Ask a Trooper: Can I still drive without a side mirror?

Question: My truck was backed into yesterday and the mirror on the driver’s side broke off mirror. It is dangling by the wire now.  Will I be legal to drive if I remove it or do I try to tape it back into position until it can be fixed?

Answer: I am sorry to hear about the mirror. If your vehicle has one on the windshield or even another one on the passenger’s side, you are legal in Minnesota.  According to the Minnesota Driver’s Manual, all passenger vehicles must be equipped with rearview mirrors.  Vehicles such as rental moving trucks, which are not designed to allow a view through the rear window, must be equipped with an additional side mirror.  Pickup trucks, which are often used for hauling purposes, must also be equipped with an additional side mirror.  The side mirror will provide the driver with a clear view when transported materials obstruct sight through the rearview mirror.

Without mirrors or with limited mirrors, the driver is unable to see behind them from different angles and may crash. Side mirrors help drivers see other vehicles when changing lanes, assist the driver in determining how close other vehicles are, and in the event an emergency vehicle approaches, a driver is able to slow down and safely pullover and yield the right-of-way.

In my experience over the years, I have encountered many unsafe situations while responding to emergencies with my lights and siren on where vehicles in front of me had no idea that I was behind them. When the driver finally realized there was a patrol car behind them, they would become startled and apply the brakes very hard and/or swerve into the other lanes or shoulder very quickly, creating a very dangerous situation.

I recommend that drivers have two outside mirrors, along with a rearview mirror attached to their windshield at all times. If a driver is pulling a trailer and the view to the rear is obstructed, I recommend purchasing rearview mirror extensions so the driver is able to clearly see behind the vehicle.  

Please avoid distractions while driving and make it a habit of checking rearview mirrors often. This will increase a driver’s odds of avoiding a crash.

A portion of state statutes were used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes. If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Trp. Jesse Grabow – Minnesota State Patrol at 1000 Highway 10 West, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501-2205.  (You can follow him on Twitter @MSPPIO_NW or reach him at, jesse.grabow@state.mn.us).

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