What if there were a way to glance in a vehicle's mirror and see not just one angle of a view, but an entire sweeping arc of a view?
There already is - but not in the United States.
While the U.S. market holds tight to its standard flat-glass mirrors, Europe and Japan have adopted 'aspheric' mirrors boasting 200 percent more view.
The mirrors use flat glass in the center two-thirds of the surface.
The outer third of the surface is significantly curved, allowing a driver to take in a panorama that includes the usual corner blind spots.
Blind spots are a critical safety issue. Studies show that lane changes and merging traffic account for 16 percent of all major collisions in the United States.
Aspherics, introduced in Sweden more than a decade ago, result in some distortion of distant objects, similar to a fish-eye camera lens.
The convex design has virtually replaced flat external mirrors in most of the world, thanks in part to U.S. suppliers who produce the mirrors.
But so far, U.S. regulators want none of it.
Last year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration briefly considered the aspheric argument, hearing the findings of a Dutch research group that had polled European consumers on the benefits of aspherics.
NHTSA apparently was underwhelmed and failed to approve the mirror for the U.S. market.