This Is How You Adjust and Use Your Mirrors Properly to Have Clear Visibility

Updated on

There is a reason driver’s education teachers hound you about checking your mirrors.

Your side and rear-view mirrors are among the most important safety features on your vehicle. Without them, you would only be able to view a fraction of the roadway at a time and your odds of a collision would skyrocket. While glancing from side to side and upwards every few seconds may be a bit awkward at first, developing the habit of correctly using your mirrors is a top priority.

Before you hit the road, you must adjust your side and rearview mirrors so that you have clear visibility in each of them. Here’s how:

How to Adjust Your Mirrors Properly

  1. 1

    Sit in the driver’s seat. Position the seat and steering wheel so that you are comfortable and have access to the gear shifter, brake pedal, and accelerator.

  2. 2

    Gently maneuver the rear view mirror so that you can see directly out of the middle of your back windshield without moving your head. The goal is to be able to quickly glance from the road in front of you to the road behind you without having to move or turn your body.

    rear view mirror
    Make sure you’re sitting in your usual position while adjusting a rear view mirror

  3. 3

    Locate the levers or buttons that adjust the side mirrors. Many newer models have a small lever or joy-stick on the driver’s side door that electronically adjusts the side mirrors. Older models often require you to manually adjust them using a lever or by pressing on the mirror itself.

    mirror buttons
    Never experiment with these buttons while driving

  4. 4

    Adjust the driver’s side mirror first. Make adjustments then sit back in the driver’s seat to ensure that you can see the road behind you and a small sliver of the side of your car.

  5. 5

    Next, adjust the passenger side mirror. If you have to adjust it manually, you may need to move between the passenger’s and driver’s seats until it is properly adjusted.

  6. 6

    After all mirrors have been adjusted, sit in the driver’s seat and look in each, starting with the driver’s side mirror. You should view everything behind you in segments as you glance along.

    To summarize, here is a video guide for mirror adjustment.

Now that your mirrors are adjusted, here are some driving scenarios that require you to use your mirrors:

How to Use Your Mirrors Properly

  1. 1

    Merging on the Interstate

    When changing lanes, first check your rearview mirror to see if any cars are following you. As you begin to signal your intention to turn, check the side mirror on the side you plan to merge to. For example, if you plan to merge from the left lane to the right lane, check your right side mirror for traffic approaching in that lane. Continue to glance between your rearview and side mirrors as you complete the merge. The video below contains a smart tip for choosing appropriate timing while changing lanes.

  2. 2

    General Driving

    Safety experts recommend that you keep a constant scan of all your vehicle’s mirrors while driving. Take a quick glance at one mirror every five seconds starting with the driver’s side mirror.

  3. 3

    Parallel Parking

    All three of your mirrors are essential to successfully parallel parking your vehicle. Check out How to Parallel Park for more information on how to use your mirrors to squeeze your vehicle into a tricky parking space.

    The following video will also give you an idea of how to use mirrors while parking:

  4. 4

    When Pulling a Trailer

    Checking your mirrors is a must when your vehicle is pulling a trailer of any kind. When making turns, watch the mirror to the inside of the turn to ensure that the trailer’s wheels do not hit the curb.

Proper adjustment and usage of your vehicle’s side and rearview mirrors will prevent dangerous blind spots and keep your vehicle out of the path of approaching traffic.

Ladies, remember that your rearview mirror really isn’t for make-up application, especially while operating the car!

Andrei Zakhareuski, Driving-Tests.org Founder
Andrei is a driver with 11+ years of experience and the founder of Driving-Tests.org.

You may also like:

Do You Hold a Steering Wheel Correctly? 3 Crucial Aspects of Safe Driving

Properly holding the steering wheel of your vehicle is an important safety precaution to observe every time you get behind the wheel. When you complete your driving exam, the administrator will watch your body position while you are behind the wheel of the test vehicle. One aspect that the instructor will be looking for is proper placement of your hands on the steering wheel. Many drivers often wonder why the way that they hold or use the steering ...

5 Defensive Tips to Be Prepared for the Perils of the Road

From the moment you get into your car until the moment you exit it, you are at the mercy of other drivers. We can’t control what other drivers do, but we can make sure we are prepared and ready to respond. Here are defensive tips so you’re prepared for the perils of the road. Also, check out this infographic about safe driving. 5 Hazards on the Road and How to Prepare for Them1 Know Your Car Like people, each car has a unique personality. ...

8 Crucial Steps to Avoid Common Errors When Changing Lanes

Errors made when changing lanes are some of the most common causes of automobile accidents. Whether you are driving on a busy metropolitan four lane road or on an interstate highway, you must use proper lane changing techniques every time you switch from one lane to another. Below are several general considerations about changing lanes that every driver should be aware of.On a four lane road where two lanes travel in one direction and two othe ...