Let me relate a funny story regarding this mirror adjustment business. Several years ago at a staff meeting, we had a defensive driving instructor from our insurance carrier who was absolutely fanatical about the “head against the glass” method of adjusting outside mirrors. After his classroom presentation, which was about 90% devoted to the mirror issue, he wanted to take our drivers out three at a time to demonstrate the technique and have them use it.
With the first three drivers in the car and him behind the wheel, he proceeded to demonstrate in detail how to make the mirror adjustment before pulling out into traffic. He hadn’t gone three blocks until, making a lane change, he clipped the right front fender of another car.
What had happened was that the guy in the left rear seat was pretty good sized, and his head blocked the portion of the view from the inside mirror that was supposed to cover the blind spot off the left quarter that was created when the outside mirror was adjusted outwards. The other car was too far back to be seen in the outward adjusted outside mirror and too far forward to be seen in the partially obstructed inside mirror. It would have been clearly visible, however, had the outside mirrors been adjusted the “old-fashioned” way.
Needless to say, the mirror adjusting demonstration came to a screeching halt, and our insurance company was more than a little red-faced over the incident. Interestingly, over the next six months we had two more lane changing accidents, and in both instances the driver had followed the “head against the glass” adjustment method. Although in those two accidents our drivers were determined to have been in error for not having observed the inside and outside mirrors simultaneously, we decided to put out a memo advising drivers to adjust their mirrors in whichever way they felt most comfortable with. A full seven years passed before our next lane changing accident, and that one was again with the outside mirrors adjusted outward.
This method of adjusting mirrors undoubtedly works under many circumstances and with many drivers, but it should not be taught as gospel. There are just too many situations in which it is impractical, too many vehicles where it simply won’t work, and too many drivers who will never adapt to it.
Probably a better solution is to have two outside mirrors on each side, one to be adjusted in the conventional manner and the other a wide-angle to cover the area immediately next to the vehicle. This is seen a lot on large trucks where an inside mirror is totally useless, and it’s even showing up on some pickups. It would add a few bucks to the cost of the car, but it would certainly be more worthwhile than some of the junk they put on them now. In the meantime, the adhesive spot mirrors afford pretty good coverage provided that the outside mirrors are large enough to accomodate them.