Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Why Cars in the US Should Come with Aspheric Rear View Mirrors

If you've ever driven a car in Europe, you've probably noticed that the rear view mirrors are curved to eliminate blind spots. This is called "aspheric". Meanwhile in the US, all cars are shipped with flat rear view mirrors. Even European-made cars like my 2008 Volkswagen Rabbit (assembled in Wolfsburg, Germany) are sold with flat rear view mirrors like this one:

I mentioned this to my brother in Germany. He walked into a VW dealership and found out that given your VIN, any dealer in Germany can track down the exact specs of your US-equipped VW. I found the global trackability of my car pretty surprising. As a Christmas present, I got this:

See how the curved glass lets you see my hand with the camera? Having aspheric rear view mirrors decreases the size of your blind spot, as illustrated here:

Someone mentioned to me aspheric rear view mirrors are illegal in the US, but I haven't been able to confirm this. It wouldn't make sense: The US must be the country with the highest number of lane changes per capita per year. I haven't been able to find a vendor of these mirrors in the US, but next time you fly to Europe remember to bring your car's VIN.

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