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  • Writer's pictureTom Fowler

Is it Illegal to Drive Without a Rear View Mirror?

Updated: Feb 23, 2022

Most vehicles come with a rearview mirror and at least two side-view mirrors. But have you ever wondered if it is illegal to drive without a rearview mirror?

Good question, and this guide has got your back. Let’s get started!

What are the mirror laws in Iowa

Mirror Laws in Iowa

Mirror laws vary from state to state so talk to injury attorneys near you to be sure on the law. In Iowa, every motor vehicle should be originally equipped with a mirror located at the center of the windshield and the right/left sides to reflect the view of the highway for a distance of two hundred feet to the rear of any motor vehicle like motor trucks.

Suppose a car is loaded or towing another motor vehicle, and you cannot see the rear window. In that case, it must be designed with a center mirror or side view mirrors.

But what would happen if it is not loaded or towing another vehicle? It is all right to remove or retract the side mirrors of such a vehicle.

How about for a van? Using outside mirrors should not be ignored.

Why are Rear View Mirrors a Motor Vehicle’s Accessory You Should Not Miss?

It is not illegal to drive without a rearview mirror as long as there are two functional side mirrors.

Every vehicle has blind spots in its front, right/left side, and rear. Its style and size can also be a big problem and can lead to a traffic violation. That is why the larger the vehicle, the greater the danger. This can put the lives of cyclists and pedestrians at risk.

This is where either a center mirror or rearview mirror can come to your rescue. Side view mirrors are also an excellent alternative.

Below are some reasons you should always have an efficient and functional/damage-free rearview mirror:

Glancing Out Over Your Shoulder is Not Required

Glancing out over your shoulder while driving can be exhausting. That is no longer necessary today. Thanks to a central rearview mirror.

Whether you need to merge or exit freeways, you can get it done like a pro while preventing a severe traffic violation or oncoming traffic. You can also join the traffic flow without the need to take your eyes off the motor vehicle in front, taking your safety to the next level.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over 18% of vehicle collisions happen when changing lanes. So, it is crucial to check any vehicle on your side and at your back in the same direction as yours. Plus, be on the right line parallel to other motorists.

Perfect for Drivers Suffering from Neck and Back Mobility Impairments

It would be hard and impossible for drivers with neck and back mobility impairments to glance out over their shoulders when driving.

A clear and sturdy center mirror can make a big difference. Once installed, you do not have to twist and turn in your seat even when parking in your garage, office, or mall.

Driving is fun. But doing it for a few hours can cause extreme fatigue and discomfort.

Reduce any physical pain with either a center mirror or a side mirror.

Easy and Quick Installation

Another advantage of center mirrors is that they are easy to install without in-depth knowledge and expensive materials required.

Before setting up the center rearview mirror, prepare razors, a dryer, tools for cleaning the glass, and other specialized materials if necessary.

To install rearview mirrors, all you have to do is remove its mounting button first. Once removed, make sure to heat the windshield part where the center mirrors were previously installed.

From there, clean the front windshield to remove any tough stains. Next, identify the proper position wherein you would install the mirror. Then, apply the best adhesive for the mirror of your choice and reconnect it to the mount. That’s it! There is no complicated procedure to bear in mind and follow.

Competitively Priced

Rearview mirrors won’t cost you an arm or a leg. They are extremely affordable. How much does a rear view mirror cost?

While the rate may vary depending on what is compatible with your motor vehicle, the price of either a center mirror or rearview mirror ranges from $4 to $650.

If you are on a tight budget, you can find brands that are competitively priced. But do not invest in something cheaper. It is always better to purchase products that are of good value instead.

Although they may be available at a double rate or more, they’ll save you money in the long run.

What are Some Mirror Laws in Other States?

In Iowa, it is not illegal to drive without a rearview mirror. How about the other states? Well, they do implement different and unique mirror laws.

South Dakota

South Dakota makes a side mirror mandatory when the center rearview mirror is blocked like other state laws. But it is much better when both have an unobstructed view or a clear view of the highway.

Despite that, focus on your driving while you are on the road. Also, remember that your center mirror and the other two mirrors near your right and left front door must have a driver's view of a minimum of 200 feet (60.96 meters) to the rear of your vehicle.

North Dakota

A center rearview mirror can play a critical role in the driver’s safety.

But sometimes, they may become obstructed, and the common problem is putting big objects near the rear window or the rear side windows.

Also, many factors cause car collisions. Blind spots are on top of the list.

Experts say blind spots can cause severe road accidents as they block pedestrians or other vehicles from the driver’s view or right-side mirror.

This is the reason North Dakota implements strict mirror requirements. That's why there is a driver-side mirror required.

If the center rearview mirror has an unobstructed view and you can see what's behind your rear window or have at least one mirror, you are good to go.

West Virginia

Another state that does not require any outside mirror is West Virginia. But there is an exception to this state law.

Using only one mirror at the side of the vehicle must have a driver’s clear view of the highway.

Like Iowa, every motor vehicle that obstructs the person’s view to the rear from the driver’s position must have a mirror that can reach a distance of two hundred feet to the rear of such vehicle like a motor truck.

If you find something confusing with any equipment required, there is nothing wrong with asking for help from an expert.

Rhode Island

There are multiple types of motor vehicle accidents in Rhode Island. These include rear-end collisions, sideswipe crashes, rollover accidents, side-impact collisions, single-vehicle crashes, and head-on collisions.

Sideswipe crashes, in particular, are the most common accidents on the road. Usually, it is caused by drivers who do not check blind spots before changing lanes.

Due to the increasing sideswipe crashes, the state mandates that any motor vehicle traveling have an outside rearview mirror and a left side mirror.


Motor vehicles have played a big part in Michigan’s rich history. For that reason, it is no surprise that the state makes mirrors required. The left side mirror is usually the recommended vehicle accessory.

But any historic vehicle is exempted from the law, and it is not illegal to drive without a mirror.

Signs you need to replace your mirror

Signs to Have Your Rear-View Mirror Replaced

A rearview mirror is an essential feature in every motor vehicle. It helps you see what’s behind your motor vehicle.

But what if there’s something wrong with the rearview mirror? Do not leave it unattended for days, weeks, or months. It is time to have the rearview mirror replaced.

When is the best time to invest in something new and durable? Here are a few signs:

It Is Missing

How long have you been looking for the missing mirror of your car? If it’s been an hour and you need to go to the office, that would be frustrating.

It is always ideal to buy a new one. With the high demand from the market, the rearview mirror comes with countless brands. Which should you choose?

Get rid of the cheapest options from your list and look for a reliable and sought-after alternative.

While buying at least one mirror is enough, purchase two mirrors instead to save your time.

It has Some Cracks

We know how inconvenient it is to shop for a rearview mirror. But when it has some cracks and other damages, you should have them repaired or replaced as soon as possible.

Although it is still possible to use a rearview mirror with cracks, the reflected view will not be as straightforward as it should be.

Nothing can beat the advantage of using a feature-packed side view mirror.

The Light Dimming Function is No Longer Efficient

Most vehicles are available with a rearview mirror designed to dim the reflection. This is excellent for night driving.

When vehicles approaching your car have bright headlights, this type of rearview mirror can level up your driving experience.

If this primary function does not work as expected, you should get your mirror arranged and replaced.

How to Use Your Mirror on The Left-Hand Side or Driver Side Properly

Why does the driver’s vehicle with a passenger side-view mirror still cause a collision/crash and a traffic violation?

Although you have two rearview mirrors, they are not enough when you do not know how to use them accordingly.

If you have been in a car accident because you could not check blind spots, that’s all right. Below are some tricks that will help you optimize the advantage/benefit of a free mirror:

Check Your Side Mirrors to See If Any Vehicle is Following You

This is important whenever you change lanes. Although you need to go to the office on time, check every mirror installed on your car in a manner that will not compromise your safety.

Glance Over to At Least Two Mirrors Every Five Seconds

Anything may happen while you are on the road. To avoid a hefty fine/ticket from a law enforcement officer, look at all mirrors on your vehicle.

If you encounter or are in an accident, you can contact the nearest police officer, your insurance provider and accident attorneys. If someone requires immediate medical attention, call an ambulance right away.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to achieve the best driver's position?

While it depends on one's preference, be sure to keep things leveled. That means you should point your chest to the steering wheel. You also have to stay comfortable and relaxed.

What makes mirrors required?

It is for safety purposes just like the hood of the car. Without a center and outside mirror, you cannot have a perfect view of the highway.


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