Even those with no trucking experience can understand that 18-wheelers have larger blind spots than standard cars. According to the Advanced Technology Institute, “In the United States, the average length of a semi-trailer without the cab is 53 feet, and with the cab is about 70 to 80 feet.” With all this space to keep track of, truck drivers need to aim their truck’s mirrors properly in order to better see other vehicles on the road and to practice safe driving techniques.
Adjust Your Seat
Before you even think about adjusting your mirrors, it’s crucial that your seat is already in the proper position. Moving your mirrors before you adjust your seat could result in improper mirror placement, and you may end up having to adjust your mirrors again.
Angle the Driver’s Side Mirror
Normally, a driver would adjust their rearview mirror next. However, 18-wheelers don’t have these mirrors, as the semitrailer’s height would just block the view. Without this mirror, it’s even more important that both side mirrors are in positioned correctly.
Be sure to adjust your driver’s side mirror first. Since it’s the closer mirror to you, you’ll probably use it more. It should be positioned so that you have a view of the road behind you and a sliver of the vehicle’s side. To ensure the proper placement, sit back in your driver’s seat and move the mirror until the inside edge shows the trailer’s back corner.
Repeat with the Passenger’s Side Mirror
Once you finish with the driver’s side mirror, adjust the passenger’s side mirror in the same way. Ensuring that you can see the back corner of the trailer is crucial: this view will allow you to see other vehicles when you go to change lanes, particularly in your blind spots.
Invest in a Specialized Mirror
Keep in mind that these two mirrors might not be enough to help you see everything on the road. Newer truck models often come equipped with convex mirrors below the primary ones to help you see smaller cars along the truck’s side. Furthermore, hood- or fender-mounted mirrors are becoming more common to assist drivers with changing lanes. If you’re going to be transporting wider loads, you may want to install mirrors with extension brackets so that you can get a better view of the trailer. You also might need to upgrade your primary mirrors with angle mirror lenses to give you a larger view of the truck’s sides.