This is the kind of thing that makes sensible people tear their hair about government. Thinking about bureaucrats in DOT taking three years to make a decision worth maybe half a day, having spent a couple of decades to even engage the question, through all of which millions of drivers outside the US have been running an enormous demonstration program showing the superiority of convex driver’s-side mirrors, can make a libertarian’s day. It reminds me of the years during which the US had the worst headlights in the world because standardized sealed-beam lamps had been ossified in regulation forty years before (when, admittedly, they were the solution to a real problem). [Fairness requires that I give a hat tip to a regulatory success, the relatively quick implementation of the third brake light, which IIRC had a benefit-cost ratio in the thousands.]
There’s more to the convex mirror than the Times story records. Not only is the field of view wide enough to cover the left-hand blind spot, but a convex mirror doesn’t have to be dimmed to prevent cars behind you from blinding you at night. Now, if we could get them in the right place, which is on the fender, visible through the dashboard so you don’t have to take your eyes off the road to be aware of what’s going on behind you, we’ll be making some real progress. For this location, they have to be convex, because at that distance, the field of view of a flat mirror is much too narrow. I’ve had convex fender mirrors (very hard to find, and it’s a nuisance to make a flat panel to replace the stock abortions on the doors) for twenty years and would never go back. I suppose I’m courting a ticket, but so far, no problems. Oh yeah, a convex clipon interior rearview mirror is another no-brainer; you can see more and you don’t have to flip it back and forth between night and day settings.
Finally, convex mirrors are much more tolerant of drivers’ head position; drivers of any legal size can use the same setting for fender-mounted and interior convex mirrors, so once you get them located, they are much less likely to surprise you by showing you the wrong scenery after someone else has been using the car.