It's possible to adjust your sideview mirrors in such a way that you never get blind-sided by an approaching car. At least, that is what I've come to believe based on my experiences. Let me show you what I've learned.
In my lifetime, I've had 3 professional driving instructors. All have been excellent in one regard or another. However, none ever taught me how to adjust my sideview mirrors properly, in my opinion.
How I Learned
How to Adjust My Sideview Mirrors
I finally learned how to adjust my sideview mirrors from a friend of mine. One day while riding with me, he noticed that I always turned my head before changing lanes on the freeway.
He said, "You don't have to do that if you know how to adjust your sideview mirrors properly. Most of us drive around our whole lives with our mirrors out of adjustment."
Basically, he was telling me to use my sideview mirrors differently from how I use my rearview mirror. His message was simple. Sideview mirrors are for viewing what is coming up beside you and the rearview mirror is for viewing what is coming up behind you.
To make it easy, I've refined what he told me and broken it down into steps. Here are twelve steps for adjusting your sideview mirrors:
Twelve Steps to Adjust your Sideview Mirrors
Find a safe place to park your car.
Park your car in your driveway or any other safe place where you are unlikely to be hit by other cars as you adjust your mirrors.
Sit in your driver's seat.
Get ready to adjust your 2 sideview mirrors and your rearview mirror.
Imagine two lanes of traffic, one on your left side and one on your right side.
Now imagine that you are driving on the freeway. You are in one of the middle lanes. Visualize one lane of traffic on your immediate left, on the driver's side. Visualize another lane of traffic, to your immediate right, on the passenger's side.
Move your driver's side sideview mirrors outward.
Adjust your sideview mirror outward until you can no longer see the side of your car with this mirror. Remember! You want to be looking back down the lane beside your driver's side, not at the side of your car.
Move your passenger's sideview mirror outward.
Again, you do not want this mirror to duplicate the functionality of your review mirror. Instead of looking at the same thing your review mirror is looking at, you want this mirror looking at the lane beside you.
Check to see that you cannot see the sides of your car with your sideview mirrors.
Both of these mirrors should be adjusted to give a clear view of the lanes beside you, not the sides of your car.
Check to see that your mirrors do not duplicate each other.
All three mirrors -- your 2 sideview mirrors and your rearview mirror -- should each give you a unique perspective on what is behind you. If any one of these mirrors duplicates the view of the other, you have likely failed to adjust your mirrors properly.
Ask a friend to walk around the back of your car.
Make sure there is no direction from which your friend can approach your car and blindside you. Adjust your mirrors so that you can see your friend at all times.
Be on the lookout for blind spots.
As your friend circles your car, make sure that he can be seen from every angle. As he transitions from your rearview mirror to go to your passenger mirror, you should have a visual fix on him that is uninterrupted.
Likewise, there should be no interruptions in continuity as your friend travels from a rearview to a driver's side view in your mirrors.
You haven't got it right yet until all blind spots behind you are removed!
Check your sides and front as well.
You should be able to pick up your friend as he transitions from your sideview mirrors to your peripheral vision as he travels from the back of your car on either side to the front.
Remember! The goal is no blindspots.
Make sure you never have to move your head.
If your friend can travel completely around your car and you never lose sight of him while keeping your head pointed in a straight-ahead position, you are done.
It is your eyes you want to move as you drive, not your head.
The time it takes you to move your head could prove fatal! When driving, milliseconds count.
Aspire to always be aware of everything that is around you.
If you can acquire a 360 degree sense of everything that is around you as you drive, your driving will improve.
Never again let yourself be blindsided by another vehicle approaching your car -- no matter what direction that vehicle might come from. All vehicles approaching your car should be on your mental radar at all times.
A Tip For California Drivers
One final tip for people who drive large multi-lane highways:
Be especially alert for drivers coming into the lane next to your lane from two lanes over. This is very difficult to anticipate.
Should you both try to move into the same lane at the same time, there could be trouble.
In this scenario, one driver is trying to come at a lane from the left side of the lane and the other driver is coming at the same lane from the the right side of the lane. In essence, two cars are trying to occupy the same place at the same time by moving sideways into the same lane from opposite sides of the lane.
This is especially difficult because your sideview mirrors only cover the lanes next to your lane and not the lanes that are two lanes over.
For this reason, I have sometimes found it necessary to glance sideways when driving the large multi-lane freeways of California.
I have nothing against glancing sideways when necessary. I do, however, find it safest to minimize the need for a sideways glance whenever possible. Properly adjusted sideview mirrors keep my sideway glances to a bare minimum.
©Edward Abbott, 2003-2007. All rights reserved. Revised October 4, 2007.
Questions or comments? Email me at ed@WebSiteRepairGuy.com.