I almost got creamed on the 401 eastbound near McCowan Road on Friday, by a gold-coloured Pontiac Montana minivan whose driver clearly didn't have his/her mirrors adjusted properly (all I could tell was that the driver was very short; gender was indeterminable).
How could I tell the mirrors were wrong?
Because as I was approaching from the left, almost entirely alongside the van, over (s)he came. (S)he obviously didn't see me, because the van's outside mirrors were pointing to the sides of the van.
I was already covering the brake pedal and ready with the steering just in case; I gave what I felt at the time was an appropriate greeting with my horn (others might have felt it a trifle excessive), the Pontiac corrected its course, and on we went, unscathed. The van subsequently did achieve the left lane, and sped by at a fairly high rate of knots.
What is this fascination most drivers seem to have with the sides of their own vehicles?
There is no need whatsoever to adjust your outside mirrors to keep track of the sides of your own vehicle; you know EXACTLY where they are. One of them is just by your left elbow, the other is over on your right, both pretty much where you left them when you got in the vehicle earlier in the day.
It's what's in the lanes BESIDE the sides of your own vehicle that you need to be aware of.
If this particular driver had had the van's left-side outside mirror cranked out far enough to see the adjacent lane, (s)he would have seen me with just a glance into that mirror - no need to swivel the head around like Linda Blair in 'The Exorcist' to check the imaginary 'blind spot'.
Not that (s)he did a shoulder check either, but that's another story.
How ironic then that the very next pixelboard sign, just a few hundred meters further along, contained the utterly useless and, frankly, dangerous suggestion, "Check blind spots before changing lanes."
Dangerous (a) because it implies that there ARE "blind spots" - in any normal passenger car or light truck, there simply are not - and (b) because you should NOT be looking over your shoulder when you're barreling down the road at 100+ km/h. That's about six car lengths a second, folks.
I know I have gone on about mirror adjustment before, in print and in this blog. I'm sure most if not all regular readers know the right thing to do, and do it.
Obviously, I don't have enough readers!
Lady Leadfoot asked me the other day what's the easiest way to tell if the mirrors are correct.
Well, the BEST way is to set them while stationary in an empty parking lot. Have someone walk around your vehicle from where the middle of the adjacent lane on your left would be, behind your vehicle, then to where the middle of the adjacent lane on your right would be. You should be able to adjust the left- and right-side outside mirrors, plus your inside rear view mirror, so you never lose sight of the person walking behind your vehicle.
The EASIEST way to check once you're rolling is: If you see the same object in any TWO of those mirrors, then at least one of them is incorrect. Every time you see two images of the same thing, there's very likely at least one other thing back there that you are not seeing at all.
Maybe we have to make like that old TV advert for a hair care product (Faberge Organic Shampoo or Miss Clairol? Even Google can't settle that argument...): "She told two friends, and they told two friends, and so on, and so on...".
Maybe we can network/viral market this concept.
Tell two people you know who do not adjust their mirrors correctly, have them tell two friends, and so on, and so on...
Because the driver of this Pontiac Minivan, about 90 percent of the drivers on the road - and whoever puts those messages on the pixelboard signs - just don't get it.