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How to align your car mirrors

Side mirrors and rearview mirrors are some of the most important traffic safety tools on your car. You probably use your mirrors without thinking about them every day, but you may not realize if your mirrors are improperly aligned. Dr. Brian A. Coon, PhD, PE, a traffic engineer in our Wichita office, explains the easy and correct way to align your mirrors.

Car mirrors are used to increase visibility of other motorists and decrease blind spots. A blind spot is an area surrounding your car that you can’t see in your own line of sight or in your mirrors. You should try to maximize visibility in your mirrors as much as possible.

Proper mirror alignment increases visibility and safety.

Rearview mirror: Adjust the mirror so you can see out of the back windshield from the driver’s seat without having to move your head.

Driver’s side mirror: Lean to the left toward the driver’s side window and adjust the mirror so only a small part of your car is visible.

Passenger side mirror: Lean your head right toward your car’s center console and adjust the mirror so you can barely see the side of your car.

One common mistake when aligning mirrors is keeping your own car in view. However, the sides of your car should be barely out of view in your mirrors when sitting in the driver’s seat.

“So, when you’re sitting in your car adjusting your mirrors, most people align them so you can see part of your car,” Brian said. “Hopefully, you know where your car is, so you should move your head a little bit to see your car. That increases the angle over which you have visibility. It’s great for reducing blind spots.”

There should be as little overlap of visibility between the rearview and side mirrors as possible. Oncoming cars in your mirrors should move clearly from one mirror to the next, which reduces your blind spots and increases traffic safety.

The new mirror alignment may be unusual at first, but this adjustment increases visibility of fellow motorists and decreases blind spots, which ultimately ensures you’re driving safely.

Traffic engineers like Dr. Coon keep safety at the forefront of their engineering, and aligning mirrors is one quick and easy way to maximize safety. Take one minute to properly adjust your mirrors, and drive safely!