even more beneficial. Regards -Georgia

  5. Sylvia says:

    I have a question which falls in this general category: When should you NOT dim your rear view mirror? I only dim (darken, flip) the rear view mirror on unlit country roads when headlights behind me can be blinding. I don’t dim the rear view for city driving, because it cuts out too much detail and headlights in the city aren’t blindingly bright. What is the “official” way, and/or does it really matter in the city? PS. Great column, thanks!

    • safedriver says:

      You should never dim the rear view mirror when there’s no need for it. Other than when the driver behind has their high beam’s on, there’s really never any other time. The only exception would be if your vehicle is a little lower to the road than the vehicle behind and their headlights are directly in the path of your rear view mirror while stopped (ie: a large truck). All other times you need a good view from the mirror. Thanks for the comment and thanks for reading!

  6. Chris thomas says:

    I think you need to check mirrors if you are approaching a situation where you may need to change your status on road, ie change your speed or position on the road.

  1. November 19, 2009

    […] recently written an article for The Driver magazine outlining when the mirrors should be checked ( ), but here’s another debate to bring up; mirror set up. How should the mirrors be set up to […]

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