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FAQ, Trivia and Information on Life in America: Ask-A-Desi

This section will attempt to address some of the Frequently Asked Questions on Life in the US, Canada and North America that immigrants, visitors and others from different cultures attempt to address. If you have any additional inputs or wish  to see more topics addressed, mail us at

Foreign Visitors Driving in the U.S.: An International Driving Permit (IDP) serves as an official translation of the holder's driver's license into 10 foreign languages. The purpose of an IDP is to supplement, not replace, valid government issued licenses. It serves as a translation of a drivers license and assists with understanding, but does not provide driving priveleges by itself. We recommend, especially if your foreign license is not in English, that you contact the automobile association or driving authorities in your home country to get an international driving permit before traveling, as the United States does NOT issue international driver's permits to foreign visitors.

Driving in America: Convex Mirrors and Caution Message

Among the most basic and required skills in America is driving an automobile.

Does the phrase “OBJECTS IN MIRROR ARE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR” sound familiar to you?

You got it. It's printed on the side-view mirror of your car. Driver's side? Passenger's side? Both? I think You aren't quite sure; Right?

Well, only the convex mirror on passenger-side of your car has this message printed on it. Car manufacturers are required to provide flat, unit magnification mirrors on the driver's side of the car. Even the inside rear-view mirror also is flat and shows objects without distortion. Engineers have found out that the convex side-view mirror on passenger-side affords drivers a much clearer view of the passenger-side of the car. This is because of the advantage of convex mirrors - they allow a much wider angle of vision.

Message on Passenger-side Mirror

However, the immortal words "OBJECTS IN MIRROR ARE...." are mandated by Federal law on all convex mirrors.

The government has also set specific standards for the curvature of convex mirrors - the average radius of curvature not be less than 35" and no greater than 65".

The message is printed in upper case letters and it is a standard phrase across makes/models.


With all these side-view mirrors, rear-view mirrors, caution message apart, don’t forget to check above your shoulders before making a move to change lane, take a turn or exit the freeway. Let your driving be smart and safe.

Trivia : Did you know that almost all 50 states use prisoners to manufacture license plates that the state DMV issues to you?

Useful links:

  • Foreign Visitors Driving in the U.S.: Quick facts for foreign visitors about driving in America from FirstGov.
  • Consumer Alert from FTC: Ads for International Drivers' Licenses or Permits Could Be a Dead End
  • Renew Your Driver's License: Motor Vehicle Departments across the US
  • Driving in the US: Information on driving in the United States with a list of State Motor Vehicle Licensing Authorities.
  • MapQuest: Driving Directions
  • Weekend Getaway to Toronto for Desis from USA: Toronto, one of the worlds most beautiful and accessible cities, is welcoming and warm to international travelers and tourist. Its proximity to the US border also means that it is within driving distance from many major American (North/North Eastern) cities. Toronto is one of the best and easiest weekend holiday destination for North Americans and desis too.


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Trivia and Questions for Indians and Immigrants in America

General Trivia : Introduction //Dollars and Cents // Social Security Number // About Mail and USPS // Story of The Old Glory // Green Card– Why Not Green? // Telephone Area Codes // Convex Mirrors and Caution // Bankruptcy and Chapter 11 // Radio and TV Broadcasting // Consumerism: Trivia on Wal-Mart. // Retail Trivia // Gas Prices– What's 0.9 Cent? // Roads and Interstate Highways // Road Driving Trivia // Finance 101 // Daylight Saving Time // Trivia on Etiquette

FAQ Disclaimer: All information provided in these FAQ’s is deemed to be accurate by the author.  Due care has been exercised to ensure the veracity of this information and guidelines. However, there may be error (s) and omission (s) and all information is subject to change., and its affiliates do not assume any liability for the information provided herein. The reader is strongly recommended to confirm this information from official sources.

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