Objects in mirror are closer than they appear

The phrase "objects in (the) mirror are closer than they appear" is a safety warning that is required[lower-alpha 1] to be engraved on passenger side mirrors of motor vehicles in the United States, Canada, Nepal, 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.[1] The warning serves as a reminder to the driver of this potential problem.

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. These include books,[2] films (including non-English ones),[lower-alpha 2] cartoons,[lower-alpha 3] songs,[lower-alpha 4] music albums,[lower-alpha 5] and other contexts.[lower-alpha 6]

See also


  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. Such as the Iranian film Objects in Mirror
  3. Probably the most famous instance in pop culture was showing the approach of a Tyrannosaurus rex in the 1993 film Jurassic Park, which was parodied in Toy Story 2. In the 1980's, Gary Larson, in his syndicated cartoon series The Far Side, published a cartoon showing a rear view mirror inscribed with the warning, filled with a giant eye.
  4. "Objects in the Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer than They Are," a 1994 song written by Jim Steinman and performed by Meat Loaf.
  5. For example, Objects in the Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear, a 1993 album by Nancy Moran.
  6. "Subjects in the mirror are more far than they appear" the title of experimental visual project by Hungarian director/production designer Pater Sparrow.


  1. Why does the passenger side window on my car state 'objects in mirror are closer than they appear?' Explanation from PhysLink.com.
  2. Objects in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear, a 1995 novel by Katharine Weber.
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