Car mirrors and their functions

For proper usage, you need to ensure that you can see the edge of your car through your side mirror. PHOTO by Abubaker Lubowa.

What you need to know:

A car has a number of mirrors and while it is obvious that they are meant to reflect the different activities happening around the car as you drive, some people do not know how to use them as Viola Matela writes.

Mirrors are one of the most important visual aids for safe driving. Some are manual and others are electronic and they vary in size depending on the vehicle.

Types of mirrors
There are different types and these include the interior driver’s, side, front view and rear view mirrors.

Driving mirror
The driving mirror is found inside the car above the driver’s seat. It enables one to see what is near the car. It helps a driver to calculate the distance between his or her car and the one behind them. “Driving mirrors allow the driver observe what is happening around their vehicle,” says Sultan Aitham, the sales and marketing manager of motorcare Uganda.

Side mirror
The car wing or door mirrors, commonly called side mirrors, are another type. They are usually mounted on car doors. Sultan says they must be fitted and in working state to qualify a car as roadworthy to pass on public roads.
With cars in Uganda, the driver sits on the right making the offside exterior side mirror a vital requirement. He says this means that the driver must constantly use this mirror together with the driving mirror. The opposite exterior mirror mainly applies for a left-hand drive car.
Nelson Musisi, a driving instructor at Ddembe Driving School, explains that side mirrors are made of curved convex glass to enable wider viewing angle of the rear. He advises that these mirrors must be kept clean at all times. This is for proper viewing of reflected images in the mirror.
Aitham says one must use them frequently to respond safely to what the mirror reflects. They should be adjusted to the driver’s seating position, height and convenience. He says the best way to check if your mirror is rightly placed is if you are able to view the rear of the car when you are in the driver’s seat.

Rear view mirror
This is usually found on vehicles with a flat end. They provide a view of objects at the closest range to your car by reflecting images to the interior driving mirror. Some cars have cameras that play this role or sensors to give alarms, which can distinguish the various objects.

Front view mirror
Front view mirror also reflects images of whatever is nearest to your car. It is used alongside the rear view mirror and should be used before starting the car. When you start driving, only use them sparingly as their role is done by the interior and side mirrors.

Musisi observes that the common mistakes in using driving mirrors iclude not knowing how to use the rear view mirror and seeing it as a mere decoration. People instead get out to check for nearby objects, which is time wasting and risky.
According to Musisi, some people do not adjust the mirrors to their size and height in cases where many people drive the same car. In such instances, they end up using only the interior driving mirror and they are unable to see what is on the sides of the car.
Musisi and Aitham both agree that if your side mirror is retractable, you must adjust them whenever you are parking and setting off. “Side mirrors should also be considered as part of the car when overtaking another vehicle. Failure to do so, may lead to accidents, loss of life or damage of vehicles,” Musisi advises.


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