Ever since you learned how to drive, you were taught to be careful when changing lanes using your side mirror because “Objects In Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear.” But, why is this so? Elementary my dear Watson…physics!
Next time you are in your car, closely inspect your side mirrors. You will see that the surface of your driver’s side mirror is flat, while the surface of your sideview mirror on the passenger side is a convex shape. A convex mirror curves slightly like the outside of a large bowl. Also notice that due to its convex shape, the image in the mirror looks farther away than it truly is. Bear with me for a moment as I get all “Bill Nye: Science Guy” on you. An image is created in a mirror when light hits the surface. A convex mirror bends light as it is reflected. So, the farther away a point is from the center, the more the light is bent. As a result, the image formed in a convex mirror is smaller than an image in a flat mirror. Because the images are smaller, more fits on the surface of the mirror. For drivers, a convex mirror offers a wider field of vision and that’s why they are installed on your vehicle. Tada!
But in all seriousness, it’s important how to properly use your sidemirrors when driving. Even before you start up the engine, check and adjust your mirrors. Especially after someone else has been driving your vehicle beforehand. Also, when adjusting your mirrors, be sure you’re positioned correctly in the seat and can easily reach the pedals and wheel. Then, adjust the side mirrors outward until you can no longer see your own car. Finally, as you need a clean window to effectively see out of, keep your mirrors sparkling and in good condition to get the clearest views possible.
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