Objects in mirror are closer than they appear

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Side-view mirror with legend
Main article: Wing mirror

The phrase "objects in (the) mirror are closer than they appear" is a safety warning that is required[1] to be engraved on passenger side mirrors of motor vehicles in the USA, Canada, India and Saudi Arabia. It is present because while these mirrors' convexity gives them a useful field of view, it also makes objects appear smaller. Since smaller-appearing objects seem farther away than they actually are, a driver might make a maneuver such as a lane change assuming an adjacent vehicle is a safe distance behind, when in fact it is quite a bit closer.[2] The warning serves as a reminder to the driver of this potential problem.

Wing mirror on Korean-specification vehicle. Legend in Korean reads "Objects in mirror are closer than they appear".

In popular culture[edit]

Despite its origin as a utilitarian safety warning, the phrase has become a well known catch phrase that has been used for many other purposes. Some of them are:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ For example, in the U.S, PART 571 Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, Section 571.111 S5.4.2 "Each convex mirror shall have permanently and indelibly marked at the lower edge of the mirror's reflective surface, in letters not less than 4.8 mm nor more than 6.4 mm high the words “Objects in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear.”
  2. ^ Why does the passenger side window on my car state 'objects in mirror are closer than they appear?' Explanation from PhysLink.com.