Is a traffic mirror the solution?

In some situations a traffic mirror may improve road safety and there may be no other option for a driver to see traffic on a public road as they exit a private road or driveway.

However, mirrors are not always the most appropriate solution.

Problems with traffic mirrors

There are problems with road mirrors, such as:

  • limited visibility when raining, at dawn or dusk
  • slight image distortion
  • unfamiliar users may find the distortion hard to use
  • a driver can misjudge speed and distances of approaching vehicles because of the mirror’s curvature
  • glare or reflections can dazzle or disorientate drivers
  • a driver may focus on the mirror and ignore immediate surroundings, such as pedestrians crossing in front of them
  • they are subject to vandalism, accidental damage, or can become obscured by condensation, dirt and vegetation.

Because traffic mirrors have potential disadvantages, we approve traffic mirrors as the exception rather than the norm.

The Council’s criteria below will help you decide if a traffic mirror is the best choice for your situation. Wherever possible, we recommend good planning and design of access and egress of roads rather than a traffic mirror. This is because of the potential disadvantages discussed above.

How to decide if a mirror is a good solution

Before thinking about a mirror, first consider these options to improve your sightline:

  • remove vegetation
  • cut back a bank
  • realign or remove a structure, eg a fence
  • move or realign a driveway
  • enter or exit the road at a safer location.

For example, if you cannot safely turn right, then only exit the drive going left. For right turns, find a safer location elsewhere.

Use these criteria in your assessment

If none of these options are possible, use these criteria to decide if installing a traffic mirror is the solution for your situation. These are the same criteria we use when assessing a traffic mirror application:

  • The area where the mirror will be installed has a 50km/hr speed limit or less
  • The mirror will not impact the public road’s safety and efficiency
  • There are no other ways to improve sightlines
  • Is it a safe and convenient alternative just to park nearby on the road? If parking on the road does not create congestion or a safety issue, and there is ample parking available, we may not approve an application
  • Can the mirror be installed:
    • 2.5 metres above the pedestrian access area?
    • where it won’t come in contact with pedestrians or any part of a vehicle?

A mirror installed above pedestrian reach is less likely to be vandalised.

Type of mirror

For Wellington conditions, we recommend the mirror is a minimum of 800mm in diameter and convex.

Heavy duty mirrors are designed to withstand vandalism and extreme weather; light mirrors have greater clarity and a variety of shapes and sizes.

The paperwork:

  • apply for encroachment licence
  • apply for resource consent or building consent if needed
  • when you need a road works notice
  • talk to utility network operators

More information

Transport Planning

Phone 04 499 4444
Email info@wcc.govt.nz