Mirror, Mirror | Checking your blind spots
I have seen the light! Headlights that is. After many years of driving I discovered that, hold on to your hats, I was wrong. There, I said it. My only solace is that I’m not the only one. Apparently, most people are not adjusting or using their vehicle mirrors to the fullest.
A few months ago I came across an article on how to properly adjust your mirrors. It defied reason and went against what generations of drivers have taught me. “Hogwash!”, I said. But then I found more and more articles discussing this technique. So, I decided to experiment with it for a few weeks.
In short an engineer named George Platzer wrote a technical paper in 1995 called “The Geometry of Automotive Rearview Mirrors – Why Blind Zones Exist and Strategies to Overcome Them.” According to Platzer a passing vehicle should start to appear in your side mirror as it moves out of the rear view mirror. This is called the Blind Zone and Glare Elimination (BGE) setting. Sure there will always be tiny blind zones no matter how you adjust a mirror, but it won’t be big enough hide a Buick.
In 1996 Platzer wrote a brochure for the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE):
“When driving with the BGE setting, most drivers initially feel a sense of confusion with the outside mirrors; you are not sure where they are pointed; you miss not seeing the sides of the car; and you do not know how to interpret what you see. Don’t give up. The confusion will go away.”
What is this magical technique you say? Well here it is in 3 simple steps:
- Lean over until your head almost touches the driver’s window. Position the driver’s side mirror on the car’s left so you can just see the rear edge of the quarter panel in the mirror. I bet this is a lot further out than you are used to.
- Now lean to right and put your hands on your hips. Oops! This isn’t a Rocky Horror revival meeting. But please do lean your head to the right and align it to the centre of the vehicle. Yep! Just between the two front seats and at your normal height. Now position the passenger mirror so that you can just make out the edge of the right rear quarter panel.
- The rear view mirror should now be adjusted to face the centre of the rear window.
Prepare to see a whole new world behind and, more importantly, beside you the next time you go for a drive. Give yourself at least a week to get used to it.
- Constantly scan your mirrors during your drive instead of just when you want to change lanes.
- Always look over your shoulder before changing lanes. It is impossible to totally eliminate blind spots. Smaller vehicles like bicycles and motorbikes might still be hiding.
- Shoulder checking, Side Blind Zone Alert (as found on many of our vehicles) and properly adjusted mirrors all work together to help make driving safer.
Check out more car tips from Boyer Chevrolet Buick GMC here!