Mirror Adjustments: Eliminating – at Least Reducing – Blindzones

While teaching your teen safe driving tips, you’ve likely reminded them to check their mirrors while changing lanes, merging and simply driving along the road. After all, those three mirrors in your vehicle allow you to see a vehicle approaching from behind and the sides. Your teen driver hasn’t had experience with blindzones – those dangerous areas on the side of your car where your mirrors may not reach.

What are they?

Blindzones create hazardous conditions, particularly when driving on multi-lane roads where merging and passing is common. They can completely eliminate seeing a car on the side of the vehicle. Safe driving tips for teens include teaching them how to properly adjust their mirrors to see as much of the sides and rear of their vehicle as they can.

How to adjust your mirrors

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and American Driver and Traffic Safety Education Association recommend the proper way for adjusting your mirrors to eliminate blindzones in your vehicle. Many people incorrectly adjust their mirrors by leaving their head in the center of the driver’s seat and changing the mirrors so they barely see the side of their own vehicle. While this seems logical, it creates blindzones directly to the side of your car.

The NSTSA and ADTSEA advise the correct way to adjust your mirrors is to start by sitting in the driver’s seat and leaning your head against the driver’s window, then adjusting the driver’s side mirror to where you can barely see the side of your own car. Follow by moving your head the same distance to the right and adjusting the passenger’s side mirror to where you can barely see the passenger side of your vehicle. This results in an approximately 15-degree adjustment from where your mirrors had previously sat, allowing you to see a greater area to the sides of your car. As far as the rearview mirror, this should be adjusted so that you see the most out of your rear window as possible – not too much of your car’s ceiling or the rear seats. Even with proper mirror adjustments, you still need to look over your shoulder while driving to merge and change lanes.

Adjusting your mirrors this way will take some getting used to – especially if you’ve been driving with your mirrors the other way for some time.  Be sure to teen knows to this in every car they drive to help prevent accidents.  Fortunately, teaching your teen this as they start driving eliminates having to get used to a change – they’ll be doing it correctly from the get-go!

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