Are Mirrors Going the Way of the Dodo?

As far back as the 1940s, many roadways in America were only one lane in each direction. Because of this, drivers were only concerned with traffic on their side of the road or directly behind them (aka traffic in their “rear view”). Moving onto the 1960s, most vehicles with an internal rear-view mirror had the passenger-side mirror only as an optional add-on, as it was considered a luxury item and not a mandatory safety item.

By 2003, a petition was submitted that would require all commercial trucks that travel on interstate highways to have convex mirrors affixed to their front fenders in order to eliminate “blind spots”’ that were inherent to the size of larger trucks and vehicles. The petition was later withdrawn, but the question still remained, “Can this type of safety equipment truly make trucks safer?”

Fast forward to today. At least one company has capitalized on the idea that mirrors may not be the best way to reduce blind spots and increase visibility after all.  So the firm replaced the traditional truck mirrors with a camera system that comprises two high-definition cameras mounted on the side of the vehicle, coupled with video screens inside the truck cabin that the driver can easily see.

You might be asking yourself why the adoption of cameras instead of mirrors?

Here are a few reasons why:

  • These costly mirror replacements can actually save on fuel mileage by reducing drag.
  • These cameras can cover a greater field of view compared to conventional mirrors.
  • The risk of damage to the mirror when maneuvering in tight quarters is greatly reduced because the high-definition (HD) cameras are much smaller than normal side mirrors.

The takeaway is this: With the influx of all electric vehicles and the convenience of cameras being widely installed across several markets, there is a high likelihood that your next truck might just be equipped with a complete review system absent of any mirrors.

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About the Author

Chris Manescu

Chris Manescu joined the Mitchell 1 Commercial Vehicle Group as a Technical Editor in 2010. Chris worked as an ASE certified repair technician for over 20 years after his service in the United States Marine Corps.