A wider view

For 20 bucks or less, nowadays, you can buy an extra-wide convex mirror that clips onto your car’s existing rear-view mirror. We just tried one for the first time, and I’m pretty sure it’s a keeper. These gadgets claim to eliminate blind spots, and this one absolutely does. Driving down 101, I counted three seconds as a car passed through my driver’s-side blind spot. That’s a long time when you’re going 70 miles per hour; during that whole time I could see that passing car in the extended mirror.

Precious few gadgets spark joy for me. This one had me at hello. Not having to turn your head, avoiding the risk of not turning your head — these are huge benefits, quite possibly life-savers. For 20 bucks!

It got even better. As darkness fell, we wondered how it would handle approaching headlights. It’s not adjustable like the stock mirror, but that turns out not to be a problem. The mirror dims those headlights so they’re easy to look at. The same lights in the side mirrors are blinding by comparison.

I’ve been driving more than 40 years. This expanded view could have been made available at any point along the way. There’s nothing electronic or digital. It’s just a better idea that combines existing ingredients in a new way. That pretty much sums up my own approach to product development.

Finally, there’s the metaphor. Seeing around corners is a superpower I’ve always wanted. I used to love taking photos with the fisheye lens on my dad’s 35mm Exacta, now I love making panoramic views with my phone. I hate being blindsided, on the road and in life, by things I can’t see coming. I hate narrow-mindedness, and always reach for a wider view.

I’ll never overcome all my blind spots but it’s nice to chip away at them. After today, there will be several fewer to contend with.

File:A wider view at sunset – geograph.org.uk – 593022.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

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9 thoughts on “A wider view

  1. Some newer cars come with an electronic rear view mirror. It takes a video signal from a camera on the rear. Even though it has a wider view than a normal rear view mirror, I hate mine and don’t use it (I can also set the mirror to be an ordinary one).

    The problem is that a video feed is two-dimensional, so you have to refocus your eyes when you look up at the mirror, then again when you look again out the front. You have to cope with changing not only the view angle but also the different focus distance and the flat image. It’s awful. Your clipon sounds so much better.

    1. Yeah, the last thing I feel that I need in this life is another screen.

      The new mirror does present more visual information than you’re used to, and that’s going to be an adjustment. We’ll see how it goes, but so far, very promising.

    1. The one we got, I just discovered, #1 at https://autoquarterly.com/best-wide-angle-mirrors/. But they’re so cheap we ordered a different one as well, which hasn’t arrived yet. It’s kind of interesting that there are so many variations on the theme suddenly available on the market. It’s fascinating how this better mousetrap was always within easy reach, but for whatever reason the idea didn’t come along — or perhaps, gain traction — until now.

  2. Funny you should say this, I’ve been feeling the same way about typical, manufacturer supplied mirrors for the last few years. I caved in an got that little stick on dot/convex mirror for the external side mirrors. That is almost too small to be useful, I’ve had to train myself, remind myself ot use it. Some years ago, I did bump into a Sky Mall like after-market mirror that actually would attach to the roof liner and extend the FULL width of the car practically speaking. And it too had a slight curve. But now, knowing this, it’s almost effortless. I’ve got one now in my online shopping cart. So thanks for sharing. This is a bit of friction/doubt in my daily driving existence. Looking forward to getting it now.

    1. After a few more days, I’m noticing that the side mirrors feel like a distraction. In almost every situation I can see more, and better, using the main mirror. I don’t just feel safer, it’s actually exhilarating to have one’s perception expanded in this way. Driving feels very different — less stressful, more enjoyable.

  3. my 1982 Ford Econoline had these convex mirrors and they were essential.
    All my other cars since then haven’t had a blind spot, so I have not felt the need, though I remember the mirrors fondly..

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