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Is It Illegal to Tow Without Towing Mirrors?

Is It Illegal to Tow Without Towing Mirrors?

Towing a lengthy trailer can be incredibly dangerous because you can have massive blind spots while driving. Depending on your vehicle, the factory-installed mirrors may not do much to help you see the rear of your trailer. Did you know that you could be breaking the law if you don’t have towing mirrors on your vehicle while towing? 

Whether you need new mirrors or you want to upgrade to extendable towing mirrors, we can help you decide. Let’s take a look and see which mirror upgrades you should add to your shopping cart. 

What Is a Towing Mirror?

A towing mirror is a specialized mirror that extends out so a driver pulling a trailer can see as far back as possible. These mirrors increase the driver’s visible distance behind them and help eliminate blind spots when towing.

Standard mirror
Standard mirrors don’t always allow you to see your trailer and what’s going on behind it.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re towing a large RV or a boat; standard mirrors don’t always cut it. Being able to see the rear of your trailer is essential to avoiding accidents while towing. Some vehicles designed with towing in mind come equipped with special mirrors for that purpose, but you can purchase clip-on towing mirrors or upgrade your existing ones to be better for pulling.

Learn more towing safety tips here: How to Tow an RV: The Beginner’s Guide

Is It Illegal to Tow Without Towing Mirrors?

Laws regarding towing mirrors vary from state to state. Most states require that a driver be able to see beyond the rear of their trailer to a specific distance.

An example of one law is from Illinois and is written as follows

(625 ILCS 5/12-502) (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 12-502)       Sec. 12-502.  Mirrors.  Every motor vehicle, operated singly or when towing another vehicle, shall be equipped with a mirror so located as to reflect to the driver a view of the highway for a distance of at least 200 feet to the rear of such motor vehicle.

Most states have similar language written around towing mirrors and 200-300 feet visibility behind the trailer is common.

This typically isn’t a problem for those driving a truck because manufacturers often install mirrors that provide a clear enough view. 

However, if you’re pulling a trailer with an SUV or other vehicle, you may need to purchase and add extendable mirrors to your vehicle.

Truck pulling a travel trailer
Seeing beyond the rear of your trailer is so important that most states require towing mirrors by law.

How to Choose the Correct Towing Mirror?

If you’re in the market for a set of towing mirrors, ensure you get the correct ones. A good rule of thumb is to assume you need one inch of mirror for every 10ft of your vehicle’s length. This means if your combined length between your truck and trailer is 50ft, you’ll need a 5in mirror.

Also, consider how it will mount or secure to your vehicle. You don’t want to purchase a mirror and discover that it cannot fasten to your vehicle. Many online retailers offer filters that let you search for mirrors known to fit your vehicle’s make and model. That way, you can avoid an error when purchasing.

Should You Buy Folding Mirrors?

Purchasing folding towing mirrors is a great idea, especially if you’re a larger vehicle. This can be beneficial when you’re driving on a narrow road, in a tight parking spot, or in any other situation where you’re worried about your vehicle’s width.

Truck with folding towing mirrors
Folding mirrors allow you to park in regular parking spaces without worrying about another vehicle clipping your mirrors.

It may be an unnecessary purchase if you’re driving a smaller vehicle and looking to upgrade the mirrors. However, it’s always better to have them and not need them than not to have them and need them.

Should You Choose Portable or Permanent Mirrors?

Whether you should purchase portable or permanent mirrors greatly depends on how often you’ll be pulling something. If you’re a full-time RVer, you’ll likely want to invest a bit more money and purchase a quality set of permanent mirrors. 

Towing Mirrors for Our Dodge Ram 1500

However, if you only plan to tow a couple of times a year or seasonally, you could likely get by with a set of portable mirrors that you can move from one vehicle to another.

5 Best Towing Mirrors

You don’t want to buy any old towing mirrors; you want the best. Let’s look at the five best upgrades we think you should consider.

CIPA Clip-On Towing Mirror

The CIPA clip-on towing mirror is a budget-friendly temporary option that can fit most factory truck and van mirrors. These mirrors upgrade your factory mirrors to give you 7in of additional mirror without obstructing your factory-installed mirrors. 

Sale
CIPA 11950 Clip-On Towing Mirror Black & Silver,...
  • Universal In Application And Position
  • Clips Directly Onto Existing Mirrors For Quick Setup With No...
  • Extends Your Towing Vision Up To 7”

This is an excellent option if you have temporary or light towing needs. However, if you’re expecting to tow regularly, you’ll want to consider a more heavy-duty alternative. 

Pro Tip: Before you purchase an RV make sure you budget for upgrades like towing mirrors. Otherwise, you might find the cost of an RV is more than you bargained for.

K-Source Custom Mirrors

These mirrors are a complete replacement for your vehicle’s factory-installed mirrors. If you’re looking for customizable electric mirrors that have built-in defrost and turn signals, the K-Source custom mirrors are a great option. While they’re a premium price, they’re worth the investment if you’re planning to tow trailers regularly. 

Dometic Milenco Towing Mirror

The Dometic Milenco Towing Mirror is a twin pack that can give you a clear view of whatever you’re pulling. It comes with a universal design where the mirror clips onto the factory mirror and extends four inches outside of your factory mirrors. 

Sale
Dometic DM-2912 Milenco Grand Aero3 Towing Mirror...
  • UNIVERSAL DESIGN - Dometic Milenco Aero3 has been designed to...
  • EASY GRIP CLAMP ATTACHMENTS - This clip on towing mirror is easy...
  • AIR BALANCED DESIGN - The mirror design utilizes airflow around...

This increased distance combined with a design that absorbs vibrations from the road provides an incredibly clear view. The mirror’s components are all designed to withstand the varying elements you’ll encounter while on the road. So you don’t have to worry about screws rusting or mirror discoloration.

What's Behind You? Towing Mirror Extensions Review & Installation: Dometic Milenco Grand Aero3

CIPA Black Tow Mirror

This product slides around the factory-installed mirrors on your vehicle and locks into place. This unique design helps absorb and eliminate any vibrations from the road, making it easy to see what’s behind you while towing. 

Sale
CIPA 10950 Chevrolet/GMC Custom Towing Mirror -...
  • slides over existing mirror with wedge lock security
  • custom design ensures a perfect fit and no annoying vibration
  • easy installation with no tools required

Installing these mirrors requires no tools, and you could do it in minutes. These are specifically for Chevrolet and GMC vehicles, so verify their compatibility with your vehicle before ordering. Whether you’re looking to tow regularly or occasionally, these mirrors are a great choice.

ECCP Towing Mirror

The ECCP Towing Mirror is a fantastic upgrade. This electric mirror has a heated function and power adjustments. You can also manually flip them up when in a tight space. The quick and easy installation ensures you won’t need to stress about swapping out your factory-installed ones for these much larger and more capable extendable mirrors. If you’re regularly pulling a trailer, you want a quality option like these ECP products to get the job done. 

ECCPP Towing Mirrors W/Brackets Replacement fit...
  • 🎄【FITMENT】- Compatible for (1)1998 - 2001 for Dodge for...
  • 🎄【MIRROR FEATURES】 - Location: Driver Side and Passenger...
  • 🎄【REFERENCE NUMBERS】- CH1320307, CH1321307, 55076488AE,...

Is Upgrading Your Towing Mirrors Worth It? 

While it’s important to keep your eyes on the road in front of you when you’re towing, it’s also important to glance back behind you regularly. Towing means constantly being aware of who or what is around you, and having a quality set of towing mirrors can enable you to do that. 

Ram Towing Mirror seeing around RV
Because towing mirrors make you a safer driver, they’re a worthwhile investment for most RVers.

Backup cameras also help RVers see behind their rigs to avoid collisions. Here are our top picks: 8 Best RV Backup Cameras to Make RV Driving Easier

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Floyd Smith

Saturday 14th of May 2022

Is there a law stating that you have to pull your mirrors in when parked in the city on the side of the road.

Jacques

Monday 1st of November 2021

Regarding towing mirrors and backup cameras, both needs are answered with a full-time camera (not a 'backup camera") and factory installed nowadays on a fair proportion of rigs. We tow a travel trailer and our view of traffic behind it extends a long ways back and also wide angle (about three road lanes) as well as close to the back of the trailer (for backing up).

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