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Old 16th September 2015, 15:21   #1
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Default Eliminating Blind Spots - How to correctly adjust the mirrors

It is always frustrating when we spot fellow road users driving with their ORVMs folded. What is more frustrating and goes unnoticed is the fact that most road users have no idea how to correctly adjust the ORVMs. I am sure you know how it has to be correctly adjusted, but do read on. If not to learn the correct way, at least to reconfirm that you are already doing it right.

For whatever reason, we Indians love making sure we canít see out of our cars. People in other countries probably do the same thing, but any time Iíve been out of the country, how drivers adjust their mirrors has been the last thought on my mind. Anyway, people have a variety of opinions regarding how to best adjust their mirrors, and almost all of them are wrong. Why are they wrong? Theyíre wrong because they intentionally create blind spots for the sake of making sure drivers can see things that are entirely irrelevant. Most road users have their ORVMs adjusted like below

Eliminating Blind Spots - How to correctly adjust the mirrors-orvm-incorrect.jpg

What is wrong with the above setup? Pretty much everything. The motorcycle and the smaller car on either side are totally invisible to the driver. Part of the view covered by the IRVM is repeated by the ORVM, which is redundant and useless.

While we are driving down the road, the side of our car isnít going to magically disappear. Despite supposedly developing object permanence at age 2, most of us are constantly terrified that the sides of our cars are going to disappear if not constantly monitored. To help assuage this fear, we set our side-view mirrors to help us watch and make sure our cars havenít magically opened up into sideless wonders at some point.

Then again, maybe it is the name of the mirrors that confuses people. After all, they are called side-view mirrors. Perhaps drivers hear the name and believe they are intended to help them view the sides of their cars. Nobody believes that rear-view mirrors are intended for viewing the rear of their car ó that would be silly and useless ó but then again, using your side-view mirrors to view the sides of your car is equally ridiculous.

Side-view mirrors are on the side of your car, yes, but they are actually intended for viewing what is beside your vehicle, not the sides of your vehicle itself.

If you set up your mirrors properly, a passing car will appear in your rear-view mirror, transition into your side-view mirror, and then transition into your peripheral vision. It will do so seamlessly, and it will do so without ever fully disappearing from one of your mirrors until it is clearly visible in your peripheral vision. Those blind spots you are constantly worried about just disappear. The human peripheral vision extends upto 200 - 210 degrees. See illustration below.

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Don't trust this? Stand at a door, with the front of your face aligned with the doorframe. You will be surprised to note that you can see things behind the door frame. Granted, you cannot make them out clearly, but you will definitely be aware of the presence of things. Which is exactly what we need when driving. We need to know that there is a vehicle by our side when we want to switch lanes. It doesn't matter if we are unable to make out that it is a bottle green 2001 model Honda City with a fake hood scoop. We are good as long as we are aware that there is a vehicle there.

How exactly does one go about obtaining this miraculous arrangement? It is simple, really.

First, you sit in the driverís seat and lean your head against the driverís side window. Adjust that mirror until you can just barely see the edge of your car, then sit back up. Lean approximately the same distance toward the passenger side, and do the same thing to the passenger side mirror. Once you sit back up straight, youíre done. You should not be able to see any part of your car in the ORVMs without tilting your head to one side. This is what you should ideally see in your rear view mirrors

Eliminating Blind Spots - How to correctly adjust the mirrors-orvm-correct.jpg

The exact positioning of each mirror may require some fine-tuning, but once you get it right, you wonít ever have to worry about changing lanes and accidentally hitting a car you couldnít see. A car in your rear-view mirror will be partly in your side-view mirror as it begins to pass you, and even when you can see a car beside you out of the corner of your eye, it will also still be partly in your side-view mirror. Brilliant, right?

Sadly, most drivers are so committed to the idea of having blind spots that changing the mirrors to eliminate them is usually considered unacceptable. Drivers donít like not being able to see the sides of their cars. They donít like the idea that they canít constantly monitor their rear bumpers or their rear wheels, and theyíll come up with all manner of excuses to justify intentionally leaving blind spots that donít need to be there.

The most confusing thing is, even if being able to keep an eye on your rear bumper helps a little with parallel parking, most cars these days have backup cameras, and those are much more accurate than a mirror view of the side of your car.

Do this simple experiment. Park your car in a open space - a play ground or a parking lot. Sit in the driver seat and ask a friend to walk around the car in an imaginary circle - approx 10 feet radius, with your IRVM as the imaginary center. You should be able to see your friend at all times, no matter at what point of the circle he or she is. Your friend should transition from your direct line of sight to your peripheral vision to one ORVM to the IRVM to the next ORVM, coming back into your peripheral vision on the other side and back into your direct line of sight.

In a nutshell, no blind spots with the three RVMs forming a panoramic image of what is behind you. See below illustration for a concise explanation

Eliminating Blind Spots - How to correctly adjust the mirrors-cleanupblindspotsphoto519796soriginal.jpg

Even if people say they need it for parking, the truth is, doing something different can be scary, and people donít like having to learn something new. Doing one thing slightly different and spending a week adjusting to the newness of it could actually save you thousands of rupees in car accidents you donít have, so is it really not worth it to at least give it a shot?

Thanks for reading.
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Old 17th September 2015, 08:49   #2
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Default re: Eliminating Blind Spots - How to correctly adjust the mirrors

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section). Thanks for sharing!

Last edited by GTO : 17th September 2015 at 11:34. Reason: Moved to street experiences
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Old 17th September 2015, 09:49   #3
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Default re: Eliminating Blind Spots - How to correctly adjust the mirrors

Nice topic Patchyboy.

Highway driving with mirrors setup as far and wide as possible works flawlessly when driving on the highway.

In the city, I do like to see a faint edge of the rear of the car in the inner most past of the ORVMs. It just helps me save dings from wannabe Grand Prix winners. City roads are only 2 lanes and it just doesn't help a lot to get an extra wide view. When having 2 people on the rear seat the IRVM view is somewhat blocked on the sides. What I am doing is not perfect, but its horses for courses.
Wide setup for highway and long distance driving and a narrower setup for city driving.
BTW, I have seen numerous people driving on expressway with ORVMs folded, IDIOTS.

Anyone tried the small super convex blind spot mirrors that you can put on ORVMs? They may be useful on bigger cars with comparatively small mirrors like the old Fiesta.
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Old 17th September 2015, 14:57   #4
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Nice explanation on how to work out the correct angles. No matter how many discussions I have with my dad's driver on this, he still believes rear view mirrors are nothing but a distraction. Will give him an illustration implementing this and let me see, if I can turn my dad's drives into safer ones. Thanks PatchyBoy...

Last edited by GTO : 17th September 2015 at 15:48. Reason: Typo
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Old 17th September 2015, 17:17   #5
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Default Re: Eliminating Blind Spots - How to correctly adjust the mirrors

Thanks mate, that was a good illustration wise explanation, worth a share with family and friends. Even though I knew that side view mirrors should not see much of the car's body, your diagrams have made it crystal clear. Also like freedom mentioned ideal for your long drives and a bit of body to be seen during the bumper to bumper drives.
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Old 17th September 2015, 19:26   #6
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Default Re: Eliminating Blind Spots - How to correctly adjust the mirrors

Good article and probably a lot debated already. I have been reading about this topic for a long time now especially after starting to drive abroad. After reading and experimenting a lot over many months now, I think I agree to the above methodology to a great extend, but except what is exactly pointed out by freedom. I would like to see the edge of my car too in the mirror so that I have a way to make a relative measurement of distance between what is approaching or departing and my car. With out a way to do so, I find it really difficult to be making decisions especially for lane changes or taking reverses. Modern cars come with blind spot mirrors integrated which is a great help. There are also off the shelf convex [url="http://images.thetruthaboutcars.com/2008/04/wasm-blindspot-new.jpg"]mirrors, I had them in my old car, worked really well.
Anyway, thanks a ton for the post, I am sure it will being in a better level of awareness.
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Old 17th September 2015, 20:15   #7
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Default Re: Eliminating Blind Spots - How to correctly adjust the mirrors

I would echo freedom as well. City driving in traffic and congested roads do require you to see a part of the car, specially in my Ritz thanks to the car bulging out towards the rear. You need to see your own car to know the distance between yours and the car/pillar/pavement,etc next to you.

However, saying that the first accessory I always have on my car are blind spot mirrors.
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Old 17th September 2015, 21:09   #8
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Thumbs up Re: Eliminating Blind Spots - How to correctly adjust the mirrors

Quote:
First, you sit in the driverís seat and lean your head against the driverís side window. Adjust that mirror until you can just barely see the edge of your car, then sit back up. Lean approximately the same distance toward the passenger side, and do the same thing to the passenger side mirror. Once you sit back up straight, youíre done. You should not be able to see any part of your car in the ORVMs without tilting your head to one side. This is what you should ideally see in your rear view mirrors
This is a kind of eye opener for novices like me. My WagonR BS III manual says that the side mirrors are to be so adjusted that 1/3rd of the vehicle should be visible in the side view mirrors. It would, I surmise, take additional effort to adjust to the new set up.

Thanks a ton, keep up good work, T-BHP.
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Old 17th September 2015, 21:27   #9
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Default Re: Eliminating Blind Spots - How to correctly adjust the mirrors

I always remember what Dr. Sheldon Cooper said in Big Bang Theory

Sheldon: One moment. According to my driverís ed book, a side mirror is properly adjusted when a portion of the is driverís door handle is visible in the lower right corner. Thereís the handle. Oh, no, too far, bringing it back. Optimized. Now, where is the switch to adjust the passenger side mirror?
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Old 17th September 2015, 22:42   #10
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Default Re: Eliminating Blind Spots - How to correctly adjust the mirrors

I guess the biggest problem is we have been taught wrong, and now we are just too used to this already. I tried implementing this but used to feel uncomfortable while driving. And thanks to all wonderful people who love using high beams at night I have to shut my OVRM's, bright lights are one of the trigger for migraines for me. So it unfortunately makes driving at night dangerous and stressful. Having anti-dazzle mirrors inside and out was one of the must haves for me for my next car.

I'll definitely push myself to use this method more and also encourage and discuss it with friends and family.
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Old 17th September 2015, 23:33   #11
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Default Re: Eliminating Blind Spots - How to correctly adjust the mirrors

There is one more advantage in setting up side view mirrors like this - glare from cars driving on high beams behind you will not hit your eyes via the side view mirrors. And that's a handy tip for adjusting mirrors - generally speaking, if you are getting glare from vehicles behind you, your side view mirrors need to be moved out a bit. Not only will you get rid of the glare, you will also be able to see objects in what would otherwise have been a blind spot...
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Old 17th September 2015, 23:36   #12
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Default Re: Eliminating Blind Spots - How to correctly adjust the mirrors

Logically this makes sense but in real world(specially India) it doesnt, except some highways.
Here in India you need to keep an eye on the motorcyclist or the cab pushing against you in a traffic jam or a bottleneck. Seeing the rear of the car and getting to see on 'how close is too close' instead of relying on idea/assumption helps in city traffic. Sometimes just giving a hard glaze on noticing the nuisance in the rear view mirror saves you some dents or scratches. Then you have the autos which takes 'proximity' to new limits and probably the age old 'bad' practice will help to give some 'close saves', it's a common practice for a reason .

Yeah while on highways, like someone pointed out, this tip makes pure sense.
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Old 18th September 2015, 06:47   #13
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Default Re: Eliminating Blind Spots - How to correctly adjust the mirrors

On our city roads one should see a minimum part of the vehicle, keeping in mind how close most ot the Wannabe F1s slip streaming you, Autos, Motorcyclist, Aces, Taxis ,Vans & Buses like to drive now added to the list are the OLAs & Ubers drive. Specially in bumper to bumper traffic.
Also required when moving from one lane to another with the indicator on, the guys from the back in most cases ignore the indicator and tend to rush you.
Now a new trend of Car drivers using preassure tactics used by Motorcyclist & Autos to move you off the way or to break to let them pass.
Using all three mirrors has become a life & money saver.
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Old 18th September 2015, 06:48   #14
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Default Re: Eliminating Blind Spots - How to correctly adjust the mirrors

This was some really valuable information, thank you! And yes, I am guilty of creating blind spots as well. One other weird thing I also do is that my left rear view mirror is positioned much lower than the right so that I can see the kerb while parking, guess that's a habit I should change as well. Although I believe newer cars automatically do that when you put in reverse.

And as someone who's just started driving (got my licence less than a year ago, I'd love to see more threads come up on the basics of driving.)
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Old 18th September 2015, 06:50   #15
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When I went for my driver's license test in Australia back in the late nineties, the car I was using had blind spot mirrors. The official who came with me warned me that I was not looking over the shoulder and I responded that I have blind spot mirrors. I will never forget his response. He smiled and said "I am giving you a license to drive any car. Not just ones equipped with these mirrors".

This method was published by SAE in 1995 and I was told about this on that day. Been using it ever since, including in city traffic with zero issues. It takes a few days to get used to. I drive in B2B Bangalore traffic everyday and so far do not have scratches on the car due to setting the mirrors like this, in the past 9 years of driving in Bangalore.
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