Correctly adjusted side mirrors remove the necessity of making any additional head or body movements, even when driving on a road with heavy traffic. You can get complete visual information about the road situation around the vehicle just moving the eyes from the side mirrors to the rear-view mirror, unless it comes to the so-called blind spots – some areas around your vehicle, which cannot be observed from the driver’s seat neither through the side-view mirrors nor through the rear-view mirror. While blind spots are covered in our special article, the following recommendations are provided to help drivers in setting side mirrors in the way that reduces blind spots to a minimum.
From Learners Permit Test to Behind-the-Wheel Practice
Reading the driver’s manual before the learners permit exam, you have already learned that you should set the vehicle mirrors prior to starting the engine – it is dangerous to adjust the mirrors while driving. Also, from the hand books for the DMV practice test you are sure to know that every driver needs to set the mirrors as he/she sees fit, since people of different height and build observe reflections of objects in the mirrors at different angles. Obviously, if nobody but you uses your vehicle, there is no need to adjust the side mirrors every time you get behind the wheel – just check that nobody moved them. But if the car is used by several people, setting the mirrors should become the same standard procedure as fastening the seat belt or using the parking brake before leaving the car. And don’t forget to adjust the side mirrors, when passing your driver’s license test on a DMV site (otherwise you will have at least one point subtracted from the score).
Let’s move to a practical part:
- Start adjusting from the left side mirror, since it has a priority for drivers in right-hand traffic countries. Lean towards the driver’s window touching the B-pillar with the left shoulder and tilting the head to the left, while setting the mirror so as to observe the vehicle quarter panel. When you go back to the upright position in the driver’s seat, you should observe only a small part of the vehicle rear, some limited space behind its trunk and the general view of what is happening at some distance. The visible part of the vehicle side should make up about a quarter of the reflection in the mirror when you are titled toward the window, and only 7-10 % after you regain the correct position in the driver's seat.
- Then lean toward the right window and set the mirror so that after returning to the correct position in the driver’s seat you could observe about 10% of the right side of the car. The idea is that through the side mirrors you should observe a small part of your car sides in order to understand its sizes, as well as some space behind the car, which is not reflected in the rear-view mirror. But at the same time, areas around the vehicle have to be clearly visible in order to avoid blind spots and the risk of an accident.
Now you can go back to the learners permit practice test and if you stumble across the exam questions about adjusting side mirrors or avoiding blind spots, you will be able to give correct answers.