Auto Safety Foundation Spotlights Mirror Safety Crisis

August 31, 2005

Paul Raul of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) confirmed this week that a recall of standard equipment side-view mirrors is likely due to safety issues.

These mirrors reportedly have a hazardous blind spot that conceals quickly approaching or nearby vehicles, causing merging and lane-changing endangerment. This would constitute the biggest automotive recall of all times. The recall of all standard side-view mirrors, which could occur at any time, would impact tens of millions of motorists across the United States.

According to accident statistics from the NHTSA and the U.S. Department of Transportation, more than 413,000 vehicle accidents are caused by blind spot-related mishaps. Lane change accidents such as side-swipes damage more than 826,000 vehicles and injure more than 160,000 people each and every year. Convex mirrors can reportedly drastically reduce those numbers.

The NHTSA has stated that studies show “passenger side mirror image comparisons of convex and planar mirrors illustrate the enhanced traffic detection provided by convex mirrors. With a convex passenger side mirror the driver will reportedly be able to detect a vehicle in the next lane even if the vehicle is as far forward as the passenger side window, while the driver of a vehicle with a flat passenger side mirror, as required by S6, cannot see the vehicle until it is almost 20 feet behind the vehicle.”

In 2004, the European Union (EU) passed regulation to address new rules to eliminate the “blind spot” on motor vehicles that would entail:

— Increasing the mandatory minimum field of vision for certain vehicles;
— Mounting additional mirrors on certain vehicles;
— Upgrading technical characteristics of mirrors in line with technical progress;
— Replacing certain mirrors with other indirect vision systems, such as camera/monitor systems.

According to Raul, side-view mirrors pop out and can be replaced
easily. ASF agreed with the EU’s recommendation that aftermarket safety mirror attachments be added to vehicles. ASF recommends that safe aftermarket mirrors should be made more readily available at retail outlets and distributed by state or federal governments.

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