Car Mirror Safety
George Platzer, a member of the Society of
Automotive Engineers and a consultant who holds several patents on
mirror design, has developed a simple rearview mirror-adjustment
system that eliminates blind spots and gives drivers 20-20
Rotate your mirrors about seven degrees outward
to cover the field of view normally missed, i.e., your blind spot.
"Most people's side mirrors are aimed back along the flanks of their
cars," Platzer says, "but much of the area seen in the outside
mirror is already covered by your inside rearview mirror. You might
as well point those side mirrors out where they can do some
- Sitting in the driver's seat, lean to your left until your
head just touches the side window.
- With your head at this point, adjust your left side mirror so
the edge of your fender is barely visible on the inside edge of
- Now move or lean right with your head at the car's centerline
and make the same adjustment to the right mirror. Your three
mirrors will now offer a panoramic view of the area behind and to
the sides of your car.
Here's how the system works in traffic. The inside mirror is your
primary mirror. It shows you everything except the blind zone. The
outside mirrors show you only the blind zones. When changing lanes,
first look in the inside mirror to observe traffic to the rear. Then
look in the outside mirror to see if there's a car in the blind
A car passing from behind will first appear in your center
rearview mirror. Before it leaves that mirror, it will appear in the
side mirror, and as it passes from the side mirror's view, it will
appear in your peripheral vision.
The only downside to Platzer's method is a loss of visual
reference to your own vehicle: the fender edge you were used to
seeing is now gone. But you'll soon adapt to the new position, as
traffic behind you flows from your center mirror to your side
mirrors (or vice versa if you're doing the passing).
The end result of Platzer's mirror-adjustment method is almost
unbroken visibility behind and to the sides of your car.
Continually scanning what's ahead and behind will
keep you visually and mentally on top of the situation.