Mirrors are the unsung heroes of driving, and you don’t notice just how much you use them until you lose them. But driving with a broken mirror is safe, right? The answer is, not always; it depends on which mirror and just how damaged it is.
Modern cars have wing mirrors that tuck in automatically when locked, but older cars or cars with damaged circuits won’t. Cars parked on roads or in public car parks are at risk of having their wing mirror knocked and broken; all too often, the perpetrator won’t hang around to swap insurance details. Often, drivers fail to fix or replace their wing mirror, choosing to avoid the cost of repairs and insurance excess, or of impacting on a no-claims bonus.
Most vehicles have three rear-view mirrors: the driver’s side wing mirror, known as the offside rear-view mirror, the passenger side wing mirror (the nearside rear-view mirror) and the interior mirror.
The law states that all cars made after August 1978 must have at least two mirrors. So, technically, if one mirror is broken, you should be ok legally, as long as the other two are in good condition and provide an adequate view of the car’s rear. Your offside rear-view mirror and interior mirror are obligatory: if either broken or damaged, your vehicle will fail its MOT test. This means that, theoretically, you are legally able to drive if your nearside rear-view mirror is damaged or missing. However, you can be pulled over by police if they notice that any of your mirrors aren’t functional. If you are pulled over, you will have to bear the embarrassment and the police have the right to issue a fourteen-day notice to repair specified damage.
You may not receive a hefty on-the-spot fine if either your interior or nearside rear-view mirrors are damaged or missing, but you will impact the safety of your driving. A responsible driver will make sure that all their mirrors are functioning, and will get any damage repaired as soon as possible to prevent accident or injury to themselves and others. If you are towing a vehicle that obstructs your view in the rear—view mirrors, such as a caravan or large trailer, you need wing-mirror extensions, so that you can clearly see the rear of the item you are towing.
The trick is to use common sense – if you can easily see the rear of your vehicle, or the vehicle you are towing, then your rear-view mirrors are safe, and you are good to go. If you can’t see behind you without straining or twisting, you need to get your wing-mirrors fixed.
A reliable local garage will help you to get your rear-view mirrors and all associated wiring repaired safely, and at a relatively low cost.