Is it illegal to drive with a broken wing mirror?

Is it illegal to drive with a broken wing mirror?

Wing mirrors give you a full picture of what’s happening to the rear of your car. To do this, they jut out to the sides which can leave them vulnerable to passing cars, bicyclists, or even clumsy pedestrians who clip the mirror as they walk past after a night on the town.

Broken wing mirrors are one of the most common automotive repair jobs, so if you’ve discovered your wing mirror is cracked, smashed, or hanging off completely — you’re not alone! But what happens next? Is it illegal to drive with a broken wing mirror? And, can you drive with one wing mirror? For the answers to these questions and more, just keep reading…


Can you drive with a broken wing mirror?

Technically, yes. But should you? No, probably not. Before we get into the legality of it, it’s worth mentioning that good, working wing mirrors are important for the following reasons:

  • Your wing mirrors give you a rearview which is needed to safely overtake other cars — this is especially important on motorways where traffic is moving quickly and where drivers must be aware of their surroundings at all times.
  • A restricted view can affect your confidence as a driver, increasing your chances of getting into an accident.
  • Broken parts or hanging debris from wrecked wing mirrors can cause damage to other vehicles and/or injure cyclists and pedestrians if they fly off.
  • Parking without a full rear view is not only enormously difficult, but you could even end up damaging your vehicle in the process.

At the end of the day, it’s the same reason you wouldn’t drive with a cracked windscreen — if your vision is compromised, you could be putting your personal safety (and that of others) at risk. You might also cause further damage to your vehicle, which is only going to increase that bill when you finally book your car in for servicing. But what if you’re not able to get it fixed right away? Or if you need to drive somewhere urgently? We’ll cover what the law says about that next.  

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So while we’ve discussed why it’s not exactly a good idea, is it illegal to drive without a wing mirror? Well, according to the Construction and Use Regulations laid out in 1986, vehicles must have at least two rearview mirrors that are fully operational at any time. That means if one mirror is broken, obscured, or missing completely, the other two mirrors will need to be in tip-top shape. Just to recap, all cars have three rearview mirrors which are…

  • The offside rear view mirror (that’s the wing mirror on the driver’s side)
  • The nearside rear view mirror (that’s the wing mirror on the passenger’s side)
  • The central rear view mirror (that’s the one in the middle, up high)

However, of these two mirrors that must be fully operational at all times, one will always need to be your offside rear view mirror. So to answer the question: is it legal to drive without a wing mirror? It really depends on which wing mirror is broken or missing. For example, you could have a broken nearside wing mirror and still drive using your offside and central mirrors. But if it’s the offside wing mirror on the driver’s side that’s broken? You won’t legally be allowed on the road and your car would likely fail its next MOT.

Quick note: There is one exception to this rule, and that’s if your car was first used before the 1st of August 1978. That’s because some cars from this period were only made with one rear view mirror, so you’d only need to have that mirror intact to continue driving.


Can the police stop you for a broken mirror?

So let’s say you’ve got a broken nearside mirror, but you’re on a road trip and don’t fancy stopping off to get it fixed. It’s not illegal, right? Well no, as long as you’ve got your offside and central mirror in good, working order, you’re not technically breaking any law. But can the police still pull you over? Actually, yes.

Even though it’s not illegal, the police still have a responsibility to intervene when any vehicle on the road appears to be unsafe in any way. They could pull you over, which if you’ve ever been pulled over by the police before, you’ll know can be a bit intimidating. Or they could issue a notice that requires you to get the damage repaired within a fourteen-day time period.

In severe cases, they could even add points to your licence or fine you for driving with the damages. That’s because the Road Traffic Act of 1988 states that any driver can be fined if their vehicle’s condition is such that it carries a significant risk of endangering or injuring any person. This fine can be as much as £2,500, so it’s worth thinking twice before you set off on the road with a damaged wing mirror.


A few final tips…

All in all, can you drive without a wing mirror? Technically, yes, but it’s really more a question of whether you’d want to. Considering the risks to your personal safety and the safety of others, plus the added risk of attracting police attention — it’s probably a good idea to get a damaged wing mirror fixed asap.

If your car needs some TLC, you might be interested to read: ‘How long does a full car service take?’

Once your car is all fixed up, why not check out ‘How much does car detailing cost’ for some extra sparkle and shine.

If you’ve been in an accident and your car is damaged beyond repair, you might find it useful to read: ‘How much to scrap my car’.

Urban Jungle is not a financial advisor and information in this article should not be taken as advice or recommendation.