Don’t Hang Stuff from your Rearview Mirror (Unless you want to Cause a Crash!)

It is too easy for so-called experts to claim that only four or five key problems cause the majority of road crashes.  That claim is indeed true — and of course we teach trainees all about those issues — but to act as though these are the only dangers that drivers will ever face is incompetent and is asking for trouble.  There are many seemingly minor problems that collectively still cause hundreds of thousands of crashes and far too many deaths and injuries in the USA every year.  In whatever training time we have available to us, we teach our trainees how to comprehend and deal with many of these additional dangers, too.

Photo of a red tassel hanging from the rearview mirror in a car that is being driven by a person who is also using a hand-held cellphone.
It may *seem* trivial but even small objects like this, hanging from the rearview mirror and swinging around, can trick a driver’s eyes into not noticing a child or a cyclist who just happens to be at that angle to the vehicle (which typically means on a curve or at an intersection). Plenty people have died as a result of this type of seemingly innocent scenario so please take all hanging objects off your rearview mirror. This person is also using a hand-held cellphone while driving, thus making a dangerous incident dramatically more likely.    (Image copyright, 2017.)

One seemingly innocent thing which countless drivers do is hang things from their rearview mirror, but depending on the circumstances at various locations, either the size or the swinging movement of such items can interfere with a driver’s view of a pedestrian, a motorcyclist or even a full-sized vehicle.

The video above was filmed from the back seat of an Uber car, but be aware that because the swinging objects were much closer to the driver’s eyes than they were to the camera they would block significantly more of the driver’s view than this footage might suggest.

It doesn’t matter whether the item is a tiny gold crucifix or St. Peter medallion, swinging and flashing reflections of sunlight, or it is a hanger allowing a disabled driver to park at relevant places, anything dangling from the mirror can, under certain circumstances, obstruct a driver’s view, so please keep things off the mirror and only use parking badges while the vehicle is actually parked.

Photo of a car being driven in very bad visibility (falling snow) and still having a disabled driver's badge hanging from the rearview mirror, significantly blocking the driver's view.
Despite the other obvious problems with visibility, this driver has also left a disabled driver’s badge hanging from the rearview mirror and these badges *always* block a significant zone of any driver’s view. This is such a significant danger that each state should have a law banning the badges being left on the mirror while the vehicle is being driven. (Image copyright, 2018.)

Sadly, some drivers just don’t get it about the need to maintain the best possible view out of their vehicle.  Such laziness or thoughtlessness undeniably is responsible for far too many deaths and serious injuries on America’s roads.

A very good, simple rule for safety is:  “Always keep the vehicle lights and windows clean and clear at all times.”

We urge you to remove any articles you or your family have hanging from the rearview mirror.  You might even save a life, and it could be that of your own loved one.


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Author: EddieWren

Eddie Wren is the CEO and Chief Instructor at Advanced Drivers of North America. His driver safety background is given at:

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