14 Aug Watch Out for Blind Spots
Properly adjusting your side and rearview mirrors is among the most effective ways to help prevent blind-spot collisions.
There are many reasons that vehicle collisions occur, among them is not checking your vehicle’s blind spots when changing lanes.
Blind spots are points on your vehicle that aren’t visible from either your rearview or side mirrors. There is no way to completely eliminate blind spots, but blind spots are typically increased when side mirrors are not adjusted properly. Making sure your mirrors are adjusted for maximum visibility requires just three simple steps:
- To adjust your rearview mirror, check to see that the entire rear window of your vehicle is visible. When properly positioned, you should be able to get a full view of the rear window without having to move your head.
- To adjust your driver’s side mirror, place your head against the driver’s window and then position the mirror until you can barely see the side of the vehicle. Like the rearview window, this should give you optimum visibility without having to move your head.
- To adjust the passenger’s side mirror, position your head over the center console, and follow the same instructions as adjusting the driver’s mirror, except on the passenger’s side.
Changing Lanes Safely
While properly positioned mirrors greatly reduce blind spots and increase awareness of any driver’s surroundings, mirrors should not be relied on entirely when changing lanes. You will never have full visibility of your surroundings with mirrors alone, so to ensure safe lane changes, keep the following in mind: (or watch this three part series on mirror safety from DriverCare: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)
- Always use your turn signals. Turn signals help communicate to surrounding cars that you’re intending to change lanes, so they can keep out of your blind spot and avoid changing lanes at the same time.
- Scan over your shoulder. A quick scan of the lane that you’re planning to turn into can help ensure that there are no cars in your blind spot.
- Check the lanes on the opposite side of your changing lane. This will help to make sure that no other cars are making a turn into the same lane, helping you avoid a collision.
Make it a habit to regularly check your mirrors about every five to seven seconds. This can improve driving safety and keep you aware of your surrounding environment. In heavy traffic, you may need to check your surroundings more often to account for more vehicles on the road. Drivers should also be on the lookout for motorcyclists, because they’re smaller, stay in blind spots, and it is harder to determine the speed of a smaller object, like a motorcycle.
Blind Spot Technology
As vehicle safety technology has developed, more cars are equipped with tools to mitigate problems caused by blind spots. For example, rearview cameras have become common on many modern cars and, according to a 2016 report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), have prevented one-sixth of police-reported backing crashes. The IIHS found that vehicles with rearview cameras reduced backing blind spots by up to 90% compared to vehicles without cameras. This doesn’t mean that rearview cameras eliminate blind spots completely, however, and drivers should still take suitable safety precautions to ensure no other vehicles or people are in the way.
Many vehicles are even equipped with blind spot cameras and sensors. These activate any time the vehicle’s driver attempts to switch lanes, alerting the driver if any vehicles occupy the blind spot. Notifications can be anything from visual cues via a camera, audible warnings, or even a tactile response such as vibrating the driver’s steering wheel.
Despite developing technology, the most important factor in preventing a car crash is the driver. Only the person behind the wheel has the power to make the roads around them safer.