Hanging a face mask or other items from a vehicle’s rearview mirror is a safety hazard, AAA Texas warns.

With the mandate to wear masks in public across Texas, many people keep masks in their vehicles for convenience, and it’s common to see them hanging from rearview mirrors.

“However, a mask or any other object hanging from a mirror can partially block your field of vision, increasing the risk of a crash,” AAA Texas said in a statement.

According to the Texas Department of Transportation, impaired visibility contributed to 3,447 crashes on state roadways in 2019, with 51 of those crashes fatalities. Though the data does not list items hanging from rearview mirrors as a direct cause, it does show that impaired visibility can be a contributing factor in a crash, according to AAA.

“Having a clear field of vision is extremely important to your safety when on the road,” AAA Texas spokesman Daniel Armbruster said. “Items such as masks, air fresheners, parking placards or anything else that reduces your ability to see things around you is a safety hazard and could increase your risk for a crash.”

The eyes provide almost 90% of the information needed to respond to road conditions, traffic patterns, signs and signals. Spotting signs is largely a function of side vision. Obstructing this field of vision, even partially, can cause a driver to miss signs, pedestrians, wildlife, motorcycles, bikes or other vehicles.

In Texas, drivers involved in a crash due to impaired visibility can be cited under certain circumstances. Texas law leaves the decision of whether there’s been a violation up to the investigating officer or agency.