Tuesday 4 September 2018

What is the best way to adjust the side mirrors?

What is the best way to adjust the side mirrors?

This is a common question from people learning to drive and seeking to find out optimum settings for the vehicle.  There are also a number of opinions on how to best set up the side-view mirrors.

Firstly, you should set the inside rear-view mirror so you can see through to the rear of the vehicle with as little of the window frame obstructing your view.  If your car has a rear-window de-mister, you may be able to line up the centre of the mirror with the central heating element should the de-mister have a vertical element in the back window. Otherwise, look for something else in the middle of the rear window to help align the mirror.

Next, for side-view mirrors, the objective is extend the scope of what you can see behind the vehicle, but also allow for the contrast between the central rear view mirror inside the vehicle and the side-view mirrors.  While the internal mirror provides a realistic view of vehicles behind you, side-view mirrors are convex (making the view similar to looking at the back of a spoon) and make vehicles appear smaller and further away.  For this reason, it is best to have part of your vehicle in view to overcome the disparity in images and better judge proximity of other vehicles behind you.

A quick and very easy way to set up the side-view mirrors with minimal fuss is to imagine a horizontal line in the centre of the side-view mirror.  Measure a point approximately 1cm from the nearest side of the mirror.  From that point, imagine a vertical line and look for a point approximately 1cm down from the first point.  Allign this new point with the rear door handle of your vehicle.

Another method, as advocated by the society of automotive engineers (SAE), is to adjust the side-view mirrors further outwards away from your vehicle to simply overlap the view image of the internal rear-view mirror.  Undoubtedly, this increases the overall scope of the mirrors  and capably assists in reducing blind-spot areas adjacent to the vehicle, but there are a number of downfalls with this method.  It can be time-consuming, especially setting up the mirrors for optimum coverage.  Also, it is less helpful in overcoming the view disparity of the side-view mirrors as your vehicle will be out of view in the mirror and can be made more difficult if, for any reason, the view in the centre mirror is blocked.  Therefore, it is much simpler, and safer for the novice driver to set up side mirrors with a slim portion of their own vehicle in view as described above.

Please remember that if at any time you are unhappy with the position of the mirrors, it is your responsibility to make sure that you pull over to a safe position and secure the vehicle before changing the position of the mirrors.


 Learn to drive safely with Ace Driver Training, Cairns


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