While preparing to get your driver's license, you'll learn to navigate the tricky world of blind spots. Being aware of where your blind spot is, and knowing how to check for vehicles entering your blind spot, is crucial information.
Just how crucial? The National Law Review reports that 800,000 accidents a year— and about 300 fatalities — result from drivers not seeing vehicles in their blind spot. The following post gives you the information you need to avoid becoming a statistic yourself.
What Is a Blind Spot?
The "blind spot" is a triangular wedge of space on either side of your vehicle. It begins where your peripheral vision leaves off and extends backward like a wing on either side of the car.
You can't see vehicles already in this space just by checking your rear or side-view mirrors. In fact, poorly adjusted side mirrors can contribute to blind spots. So can chassis columns around doors and windows.
While it's important to check your mirrors often, remember that they will only reveal the vehicles approaching behind you. Once they enter the blind spot, just behind and alongside your vehicle, they become completely invisible.
Common Issues with Blind Spots
Most accidents from blind spots occur when a driver decides to change lanes, unaware that another vehicle is cruising in their blind spot. Multi-lane highways and intersections with more than one turning lane are the most common spots for trouble to happen.
If you change lanes without checking your blind spot first, the car approaching alongside you has no time to react. They can sideswipe or collide with your vehicle, especially in fast-moving or heavy traffic. Likewise, if you enter another vehicle's blind spot, you run the risk of sideswiping that vehicle should they suddenly decide to change lanes.
The precise area of a blind spot depends on several things, including how you angle your side mirrors and how good your peripheral vision is. Even the width of your car can change a blind spot's location.
When you drive an unfamiliar vehicle for the first time, you want to be especially careful to check for cars and pickup trucks entering your blind spot. The new car may have a slightly different blind spot from the one you are familiar with. Generally speaking, the larger the vehicle, the bigger the blind spot.
A Step-by-Step Guiding for Checking Your Blind Spot
Turn on your signal. The turn signal alerts drivers behind you of your intent to change lanes or merge into traffic. If other people on the road are being good defensive drivers, they will heed this warning and give you space.
Check your mirrors. The side and rearview mirrors show you vehicles on the road behind you. It's good to check these mirrors first so that you are aware of how fast vehicles may be approaching your blind spot.
Facing forward, turn your head at a 90-degree angle to the left. The 90-degree angle allows you to safely check the blind spot on the left-hand side of your vehicle. At the same time, this angle lets you use your peripheral vision to keep an eye on the road ahead. The trick is not to pivot your body or look over your shoulder. Those postures could cause you to lose control of your vehicle.
Still facing forward, turn your head at a 90-degree angle to the right. Some reckless highway drivers will use your intent to change lanes as an excuse to speed up and get around you in the right-hand lane. In order to be completely safe, you need to check the blind spot on your right-hand side as well.
If you feel nervous or unsure checking your blind spot manually, a blind spot monitoring system can give you added peace of mind by sounding an alert when vehicles enter your blind spot.