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Stay focused with the correct mirror placement

Sure, you can use your rearview mirror as a kid-spying and makeup-checking device, but it’s important to remember its true purpose — seeing the cars behind you! Your rearview and side mirrors are key factors in making sure you avoid road interference. Getting your mirrors into the ideal position is easy as long as you keep a few simple tips in mind.

Woman adjusting rearview mirror

Step 1: Get comfy

Pull into an area, such as a neighborhood street, where you can clearly see what’s happening around you. Sit in the driver’s seat as you normally would. Be real — slouch if you normally slouch or sit up straight if that’s your body’s natural inclination. Adjust the seat position until it’s perfect. The more comfortable you are, the more likely you are to get the ideal mirror placement.

Step 2: Check the rearview mirror

Now look in your rearview mirror. What do you see? Is it what’s directly behind you? If not, adjust your mirror until you’re able to see what’s going on back there. It’s fairly simple, but make sure your day/night switch is turned to the appropriate time-of-day setting to avoid getting glaring beams in your eyes at night.

Step 3: Check your side mirrors

Poorly adjusted side mirrors are how blind spots happen. Adjusting your side mirrors willy-nilly can make you cut off a fellow driver or even cause an accident. Do not adjust your side mirrors to see the side of your car. Instead, you want to see where your rearview mirror can’t. When you’re seated comfortably, if you can see your car’s reflection in the side mirrors, adjust them slowly outward until the reflection is no longer there. This will ensure that you can see most of what’s surrounding you, including cars that sneak into common blind spots.

Step 4: Check for black holes

With your side mirrors and rearview mirror all properly adjusted, you should be able to see almost everything that’s happening around and behind you. Now that you think you have the right mirror placement, double-check your work. You’ve adjusted your mirrors from side to side, but do they need to move up or down to get the full scope of things?

Extra tips

While these criteria form a good basis for using your mirrors to drive safely, you should do what’s most comfortable for you. Always be sure to turn your head to check blind spots, in addition to using all vehicle mirrors.

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