Believe it or not there’s appreciable field-of-view gains and blind-spot size reductions that can be realized with optimized mirror aim.
In 1995 the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) studied the subject and wrote a technical paper on it.
The method explained in the paper is often taught by driving schools and professional trainers alike. For most folks it only requires a little getting used to. You might still think this whole exercise is pointless when many new cars come with blind-spot monitoring systems. The reality is that situational awareness and natural vision are superior (especially in an emergency, when quick, instinctive reactions may be required), and the technology is not failure-proof. Smaller vehicles, in particular bicycles and motorbikes, are not always detected, for instance.
This method also eliminates headlight glare in your sideview mirrors.
Sitting in your normal driving position, ensure that your inside rear-view mirror is adjusted to look straight back through your rear window. Most people already do this, but some angle it a bit sideways to cover a blind spot.
Next, move your head towards the left side window and adjust the driver’s side mirror outwards so that only a small amount of the side of your car is visible from that position; this will be helpful during parking and to check for cyclists before opening your door. Centred in your normal seated position you should not be able to see the side of your car.
If your mirror adjuster clicks before reaching that angle, adjust it the opposite way until it clicks once or twice and try it again. Not every vehicle has sufficient adjustment range, but closer is still better.
Repeat this procedure for the right side by moving your head until it’s almost over the centre console of your car and making the same outwards adjustment to your passenger side mirror.
Now as a vehicle overtakes you, it should transition from appearing in your rear-view into your sideview, then move from your mirror into your peripheral vision through the side window.
It’s a small adjustment that makes a big difference.
Brian Early is a longtime Wheels contributor and a Red Seal automotive technician with over 25 years experience.
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