Don’t hang your mask

Published 5:39 pm Tuesday, September 29, 2020

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As Virginia continues to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, everyone should have a mask with them at all times and use it when they’re indoors in a public place. Even if you don’t plan to make any indoor stops on your trip, it’s a good idea to carry it with you anyway, just in case you need it.

But AAA Tidewater Virginia is sounding the alarm that hanging a mask, or any other item, from your rearview mirror is a bridge too far.

Just as not wearing a mask is a safety hazard, hanging a mask or anything that obstructs your view from your rearview mirror is a safety hazard, as well. So while you should keep your mask with you at all times, we recommend finding a place for it where you will remember it and can easily access it that doesn’t block your view.

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“Having a clear field of vision is extremely important for your safety,” said AAA Tidewater Virginia spokesperson Holly Dalby. “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% 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.

In Virginia, drivers are not allowed to hang anything from their rearview mirrors while driving, including handicap placards. You should remove these while the vehicle is in motion.

Let’s all stay safe during this pandemic by wearing our masks, and by not keeping them on our rearview mirrors.

Some other vision-related driver safety tips include:

  • Scan the roadway and shoulder/median areas 30 seconds ahead.
  • Use your mirrors to scan to your sides and rear as you drive.
  • In parking lots, look for shadows on the ground to help identify pedestrians or vehicles before you can see them.
  • Dim interior 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.