Freakonomics looks at the blind spot.
Math professor R. Andrew Hicks has come up with an amazing new rear-view mirror for the driver’s side of the car that eliminates blind spots. The secret is that standard mirrors are flat, but this one has subtle curves that greatly widens the field of view, but without being distorting. If you look at the photo accompanying the link above, it is amazing how much better the new mirror seems to be.
Alas, you won’t see Hicks’s mirror on many cars any time soon. U.S. regulations require that driver’s side mirrors be flat, and this mirror is not flat. So if you want one, you will have to buy it and install it on the car yourself.
It seems strange to me that the U.S. government is in the business of telling auto makers what shape their mirrors should be. Doesn’t that seem like something that markets can take care of just fine on their own? I can’t think of many good reasons why car makers would opt for a curved mirror if flat mirrors perform better. What is the government trying to protect against? Instead, by having such specific regulations, it will probably be years – if ever – before this great new invention becomes widely available.