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How to Use & Adjust Your Mirrors

Good visual search habits require proper positioning and use of mirrors located inside and outside a vehicle. Using the settings below, you can see what is directly behind your vehicle with the inside mirror, and you can see directly into spaces adjacent to each of the vehicle’s rear corners by using the side mirrors. Mirrors are intended for detection and not for gathering detailed information.

The inside mirror

  • Adjust the inside mirror so you can see the entire rear window from the driver's seat. You should have to move only your eyes, not your head, when using this mirror.
  • Drivers 6 feet tall or taller may find it helpful to reposition the mirror upside down, if possible. This usually raises the bottom edge fo the mirror about 1 to 2 inches and can substantially rescue a major blind area to the front for tall drivers. 
Side-view mirrors
  • To adjust the driver's side-view mirror, place your head against the left side window and set the mirror so you can just barely see the side of the car in the mirror's right side. 
  • To adjust the passenger's side-view mirror, position your head so that it is just above the center console. Set the mirror so you can just barely see the side fo the car in the left side of the mirror. If the vehicle is not equipped with remove mirror-adjustment controls, you may need assistance when properly positioning this mirror.

With these settings, you will have almost seamless visual contact around your vehicle, which can help you detect the presence of nearby drivers. For example, when being passed by a vehicle in the lane to your left, you will see it progress from the rearview mirror, to the left side mirror and then to your side vision.

Before driving with these updated mirror settings, see how they work while your vehicle is parked. For example, you can parallel park along a street, then see how passing vehicles move through your mirrors and peripheral vision. This can help you become oriented to the new settings before heading out into traffic.

Remember, even properly positioned mirrors cannot eliminate all blind spots. To reduce risk, make a final check to the sides before attempting any lateral moves.