Once upon a time I wasn’t exactly what you’d call the best driver. For some reason I kept getting into accidents that were ruled as my fault. One particular time, I attempted to fight a ticket for failure to yield the right of way, in court, and they offered me a compromise. If I’d attend an eight hour driver education class, they’d dismiss the charges and there would be no additional points on my license.
I honestly didn’t expect to learn anything of value, but I took the class, and learned a lot. Of all the things I learned, the one most valuable piece of information that I learned and the simple truth that I learned and keep trying to teach others is also one of the many things that nobody will listen to or believe because it contradicts what they think they know. How to set your wing mirrors, those mirrors to either side of your car. I know how you probably set yours. Everybody is taught the same way. Adjust them so that you can just see the side of your car. Isn’t that how you were taught? That’s how I was taught. That way, if a terrorist is creeping up behind your car on foot with a rocket launcher, you’ll be able to see him as he sneaks up alongside your car. Or, If a motorcyclist is lane splitting you won’t be foolish enough to open your car door in traffic at just the wrong moment.
Everybody has that blind spot. You set your wing mirrors so that behind you at your 7 to 8 o’clock you can’t see that car who’s been silently hiding there, riding along in your blind spot. I know, I know. You’re supposed to turn your head and look behind you before changing lanes. That’s certainly the best policy and I’d say that you definitely should when you can. But sometimes…that’s not an option.
There are moments in time that are absolutely critical. Events converge and you have a split second to make a decision. Most people slam on the brakes and pray. Do you have enough time to stop? Does the car behind you have enough time to stop? What about going around? Is that an option? Do you have time to turn around in your seat and look behind you with that split second you have to make your decision? Can you really afford to have a blind spot in the middle of your side lanes?
Think about it logically. Where is a car more likely to be? four inches from your left rear quarter panel or four feet? Your rear-view mirror already covers the spot four inches from your rear left and right quarter panels. Why do you have your wing-mirrors aiming down the side of your car? It doesn’t make sense. Yet I’ve convinced nobody of this simple truth. I tell them of the better path, but they just shrug and keep going the same way they always have.
Here’s how to set your wing-mirrors. As you sit in the drivers seat, lean your shoulders to the left until your head is almost touching the left window. Then set your mirrors so that you can just see the left side of your car. Then sit straight again. You won’t be able to see the side of your own car, but you will be able to see your seven-to eight o’clock. Now lean way over to the right, until your head is in the center of the car. Now set your right wing-mirror so that you can just see the right side of your car. You won’t be able to see ninja’s sidling up beside you in your wing-mirrors anymore, but you will be able so see that one car that always seems to be riding right there, in your former blind spot.
I may not have convinced you. If the past is any indicator I haven’t. People know what they know, and all the logic in the world just goes in one ear and out the other if they hear something that contradicts what they know to be true. Setting my wing-mirrors like this has been a life-saver. I mean that in the most literal sense.