The mirrors on your semi give you a view of the roadway and the other drivers around you. Well-placed, well-maintained mirrors can make the difference between a secure, successful delivery and a nightmare driving experience. Manage your truck mirrors by following these tips.
Know the Laws Covering Mirrors
Each state has its own rules regarding the number and placement of mirrors on semis and other vehicles that tow trailers or have limited visibility. Many states, including Georgia, Colorado, Illinois, and Kentucky, have laws that require one or two mirrors be installed that reflect a rear view of the road for at least 200 feet behind the rig.
Most states expect drivers to install extra mirrors when the view from the windshield-based rearview mirror is obstructed. Some states specify the type of mirrors truckers should install, while other states leave it up to the trucker to install mirrors that increase the visibility behind their rigs.
In Pennsylvania, the law states that your mirrors may extend only 6 inches past the width of the rig or load. Consider purchasing folding mirrors if you regularly drive through Pennsylvania.
Keep up to date with mirror laws in every state where you drive your truck. You’ll be safer, and your mirrors will pass state inspections.
Add More Mirrors for Added Safety
More mirrors mean more visibility, so add as many mirrors as you can to increase your view around your rig. Flat or plane-style left and right side mirrors are standard primary mirrors for semis, but you can install other mirrors that offer wider views of traffic and nearby obstacles.
Types of truck mirrors available include the following:
- Extended-length planar mirrors for wide loads
- Convex side mirrors
- Fender-mounted mirrors
- Hood-mounted mirrors
- Look-down or passenger-side mirrors
Convex side mirrors are normally mounted just below the planar side mirrors on semis. Hood-mounted and fender-mounted mirrors are often convex mirrors with deep curves to help truckers when changing lanes and backing into spaces.
Look-down mirrors are mounted at the top of the passenger-side windows on large trucks. The look-down mirror helps you visualize traffic and obstacles on your right side and can help you view the blind spot in adjacent right-hand lanes.
Adjust Your Truck Mirrors Properly
Adjusting semi-truck mirrors is not a one-time task you can forget about after the job is done. Check and adjust your mirrors during every pre-trip inspection. Variances in load widths can change the view mirrors offer, and high winds or other disruptions can cause mirrors to move out of proper adjustment.
Adjust your mirrors when the truck and trailer are parked straight and in alignment. Sit in the driver’s seat in your usual driving position to check your view in your primary mirrors. Get out of your truck and move the primary mirrors until the inside edges of the mirrors give you a clear view of the back edges of the trailer. Take the time to make sure you have reduced all blind spots.
Next, adjust the convex mirrors below your primary mirrors. Convex mirrors should be adjusted until they show the same view of the edges of the trailer that primary mirrors show.
Hood- and fender-mounted mirrors normally don’t require adjustment, since they’re permanently mounted to the hood or fender. Adjust look-down mirrors so that they are aimed at your right-side blind spot.
Inspect and Maintain Mirrors Often
Before, during, and after trips, inspect all of your mirrors for proper operation and condition. Check the durability of mirror attachments and fasteners, and tighten any loose or wobbling mirrors. Improperly secured mirrors will vibrate when you drive down the highway, which will limit the clarity and detail in the reflection you see.
Check mirrors for the following additional issues:
- Stickers or labels on surfaces
- Mud, bird droppings, and dirt
- Cracks and chips
- Loose glass
- Damage to frames and fasteners
Every trip you take in your semi exposes the mirrors to hazards and grime. Don’t find out too late that one of your mirrors is filthy and doesn’t give you a clear view of traffic.
Use Mirrors Correctly While Driving
Experts recommend that you keep a constant check on your mirrors at all times when on the road. Glance at your mirrors every 8 to 10 seconds to stay alert to the traffic overtaking you in the lanes behind and to the sides of your rig. By maintaining a view behind you, you can respond safely and quickly in the event of a problem up ahead.
Always check your mirrors before attempting lane changes. Your mirrors will let you know if you have enough room to move to the next lane. Check mirrors again after you signal your intention to change lanes, as you make the lane change, and after you’ve completed your lane change. Frequent mirror checks before, during, and after lane changes helps you maintain awareness of the vehicles around you.
Remember these mirror tips while driving. And when are looking for your next semi or commercial truck, be sure to shop at Arrow Truck Sales. We offer drivers and fleets the best used truck inventory, including high-performance semis and commercial trucks from all major manufacturers.