Can I Use the Rearview Mirror to Drive in Reverse?

It’s tempting to throw your car in reverse and back up using the rearview mirror to see where you’re going. DO NOT DO THIS! It’s very dangerous to use the car rear view mirror to drive in reverse. This mirror should only be used when driving forward, to see cars behind you. It can also be used to supplement backing up – providing you with a direct view right behind your car.

Why shouldn’t you use the mirror?

There are a couple of reasons that you should never rely on the rearview mirror to drive in reverse. However, the most important is this – it doesn’t give you a full field of view. It only shows you what is immediately behind your car. Even then, it doesn’t show you anything below the trunk lid. Typically, it’s about 30 to 45 feet from the car before you can actually see the pavement.

How to back up properly

In order to drive in reverse, you should do several things:

  • Check the rearview mirror to determine if there are people or vehicles directly behind you

  • Check the side view mirrors to determine if people or vehicles are moving toward you from either direction

  • Turn your head over your right shoulder and physically look behind you while backing up

Ideally, you’ll never drive in reverse farther than what it takes to get out of a parking spot. However, there will most likely be times when you have to go farther in reverse. In these instances, you’ll still need to actually turn your head over your shoulder after thoroughly checking all three mirrors.

What about a rearview backup camera?

Backup cameras have become very popular and are actually now mandated by law on new vehicles sold in the US. However, they’re not a cure-all. Even the best backup camera will not provide you with the field of view that you need for real safety. The best course of action is to use your rear view mirror and camera, as well as looking back physically, and limiting the amount of driving you do in reverse.


The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

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