The most dangerous part of the car...

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Feb 01, 1992

Dear Tom and Ray:

I've heard the saying that the most dangerous part of the car is the loose nut behind the wheel, but I would vote for the right side view mirror. Why is it designed so that the approaching car appears to be much farther away than it really is? I know that there is a warning on the mirror, but why not just use a regular mirror like the one on the driver's side? I hope you can ex?plain it to me.

TOM: The reason it's there, Horace, is to eliminate the "blind spot" on the right side of the car. With a regular mirror, there's a spot where another car can "hide," and be invisible to you as you change lanes. The convex (or wide-angle) mirror eliminates that blind spot.

RAY: You're right that it does have a disadvantage. It makes things look smaller--and farther away--than they really are. So it does take some getting used to.

TOM: The best way to use it is in conjunction with your rear view mirror. Check your rear view mirror first. Then check your right side mirror. If the car you see in the right side mirror is the same car you see in your rear view mirror, then it's OK to change lanes. If it's not the same car, that means there's another car that's closer to you on your right, and you shouldn't change lanes until you locate it.

RAY: If you think this technology takes getting used to Horace, wait until you drive a modern motor home. Many of the larger ones (like "The Ultimate Behemoth II", for example) now come with video cameras on the back. When you put them into reverse, the video camera comes on so you can see what's behind you. It's a pretty good system. It allows you to see how many Toyotas you're crushing as you back into your spot at Yellowstone.

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