Pretty much anyone can adjust a car's mirrors in as much time as it takes to find where the manufacturer hid the button to do it, but are they doing it right? Going by feel and not thinking about proper mirror positioning is a frequent cause of accidents when changing lanes. To make sure you're safe on the road, you need to adjust your mirrors to completely eliminate the blind spots along the flanks of your car.
Adjusting your mirrors in three easy steps
Properly adjusting your mirrors only takes a few seconds, and the time is well worth the safety properly adjusted mirrors provide. No matter how ridiculous you think you look fiddling with your mirrors or how much someone wants your parking space, always make sure your mirrors are in the right position before you start your car.
Start with the driver's side mirror
To make sure you get the best viewing angle, place your forehead against the glass of your side window. Turn the mirror until you can just barely see the side of your car. You shouldn't be able to see it when sitting up, and why would you need to? It's not your car you're worried about hitting. By making sure your car is at the edge of the mirror, you should be able to see anything to your left.
Move to the passenger's side
Not literally. Just shift your head until it’s over the center console when you adjust the passenger side mirror. Like with the driver's side mirror, you want the side of your car to just barely be visible when you're leaning over.
Don't have electronic mirrors? You'll have to get out, guess at the proper position of the mirror, and then get back in to check your work. Repeat until your mirrors are in a safe position.
Now take care of the rearview mirror
Your rearview mirror should easily have everything behind your car in view. Just remember to adjust it when you're sitting in your normal driving posture. Don't sit up or slouch unless you normally would. Never use your rearview mirror to see into the back seats — it reduces your outside visibility. If you need to keep an eye on your kids, get a separate mirror and attach it to your sun visor.
If you've adjusted your mirrors properly, you should be able to see any cars around you without using your mirror. However, it's still safest to always look over your shoulder before you change lanes.
For more defensive driving techniques and safe driving practices visit Improv Traffic School’s blog.