AAA Texas wants to remind all drivers that hanging items from your rearview mirror, including protective masks, is a safety hazard. With the current requirement to wear masks in public across Texas, many people keep masks in their vehicles. Some motorists have found that hanging them from the rearview mirror is a convenient way to keep them handy. However, a mask or any other object hanging from a mirror can partially block your field of vision, increasing the risk of a crash.
Impaired visibility contributed to 3,447 crashes on Texas roadways in 2019, with 51 of the crashes resulting in fatality, according to Texas Department of Transportation crash data. It should be noted the data does not list items hanging from rearview mirrors as a direct cause but reflects that impaired visibility can be a contributing factor in a crash.
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“Having a clear field of vision is extremely important to your safety when on the road,” said AAA Texas spokesperson Daniel Armbruster. “Items such as masks, air fresheners, parking placards or anything else that reduces your ability to see things around you is a safety hazard and could increase your risk for a crash.”
In a typical city, a driver encounters as many as 200 situations per mile. The eyes provide nearly 90 percent of the information needed to respond to road conditions, traffic patterns, signs and signals. Spotting signs is largely a function of side vision. Obstructing this field of vision, even partially, can cause you to miss things that should be seen, such as signs, pedestrians, wildlife, motorcycles, bikes, or other vehicles.
Some other vision related driver safety tips include:
- Scan the roadway and shoulder/median areas 30 seconds ahead.
- At night, adjust your speed to the range of your headlights.
- Read signs by shape and color.
- Dim dash lights when driving after dark. Remove any light-colored or reflective materials from the dash.
- To cope with glare, adjust the rearview mirror to the night setting.
- As vehicles approach at night, look toward the right side of the road.
- Keep a flashlight on hand to read signs and house numbers when driving after dark.
In Texas, if a driver is involved in a crash due to impaired visibility they could be cited under certain circumstances. Texas law leaves the decision of whether there’s been a violation up to the investigating officer or agency.
About AAA: AAA provides more than 60 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 34 motor clubs and nearly 1,100 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. AAA Texas branch offices throughout the state can be found by visiting www.AAA.com. Follow AAA Texas on Twitter: @AAATexas and Facebook: www.facebook.com/AAATexas.