The side-view mirrors that protrude on either side of a car may appear small in size, but they play a massive role in ensuring safe and effective driving.

Apart from physically enhancing the appearance of your car, Side mirrors also give you a clear view of what is happening around your vehicle and in your surroundings. You can describe it as having an extra set of eyes on the road.

Whether you want to turn lanes or you want to keep track of the movement of other vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists in your surroundings, side mirrors, when positioned properly, are a big help in ensuring a safe and smooth transition without collisions.

Side mirrors are also invaluable when parking or maneuvering in tight spaces. They assist in judging how close you are to other vehicles, curbs, or obstacles, thereby helping you navigate safely during parallel parking, backing up, or negotiating narrow streets.

Side mirrors generally reduce the need for over-the-shoulder checks, allowing you to maintain forward vision while checking blind spots, and increasing visibility of what’s behind your car. 

They ultimately help you to anticipate and react quickly to potential hazards and reduce the risk of accidents or collisions by providing an extended view of the road.

is it illegal to drive without wide mirrors

Is It Safe To Drive Without A Side Mirror?

The location of side mirrors and the fact that they stick out from the body of the car make them more prone to accidental damage.

Side mirrors may appear steady but are quite vulnerable as it doesn’t take much force to smash them off completely. Activities as simple as closing your car door too hard can cause you to end up with a shattered side mirror. 

Other external forces such as collision with other vehicles, or even kids playing soccer where your car is parked, can cause these side mirrors to dangle loosely or break off completely from the door, taking away their purpose and rendering them useless.

Backing out of a tight space or parking in a narrow street sometimes can be all you need to be in danger of a broken mirror.

You can even be a victim of vandals who may decide to do some damage to one or both of your wing mirrors even if you’re parked on a private street.

Overall, this shows that you can be extremely skillful and careful as a driver still ends up with a broken side mirror. Since it has been established that a broken mirror is inevitable, what can you do if you end up being a victim of this unfortunate circumstance? Can you still drive safely in such a situation?

Well, If you’re missing only one side mirror and you’re a skilled driver, the answer is “Yes”. The rear view and one side mirror are enough for expert drivers to drive the car safely. 

However, if you are unskilled or both of your mirrors are missing, driving is undoubtedly risky.

Is It Illegal To Drive Without A Side Mirror?

The legality of driving without side mirrors depends on the jurisdiction you are in. In many countries, it is a legal requirement to have functioning side mirrors on your vehicle.

If your vehicle has one side mirror and one rear-view mirror, you can still have a tremendous visual range while on the road, but is it legal to drive without a side mirror?

The mirror laws that govern cars vary from one state to another. In most states, drivers are required to have at least two mirrors out of three when driving. This can be a combination of the rearview mirror and one side mirror or two side mirrors.

It is generally believed that two mirrors are enough to help drivers see what is behind and around them. Federal laws, however, mandate two side mirrors and a rearview mirror. Luckily, this applies more to manufacturers than vehicle drivers.

The state traffic laws about side-view and rear-view are the ones you should be concerned with as a driver because they determine how safely you can drive without being pulled over or given a ticket.

States like Mississippi, Oklahoma, Utah, Washington, Illinois, North Dakota, Montana, Vermont, California, and Texas allow drivers to drive with one side mirror as long as it is complemented with rearview mirrors.

In states such as Missouri, Alabama, Alaska, Nebraska, Florida, Indiana, and New Jersey, you need both side mirrors in your vehicle to drive it legally.

It is always best to consult the specific traffic laws and regulations in your local area or consult with local authorities to determine the legal requirements for your jurisdiction to avoid getting into trouble with law enforcement officials over a missing mirror.

The Safety of Driving Without Mirrors in a Digital Age

With advancements in technology, there have been developments in alternative systems that can potentially replace traditional side mirrors.

One such technology is the use of camera-based systems, or “digital mirrors”,  where cameras capture the rear and side views of the vehicle and display them on screens inside the vehicle, typically on the dashboard or in the door panels.

Most cars now come with reversing cameras or sensors that aid parking and lane changing. Additionally, self-driving technologies, which make driving more convenient and easier, are already being installed in modern-day cars.

Several car manufacturers have already started incorporating digital mirror systems into their vehicles, and some jurisdictions have allowed them as a substitute for traditional mirrors.

In Japan, for example, it is now legal for cars to be manufactured without side mirrors, as long as they are replaced with cameras and video feeds.

In the USA, reverse cameras are now mandatory in all new cars. This is the first step towards ditching side mirrors and might be adopted by even more countries as the years go by.

This also confirms the possibility of regulations evolving to allow the use of these alternative systems in place of traditional side mirrors. 

At the present time, however, regulations regarding the use of digital mirrors still vary from country to country, and not all jurisdictions permit them yet. Until such changes occur and are widely implemented, driving without side mirrors will likely remain illegal in most jurisdictions.

Governments and regulatory bodies will likely need to assess the technology’s safety and ensure it meets or exceeds the requirements currently set for traditional mirrors before allowing their widespread use.

The acceptance and legality of digital mirrors or other mirror replacement technologies will depend on various factors, including their effectiveness, reliability, and compliance with safety standards. 

Most of the world hasn’t taken the futuristic step of Japan yet, but replacing side mirrors with digital mirrors could have some benefits. These benefits include a wider view and the elimination of blind spots.

With no wing mirrors sticking out, aerodynamics and fuel efficiency would also be improved. In the near future, driving without side mirrors might not be a legal problem. 

Closing the curtain

The mirrors in your car were created and installed for good reasons. These mirrors are the only thing you have aside from the windshield to help you see beside and behind you and prevent road accidents.

The legality of driving without a side mirror differs from state to state, therefore, the most advisable thing is to know about your state’s laws so that a police officer will not have a good reason to pull you over.

The good news is that most states require either a center mirror or one side-view mirror, so even if you have an issue with one of your side mirrors, you can still drive legally.

To be on the safe side, however, you should get your broken or damaged side mirror fixed as soon as you possibly can. There is no reason to put it off and risk your safety and peace of mind.

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About the Author

Larry Cruise


I know a lot about cars, man. I can look at any car's headlights and tell you exactly which way it's coming.

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