Tag Archives: mirrors

Driving with disabled placard on your mirror

The in basket: Beverly Romig said it irritates her to see drivers with handicapped parking placards dangling from their rearview mirrors as they drive.

The placards instruct the driver to remove it from the mirror when driving.

She asked about it at a recent AARP driving course, she said, and the instructor didn’t have an answer. He suggested she ask me.

When I asked if it’s an infraction to disregard the instruction, I drew a comparison between that, air fresheners, fuzzy dice and even driving with a dog in your lap, something that isn’t specifically illegal, but can result in a citation if the driver is obviously struggling to control the car.

The out basket: Trooper Russ Winger of the State Patrol here, says, “I am not aware of any specific (law) that prohibits driving with a disabled placard hanging on a mirror.


“I would say that it is a bad idea” Russ said, “to drive with any object – or pet – that might interfere with the driver’s ability to observe other motorists, make appropriate eye contact with other motorists at intersections, or identify hazards to safe driving. Specific items hanging from a mirror are not identified in any RCW.


“Any officer would have to make a judgment call when observing this type of thing,” he said. “If an infraction ticket were issued the officer should be able to articulate why they felt it was a clear hazard. More than likely it would be after the fact, when this situation may have either caused or contributed to a collision.”

What I learned in the AARP driving course

The in basket: My wife, The Judybaker, and I took part in one of the many April senior driving safety classes sponsored by AARP and administered by Glen Adrig of Bremerton.

Glen extended a personal invitation because I write this column, and I figured that my wife and I, in our mid-60s, could benefit. It cost us $12 each, being AARP members. It’s $14 for a non-member.

The course is offered every month at eight or ninelocations between Bainbridge Island and Shelton. They are taught by a variety of local people and Glen oversees the entire district. Call Glen at 360-377-2448 to find one near you.

The out basket: Among the things I learned is that the instruction we all got as youngsters to hold the steering wheel at the 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock positions has been made obsolete by air bags.

If your hands are that high on the wheel when you are in a collision and your air bags deploy, they can smack you in the face, adding to your injuries. The 3 and 9 positions are safer, we were told.

I’ve since been noticing how I hold the wheel, and am alarmed at how often my right hand is at 12 o’clock, the top of the wheel. My nose would be a sitting duck for a self-inflicted punch if I’m ever in a bad crash.

I am constantly reminding myself to bring them down. I’m making progress but I have a ways to go.

Glen also instructed us in an alternative way to position our side mirrors to reduce their blind spots. I’ve heard of it for years, but never tried it. You tip the mirrors farther away from your car until you no longer can see see the side of it while sitting straight in the driver’s seat.

Glen modified the instruction in the AARP manual so that you can see the sides of your car by leaning a little one way or the other. The manual made the adjustment more extreme.

I’ve done it and am getting used to not being able to confirm what I see in my inside rearview mirror in the outside mirrors.

He also told us to try hitting our brakes hard at about 30 miles per hour in a deserted parking lot to acquaint ourselves with the unusual noises and pulsing of the brake pedal in a car with anti-lock brakes. I haven’t done that, as I often disregard the instruction not to pump anti-lock brakes.

Except in an emergency hard stop, in which case I doubt noises and pulsating would have any effect on how I press the brake pedal,  I regard flashing my brake lights when slowing to be a vital warning to the driver behind me that solid brake lights might not provide.

That’s just a taste of what the eilght-hour, two-day course covered and we got to take the 121-page course booklet home with us.