How to Set your Car’s Rear-View Mirrors to Eliminate the ‘Blind Spot’

Several years ago USAA, my automobile insurance company, sent out some instructions on how to set your car rear-view mirrors so you can eliminate the blind spots that normally occur when you are driving and another car is on one side or the other. I’m sure you’ve had it happen to you – you are cruising along and for whatever reason you want to change lanes. You check your rear-view mirror – nothing there to worry about. You check your side mirror – nothing there either.  You put on your turn signal and start to change lanes. Then it happens, a loud car horn sounds and you jump back into your lane muttering to yourself, “where the (expletive deleted) did he come from?”

That’s exactly the spot you can eliminate if your mirrors are set properly.

I got in touch with USAA to try to have them send me a copy of the instructions so I could share them with you.  No one there could find them, but a search of the Internet did bring some results. Here’s the information from the combined versions of Car and Driver Magazine and wikiHow.

It turns out that this information was first published in a paper by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) in 1995.  The paper advocates adjusting the mirrors so far outward that the viewing angle of the side mirrors just overlaps that of the cabin’s rear-view mirror. This can be disorienting for drivers used to seeing the flanks of their own car in the side mirrors. But when correctly positioned, the mirrors negate a car’s blind spots. This obviates the need to glance over your shoulder to safely change lanes as well as the need for an expensive blind-spot warning system.

The only issue is getting used to the SAE-recommended mirror positions. The cabin’s rear-view mirror is used to keep an eye on what is coming up from behind, while the outside mirrors reflect the area outside the view of the inside rear-view mirror.

Here is a link to the wikiHow site to get the actual steps for how to set your mirrors:

Car and Driver says, “Those who have switched to the SAE’s approach swear by it, however, some drivers can’t adjust to not using the outside mirrors to see directly behind the car and miss being able to see their own car in the side mirrors. To them we say, “Have fun filling out those accident reports.”

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