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Old 05-21-2019, 07:55 AM
Jackknifed Juggernaut is online now
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How are your side view mirrors positioned?


A driving school instructor once told me that no part of the car should be visible in either of your side mirrors. For some reason, I just feel better calibrated if I can see just a portion of my car in them. In my case, the rear door handles stick out slightly so I position the mirrors so that only the handles are in my field of vision when looking at either mirror.
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Old 05-21-2019, 08:02 AM
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The only car parts visible in my side-view mirrors are those of cars in the lanes adjacent to me.
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Old 05-21-2019, 08:10 AM
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Someone on the SDMB posted a few years ago that there is no such thing as a blind spot if you position your side mirrors correctly. Like your instructor, he said you should not see any part of your car. So I tried it. I moved the angle outwards and drove down a multi-lane road allowing myself to be passed by cars and in turn passing cars. What I discovered was that cars disappeared from my rearview mirror and almost immediately the nose appeared in the side mirror. Long vehicles were visible in the side mirror while still visible in the rearview mirror.

It was obvious after this practice, that even in a car with shitty visibility, between the rearview mirror, the side mirror and a slight turn of the head it is possible to see everything in the lanes beside you. It has made driving much more relaxing.
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Old 05-21-2019, 08:13 AM
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Do what's best for you. Test it.

It's a lot different for a short person with the seat forward, than a tall person that has to have the seat all the way back. That's why they adjust.
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Old 05-21-2019, 08:15 AM
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Your driving school instructor is correct. When I took Driver's Ed, the common practice was to align them as you do, so you can just see the side of your vehicle in the mirror, for reference. I am going to guess that sometime in the 1990s somebody did a study which showed that was not the best way, that it lead to much larger blind spots. I say 1990s as that is when I first started hearing about setting them the way your instructor told you.

I have to admit, I was skeptical at first, and it took some getting used to, but with my mirrors properly adjusted, I can see the front of most cars in my side mirror while the back of that car is still visible in my rear mirror. You might be able to get a Smart Car in my blind spot, but that would be about it.

You will be much better off to learn how to do it right from the start so you don't have to unlearn bad habits.
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Old 05-21-2019, 08:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jackknifed Juggernaut View Post
A driving school instructor once told me that no part of the car should be visible in either of your side mirrors. For some reason, I just feel better calibrated if I can see just a portion of my car in them.
Call it just a sliver. Now on the bikes I want basically just a piece of my elbows and arms; and I don't trust the view but always turn and look for myself.
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Old 05-21-2019, 08:17 AM
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Whether you're using them mainly while driving or mainly while parking in places with bollards or similar items affects how they should be adjusted. I was also taught to adjust the mirrors so I couldn't see my own car, but to see the bollards in the parking lot at my previous job I needed to also see a thin slice of my car (just the ittiest bit of red). The trip was short enough that it didn't justify readjusting (my car's mirrors need to be adjusted manually).

Last edited by Nava; 05-21-2019 at 08:20 AM.
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Old 05-21-2019, 08:30 AM
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I was taught to lean to the center of the car, and adjust the right side mirror until you can just see the edge of your car. Then lean to the left and adjust the left side mirror the same way. When you're sitting normally it should remove any mirror blind spots. Never really checked it to confirm.
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Old 05-21-2019, 08:34 AM
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In my driving lessons, around 1985, we were told we should see our own car, but just the thickness of the paint. The way to check blind spots was to turn one's head for a quick look. That was my policy...

...until I got my Chevrolet Volt. The C pillars are so huge that I could miss a truck following me in the right lane, even if I turn my head. So now my right-side mirror is set to show that spot, and I've glued on a little convex mirror so I can still watch my car's paint a little bit.
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Old 05-21-2019, 08:43 AM
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Old school here, just a sliver of car showing.

I won't dispute that the alternate "mirrors outboard" method can work nicely, but I fear that if I modified something so basic about how I drive after 35 years of driving, I might be setting myself up for trouble.
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Old 05-21-2019, 08:58 AM
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Used to like seeing my car in them just so I had a reference point. Then I decided I just needed to know if there was something there, and if there was I could do some more investigating to decide where exactly the object in my mirror was. So...none of my car is in my sideviews anymore.
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Old 05-21-2019, 09:06 AM
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I've used the Car Talk method pretty much since they started recommending it.
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Old 05-21-2019, 09:08 AM
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I agree with shunpiker. Nobody taught me how to adjust mirrors while I was in driver's ed but making sure I could see the lanes next to me seemed pretty critical, so that's what I did. Driver's ed guidance has apparently caught up to me.

If you adjust your mirrors this way, you can still see the car in the mirrors by moving your head slightly. Doing so increases your field of view.
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Old 05-21-2019, 09:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by don't ask View Post
Someone on the SDMB posted a few years ago that there is no such thing as a blind spot if you position your side mirrors correctly. Like your instructor, he said you should not see any part of your car. So I tried it. I moved the angle outwards and drove down a multi-lane road allowing myself to be passed by cars and in turn passing cars. What I discovered was that cars disappeared from my rearview mirror and almost immediately the nose appeared in the side mirror. Long vehicles were visible in the side mirror while still visible in the rearview mirror.

It was obvious after this practice, that even in a car with shitty visibility, between the rearview mirror, the side mirror and a slight turn of the head it is possible to see everything in the lanes beside you. It has made driving much more relaxing.
I'm pretty sure that was me!

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Old 05-21-2019, 09:29 AM
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I set them the correct way (in order to eliminate blind spots), but every time I take my car in for an oil change or other type of service, the idiots adjust them so my car is visible in them.
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Old 05-21-2019, 09:44 AM
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I position them wide, such that going from left mirror to rear view to right mirror creates as close to a seamless panorama as possible. There is pretty much no blind spot this way (though I think you may be able to sneak a motorcycle in there if you had it very close along the side by the rear bumper. That said, you can move your head to get at that angle and see it.) It takes most people a bit of time to get used to this setting, but fir me it’s always been completely intuitive. If I need to see the side of my car, like for backing up out of a narrow space, I just move my head and body over towards the mirror and I’m able to see it.
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Old 05-21-2019, 10:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Ponch8 View Post
I set them the correct way (in order to eliminate blind spots), but every time I take my car in for an oil change or other type of service, the idiots adjust them so my car is visible in them.
Better that they adjust the mirrors than ignore them and back into something around the shop.
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Old 05-21-2019, 10:06 AM
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I've used the Car Talk method pretty much since they started recommending it.
That's what I've been doing and it seems to work. Haven't sideswiped many people lately.
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Old 05-21-2019, 10:09 AM
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I was originally taught to position them in the "legacy" manner, showing part of the car I was driving. After a couple years of "checking my blind spot" it occurred to me that most of what I could see in the side view mirrors was already visible in the rear view. That seemed like a silly waste of two mirrors, so I swung them wide and, as others have mentioned, found that it virtually eliminated the blind spot. I can watch a motorcycle pass from my rear view to my side view and into my peripheral vision with no gap in visibility.
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Old 05-21-2019, 12:23 PM
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I'm also a Legacist. But my Fiat 500 has a little convex mirror just outboard of the main mirror, so I've developed the habit of checking that before changing lanes. It shows the blind spot very well.
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Old 05-21-2019, 12:48 PM
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My 2017 Nissan rogue has a system to detect a car in the blind spot. I think a lot of newer cars have that now.
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Old 05-21-2019, 12:53 PM
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I drove a rental car with the blind spot detection feature. But I noticed that it alerted me to cars in my blind spot that I was perfectly comfortable with passing, so it's a little over-cautious.
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Old 05-21-2019, 01:13 PM
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Originally Posted by minor7flat5 View Post
Old school here, just a sliver of car showing.

I won't dispute that the alternate "mirrors outboard" method can work nicely, but I fear that if I modified something so basic about how I drive after 35 years of driving, I might be setting myself up for trouble.
That's essentially why I asked the question. I've been driving for 30+ years as well, and never had any blind spot issues (since I habitually turn my head and glance back). Even if I positioned them correctly, I expect that I'd still turn my head. But I am going to give it a shot.
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Old 05-21-2019, 01:31 PM
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I'm pretty sure that was me!

No, it was me.

2005

2007

2015

2017

2018

I have to say that I'm very gratified to see all the people supporting the "no-blind-spot" method in this thread. As seen in several of the linked threads above, I have often encountered resistance to the method and rarely had many allies. Maybe my valiant efforts to fight ignorance over the last 14 years are finally paying off.
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Old 05-21-2019, 01:32 PM
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I always shake my head in disbelief when I notice another driver's face in two different mirrors.
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Old 05-21-2019, 01:36 PM
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What I was told a couple of years ago was to lean to the left until your head is right over the edge of your seat. Position your driver-side mirror so you just barely see the side of your car. Lean to the right until your head is right over the edge of your seat. Position the passenger-side mirror so you just barely see the side of your car.



Return to your usual driving position. Your mirrors are now correctly positioned. You no longer see either side of your car, and your blind spot is minimized.
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Old 05-21-2019, 01:45 PM
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Like others I want a tiny bit of the car showing. Otherwise I have no idea if it's properly aligned or not, and if not then no idea how close what I see is to my car.
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Old 05-21-2019, 02:11 PM
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I already know what the side of my car looks like, I'm not wasting any valuable mirror space on that...I'd rather devote my entire mirror to other cars.
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Old 05-21-2019, 08:27 PM
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No, it was me.

2005

2007

2015

2017

2018

I have to say that I'm very gratified to see all the people supporting the "no-blind-spot" method in this thread. As seen in several of the linked threads above, I have often encountered resistance to the method and rarely had many allies. Maybe my valiant efforts to fight ignorance over the last 14 years are finally paying off.
May I, on behalf of the entire SDMB, thank you for fighting ignorance!

This is the way I do it too. I do like to be able to see a sliver of my car, for example when backing up the length of a long twisty driveway. It helps gain a more accurate perspective. But I simply lean when I need to do that, which is perfectly practical. Normal driving including lane changing works very well with this method from the typical driving position. I think it's safest, and also pretty easy.
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Old 05-21-2019, 08:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by don't ask View Post
Someone on the SDMB posted a few years ago that there is no such thing as a blind spot if you position your side mirrors correctly. Like your instructor, he said you should not see any part of your car. So I tried it. I moved the angle outwards and drove down a multi-lane road allowing myself to be passed by cars and in turn passing cars. What I discovered was that cars disappeared from my rearview mirror and almost immediately the nose appeared in the side mirror. Long vehicles were visible in the side mirror while still visible in the rearview mirror.
This is the way I do it. Therefore, it is the correct way. It's OK to have just a sliver of your own car visible if that makes you happy.

Also, move your fucking head. You need to actually look around yourself from time to time. If your hair is glued to the headrest and you just move your eyeballs from side to side you're not getting the full picture.
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Old 05-21-2019, 09:31 PM
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Like others I want a tiny bit of the car showing. Otherwise I have no idea if it's properly aligned or not, and if not then no idea how close what I see is to my car.
If you're used to the "wide" setting of the mirrors, you figure out how to align them pretty easily as well and can tell if they're misaligned or not. Look at all three mirrors from left to right. Do you see redundant information in them or not? If so, they're not set wide enough. If you don't see redundant information, do you see a gap, so they might be set too wide?

I use my mirrors a lot, so it's pretty clear when there's an alignment issue. I want it so when I see one headlight on a car to the left or the right of me in my rearview mirror, I only want to see the other headlight in the side mirror. That said, it's pretty obvious when the mirrors have been changed, as the only time it happens is when somebody else has been driving the car, and that's pretty easy to see as I see the side of the car in the mirror. It's not like the mirrors get randomly bumped and misaligned or anything.
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Old 05-21-2019, 09:32 PM
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Your instructor is correct. The side view mirror isn't so you can see the back corner of your car, or the pavement. It's to help cover the blind spot, so you don't move over one someone when changing lanes. It can have the added benefit of shining the bright headlights of that truck hanging off your bumper right back into his vehicle cabin. But you didn't hear that from me.
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Old 05-21-2019, 09:43 PM
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At the end of the day, the safest is to do what you feel comfortable with. If you don't understand what you're looking at and the spatial relationship between the left mirror, rear view mirror, and right mirror when set to a "wide" position, then I prefer you to use what you're comfortable with and what you understand, and do all the over-the-shoulder looks you need to do to get a clear sense of the cars around you when you're passing/changing lanes. (And even with optimal mirror placement, you sometimes do have to look over your shoulder, like in multilane situations where somebody two lanes over might want to simultaneously try to change into the lane you want to change into. Mirrors don't help with that.)
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Old 05-21-2019, 09:47 PM
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After too many times of adjusting the mirrors on my wife's car when I drove it, I finally asked her why she had to see the same exact thing in 3 different mirrors?
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Old 05-21-2019, 10:02 PM
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No, it was me.

2005

2007

2015

2017

2018

I have to say that I'm very gratified to see all the people supporting the "no-blind-spot" method in this thread. As seen in several of the linked threads above, I have often encountered resistance to the method and rarely had many allies. Maybe my valiant efforts to fight ignorance over the last 14 years are finally paying off.
That's cool man! I thought it was myself because of the wording of the OP because it's almost verbatim for what I say to people and I'm pretty sure I've mentioned it on here before. "There is no such thing as a blind spot if you adjust your mirrors properly. Heck, maybe I just agreed with you in one of those threads and thought I said it. Hell, I don't know, I was an incorrigible drunk for the majority of my existence here. I don't remember shit!



Quote:
Originally Posted by pulykamell View Post
If you're used to the "wide" setting of the mirrors, you figure out how to align them pretty easily as well and can tell if they're misaligned or not. Look at all three mirrors from left to right. Do you see redundant information in them or not? If so, they're not set wide enough. If you don't see redundant information, do you see a gap, so they might be set too wide?

I use my mirrors a lot, so it's pretty clear when there's an alignment issue. I want it so when I see one headlight on a car to the left or the right of me in my rearview mirror, I only want to see the other headlight in the side mirror. That said, it's pretty obvious when the mirrors have been changed, as the only time it happens is when somebody else has been driving the car, and that's pretty easy to see as I see the side of the car in the mirror. It's not like the mirrors get randomly bumped and misaligned or anything.
This is also actually a really good point. While I agree with the general consensus that it is safer to adjust your mirrors wide so you don't see any of the side of the car thus eliminating your blind spots, if you're not used to it, then it likely isn't safer for you or your fellow travelers.
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Old 05-22-2019, 07:35 AM
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It is possible the make of car has something to do with this. I drive a VW GTI. My side mirrors show a sliver of the side of my car, but for the life of me, I don't see redundancy. The center rearview mirror covers the entire rear window - pillar to pillar. Each side mirror immediately continues the view starting at the outside of the rear pillar. If I spread them wider, wouldn't I miss a spot between the areas covered by the mirrors?
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Old 05-22-2019, 09:12 AM
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That's cool man! I thought it was myself because of the wording of the OP because it's almost verbatim for what I say to people and I'm pretty sure I've mentioned it on here before. "There is no such thing as a blind spot if you adjust your mirrors properly. Heck, maybe I just agreed with you in one of those threads and thought I said it. Hell, I don't know, I was an incorrigible drunk for the majority of my existence here. I don't remember shit!

After searching for all of my posts that included the word "mirror," I did the same for you because I didn't want to unfairly deprive you of proper credit (and I was procrastinating starting my work day, as I am right now). Sorry to disappoint you, but I didn't find any posts in which you explicitly supported the "no-blind-spots" method. You commented on the poor mirror visibility of Camaros in one of the the threads that discussed mirror settings, but that's as close as you got.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pulykamell View Post
At the end of the day, the safest is to do what you feel comfortable with. If you don't understand what you're looking at and the spatial relationship between the left mirror, rear view mirror, and right mirror when set to a "wide" position, then I prefer you to use what you're comfortable with and what you understand, and do all the over-the-shoulder looks you need to do to get a clear sense of the cars around you when you're passing/changing lanes. (And even with optimal mirror placement, you sometimes do have to look over your shoulder, like in multilane situations where somebody two lanes over might want to simultaneously try to change into the lane you want to change into. Mirrors don't help with that.)
Quote:
Originally Posted by FoieGrasIsEvil View Post
This is also actually a really good point. While I agree with the general consensus that it is safer to adjust your mirrors wide so you don't see any of the side of the car thus eliminating your blind spots, if you're not used to it, then it likely isn't safer for you or your fellow travelers.
Several people have said this in this and other threads on the subject, and really, people, it's not that hard to get used to a new way of doing things.

What really sold me on the method was observing how a vehicle I saw coming up behind me, on either the left or the right, was never out of my sight. It would begin to appear in the side view mirror just as it was disappearing in the rear view, and that by the time it was about to leave the side view, I could see it directly along side me through the window in my peripheral vision. Compared to the bad old way, where a passing car vanished into the blind spot, next to me but not visible in any mirror, it was clear how superior the "right way" was.

I'm almost 64, and learned about this technique (probably from Car Talk) about 20 years ago, at which time I had been driving for almost three decades. It took a few days or a week to get completely comfortable with it. But it's really not that hard to get used to, and the benefits are very much worth the effort. And there's nothing stopping you from continuing to do the head twitch whenever you want.

So give it a try, and stick with it for a week. The supposed downsides are overstated and it's really not that hard to get used to. Like me, and many other posters here, and many other drivers around the world who've made the switch, you'll get used to it and appreciate its advantages.

Then you can become another proselytizer like us, and eventually we'll take over the world! BWA-HA-HA-HAAA!

Last edited by commasense; 05-22-2019 at 09:13 AM.
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Old 05-22-2019, 09:15 AM
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Several people have said this in this and other threads on the subject, and really, people, it's not that hard to get used to a new way of doing things.
For some people, it clearly is. Not everyone has great spatial skills, so I am not convinced this is the best solution for everyone. Wide mirrors is the best solution for me, but just because it's easy for me doesn't mean it's easy for everyone.
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Old 05-22-2019, 09:24 AM
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It is possible the make of car has something to do with this. I drive a VW GTI. My side mirrors show a sliver of the side of my car, but for the life of me, I don't see redundancy. The center rearview mirror covers the entire rear window - pillar to pillar. Each side mirror immediately continues the view starting at the outside of the rear pillar. If I spread them wider, wouldn't I miss a spot between the areas covered by the mirrors?
Next time you're driving, just have a look at the mirrors and the cars behind and to the left or right of you. At no point should you be able to see the same car in both a side view mirror and the rearview mirror, except when it is in between the two mirrors, so you can get one headlight in one mirror, and the other headlight in another mirror. If I have my side view mirrors set to see the side of my car, I'm also seeing a lot of what is behind the car. I have to set them a good bit beyond where the side of my car disappears in the mirror to get a continuous panorama. Now, this does not mean that there is completely no blind spot. Obviously, if you have a gremlin on your rear door, you won't be able to see it unless you move your head and body towards the mirror. But as far as vehicles go, you'll see a part of the vehicle in the mirror. Maybe, just maybe you can hide a daredevil motorcycle rider in that spot, but he'd have to be hugging the rear of your car pretty closely to hide in there.

ETA: Here's a diagram of traditional vs wide settings.

Last edited by pulykamell; 05-22-2019 at 09:27 AM.
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Old 05-22-2019, 09:50 AM
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Mirrors? Psssshhh. If you are behind me you don't exist!

Mine are adjusted so that vehicles on either side pass smoothly from one mirror to the next, always in view.
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Old 05-22-2019, 09:55 AM
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Another way to adjust your side view mirrors is to park in a parking lot with the front of your car facing into the traffic lane, with cars on your left and right sides and a car directly behind you with other cars to its left and right. Adjust the side view mirrors until you can see the cars on either side behind you. Note that you need to be in a lot with parallel parking, not angled parking, for this to work.
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Old 05-22-2019, 10:13 AM
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Next time you're driving, ...
OK, I'll give it a try. Unfortunately, I don't do a ton of driving, and nearly all of my driving is on streets I've very familiar with. So there are limited opportunities for cars to "surprise" me.

And I realize that I turn my head while checking the mirrors - thereby expanding their view, and also shoulder check - so having a "blindspot" really has never struck me as much of an issue.
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Old 05-24-2019, 12:19 PM
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Originally Posted by kopek View Post
Call it just a sliver. Now on the bikes I want basically just a piece of my elbows and arms; and I don't trust the view but always turn and look for myself.
I think this is the critical issue.

When I was taking the motorcycle training course, the instructor (a retired CHP officer) told us we should see our shoulder or elbow in the corner of the mirror, as a reference point. The big emphasis in the course material was that there's no substitute for a head-check (turning your head looking to see if there's something that the mirror isn't showing you). If you're properly doing a head-check, then there really isn't a "blind-spot" at all. If you're just relying on your mirrors*, you're doing it wrong.

Even my first (car) driving instructor emphasized constantly checking the mirrors and sides (as well as straight ahead) when you're driving and not even planning to turn. He said he could tell if students were doing that right because he'd watch to see if they were pivoting their heads. He said it can't be done by only swivelling the eyes in their sockets.

--G!

*Even with "blind spot" convex mirrors installed

Last edited by Grestarian; 05-24-2019 at 12:21 PM. Reason: Added the footnote
  #44  
Old 05-24-2019, 01:35 PM
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My RV mirrors are out to where I don't see the side of the vehicle; otherwise, there would be a huge blind spot. I'm not quite so meticulous with the car, as it has electronic lane monitoring and beeps at me if there is a car to either side and I turn on the turn indicator. Probably shouldn't rely on that, though, as gee-whiz shit can go bad.
  #45  
Old 05-24-2019, 04:48 PM
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There is a little bit of overlap between my peripheral vision, the side mirrors, and rear view. If an adjacent car is in just the right spot I'll see their rear fender in the rear view, most of the rest in the side mirror, and their front bumper in the corner of my eye.
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