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One of our astute readers pointed out to me that he had been unable to find anything anywhere on the subject of mirrors. So, to fill that gap, here’s some help.
Folks coming into their first
RV are probably not aware of the importance of mirrors.
there are a couple of ‘em on my car . . . I mostly just turn my head
and look.” Well,
that’s not going to work if you are driving a coach or towing.
So I’m going to talk about what you need to know about using
your mirrors, and go on the
record as saying that most of the mirrors commonly found on recreational
vehicles and tow vehicles
as useless to you as a bicycle is to a fish.
Most motorhomes have a mirror
on each side. That’s
good…as far as it goes. Trouble
is, it doesn’t go far enough. Trust
me on this. Over two
million miles of line-haul experience as a professional driver has
taught me a great deal about mirrors and one of the most important
things I’ve learned is that, contrary to popular belief, size does
Since I haven’t gone around
measuring everyone’s’ mirrors, the sizes I’ll be mentioning are
nothing more than “guess-timates”.
It looks like a large percentage of motorhome mirrors are about 6
inches wide and 10 inches tall (with the possible exception of the
“high-end” coaches like Prevost and others in that class).
The bottom 3 inches of these mirrors is of the “convex” type. This is to allow a greater view, most generally from
side-to-side. On a
motorhome of over 30 feet, these mirrors are woefully inadequate.
The driver can’t see what he needs
to, and what he sees in the convex mirror is probably too small to
notice. This becomes
critically important, especially if the RV is operating in heavy traffic
on multi-lane streets or highways where there may be vehicles on both
What can you do in order to
of what’s in your vicinity?
of the appropriate
Bigger is better!
Learn to use
about the mirrors on your standard pickup?
Are they any better? Not
as far as I’m concerned. Again,
too small, and frequently not extended out far enough to allow you to
see down the sides of your towed trailer.
I’ve seen folks who stick those little 2-inch convex spots to
the lower outside corners of their stock mirrors, hoping they’ll be
enough. But, in reality,
all they do is cut down on the actual viewing area of their regular
mirrors. So save your
Then there are those who buy the clamp-ons,
clip-ons, strap-ons, and/or extensions to add to their stock mirrors.
Once again, don’t waste your cash.
Most of these things don’t do a thing to enhance your “field
of vision” and may vibrate so much that they become totally useless
except when parked with the engine off. An exception to this are
by Hensley Mfg.
So what to do?
Our mantra at RV Safety is “If
you’re driving an RV, you’re driving a truck, and there’s a whole
new set of rules.”
So REPLACE your mirrors with the type the truckers use...larger
mirrors (See # 1 above) of approximately 6+ inches wide by about 14
inches tall. It might cost
a few sheckles for some body work, but the expense may very well prevent
an accident. You can use
your “truck mirrors” to see down the side of your rig and about 200
feet beyond. This includes
a good portion of the adjacent lane.
you’ve replaced those little mirrors, then add the “convex
rule-of-thumb is “one
inch in diameter for each ten feet of total vehicle length…minimum”.
What this means to you is that, if you have a 34-foot motorhome,
you’ll need a 3 1/2 inch spot mirror.
Since they don’t make that size, the minimum required would be 4
inches. In my
professional opinion, a 6-inch spot mirror would be better (See #2
above). Place your spot
mirrors below your truck mirrors. Be sure not to obstruct any portion of
your field of vision in the flat mirrors.
You can then see traffic approaching almost directly beside your RV on each side.
When you adjust these spots, try to do so in order to see the
hindmost wheel of your rig. On
the right (passenger side), you may elect to place a 4 to 6-inch spot
just above the door or passenger’s window, adjusted so that you may
look below to see if there is anything directly below your normal field
TO USE THEM! If you usually
drive a car, you are used to many more options for seeing what is around
you. You don’t have those
options in an RV, and on the road, in traffic, is not the time to find
this out. So, pick out a
parking lot; take a friend along in a car, and PRACTICE!
See and be seen.
Use your driving lights, even in the daylight hours.
This will enable others to see you more readily.
Use those mirrors…constantly.
Be very aware of what is ahead, behind, and beside you at all
times. And remember this:
Driving is a full-time job.
That means no cell phones,
hamburgers, makeup, or reading material.
When changing lanes, check your mirrors
and check your mirrors again. When
it’s safe to move into another lane, do so, then check your mirrors
again. When you learn to
use your mirrors properly, you will be a much safer driver.
With all that said…happy travelin’, and I’ll see ya down the road.
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