Blind Spots and Car Driving Safety
The blind spot is that area around your vehicle that you cannot directly observe while at the driver’s seat. Not visible with your peripheral vision, neither in the inside and side mirrors… it’s called the blind spot because you’re literally blind to its existence.
Having a blind area around your vehicle can easily cause an accident. There maybe be a vehicle moving on your side, but you are not able to see it: everything looks nice, you’re prepared to switch lanes, and then…
The sad truth is, having blind areas around your vehicle is inevitable while driving.
A driver can try to adjust his rearview center mirror, and the side view mirrors, in a way such as to minimize the occurrence of the blind zones. It’s interesting to note that, for generations, drivers have been setting their side view mirrors incorrectly; there’s no need to adjust the side view mirror so you can see the back corner of your car: it never moves – so why keep an eye on it?
You can indeed somewhat reduce your blind zone by carefully setting the mirrors so that the side of your car is barely visible. Using a method of adjusting the side mirrors devised by George Platzer, it is possible to eliminate the blind area on the side of a vehicle. That can greatly reduce the probability of side swipes and similar accidents that frequently occur when changing lanes.
However, your remaining blind area is still large enough to be completely capable of hiding an entire vehicle!
You can see a car coming up behind you in your mirror, you can see it next to your car through your window as he passes… but for a few seconds between those two, it was invisible!
Some cars have bigger blind areas than others, but they all have them.
Larger vehicles, such as increasingly popular SUVs, pickups, and minivans, have larger blind zones than a passenger car. It also looks like the A-pillars in the newest cars, which are designed to be steeper in order to improve security, could lead to huge blind zones, potentially obscuring cars and people.
As a matter of fact, the blind area around an average automobile is about the size of a large swimming pool. Another chilling fact is that in a time it takes you to turn your head in order to check your blind area, your vehicle has already traveled more than half of a football field! And it only gets worse with today’s drivers which attention is always dissipated: checking the blind areas is one of the first activities to suffer when the driver is distracted.
Did you know that the area immediately behind your vehicle has been nicknamed a “killing zone”? It’s a source of backup collisions, particularly involving pedestrians and objects directly aft of a vehicle. There is no method of adjusting your mirrors that can help with rearward visibility.
Some vehicles now come equipped with parking sensors, sonars, or backup cameras that can help you identify objects behind you not visible in the rear view mirror. However, don’t rely on those gadgets only, but remember to always take a look behind your vehicle yourself.
When you’re in another driver’s blind zone, he just can’t see you. You can’t be certain that the other driver will check over his shoulders when he needs to change lanes either. The rule of thumb is that if you can’t see a driver in his rear view mirror – he can’t see you at all! If you think you may be in another driver’s blind spot, try not to linger in that area.
In the EU, as of recently, trucks are required by law to have blind spot mirrors installed.
Because blind areas were a major factor in many accidents involving trucks (especially when the truck is turning right), it was essential to find a way to give the drivers a wider field of vision than the conventional mirrors can give them. Blind spot mirrors appeared to be a solution they were looking for. All new trucks in the EU come fitted with blind spot mirrors, and the old ones were retrofitted.
Having a blind spot mirror is not a substitute for looking over your shoulders, but a welcome addition to your driving safety. Of course, for the blind spot mirror to work as intended, you should take some time to properly adjust it, and become accustomed to actually using it. It goes without saying that you should always use your vehicle turn signal and perform a shoulder check in advance of changing lanes!
Still confused as to what blind spots really are?
The best thing to do is book a driving lesson with us and we will demonstrate it for you.