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Mirror, mirror on the car

Modern vehicles have a variety of accessories that come standard in most vehicles. Seat belts, seat warmers, and air conditions were not always included in cars in the past. Most of these features have just recently become the new norm. One addition that was most recently standardized within the last few decades is the side mirror. For most of the 20th century, side-view mirrors were not the norm, but an optional add-on feature for new cars. This may come as a surprise becomes one of the first lessons we learn in Driver’s Ed is to check your side mirrors and glance over your shoulder before switching lanes.

For the first half of the 20th century, many roads only consisted of two lanes, with each lane headed in the opposite direction. Therefore, design and safety requirements depended on the regulations during the period a vehicle was manufactured. Vehicles consisted of only the features that lawmakers deemed necessary. Since most roads were only one lane at the time, there weren’t many occurrences where you’d have to look over your shoulder to switch lanes. The four-lane road, where two lanes were going in the same direction, wasn’t adopted until the end of the 20th century with President Eisenhower. After Eisenhower passed the bill for the new multi-lane highway system, new regulations for changing lanes needed to be adopted. 

With the popularity of the side mirrors being a standard, Volvo introduced the revolutionary Blind Spot Information System or BLIS. Volvo improved the side-view mirrors to include sensors to assist drivers with lane changing. Volvo implemented its first vehicle with the Blind Spot Information System in 2007, with Ford and Mazda following suit years later. The BLIS has made it possible for additional features to be released, such as the rear parking sonar and the lane departure system. 

The side-view mirror has increased safe driving practices and decreased the number of accidents over the years. While the side-view mirror is brilliant in its own way, it still does not replace turning and checking over your shoulders. The side-view mirrors and BLIS are not foolproof, and cars can slip behind their parameters. While these technological advancements are helpful, the only way to check your blind spot is by physically looking at it yourself.

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