How to Eliminate Blind Spots When Driving

9/9/2021

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Nearly 840,000 blind spot accidents occur each year in the United States resulting in 300 fatalities, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The sad thing is that many of these types of accidents could have been avoided if people were more aware of their blind spots.

What is a blind spot?

A blind spot is any area immediately surrounding your vehicle that cannot directly be observed by you, the driver, within your normal field of vision. Your field of vision includes anything you can see directly in front of you as well as anything you can easily see in your peripheral vision or side and rear view mirrors.

Blind spots can occur when the A-pillar (also known as the windshield pillar), side-view mirrors or interior rear-view mirror block your view of the road. Cargo, headrests and additional pillars in the rear of the vehicle can also create blind spots. These blind spots hide any object positioned within them from the driver’s normal field of vision, including other cars, pedestrians, barriers and more.

What Is a Blind Spot in Driving?

To drive safely, you need to be aware of all the other vehicles that are sharing the road with you. You should not change lanes unless you know that there is enough space to do so safely. This means that you need to be certain of where all the other vehicles are in relation to your own.

The vehicles in front of you are easy to see. The vehicles directly behind you are visible in the rear view mirror. Vehicles that are passing you on either side are visible in the side mirrors.

The problem occurs when a car passes into an area where it is not visible in either the rear view mirror or the side mirror. As a driver, you may be unaware that there is a car in close proximity to your own because you are unable to see it in your mirrors.

When another vehicle passes into a blind spot, it is impossible to see it without turning your head from your natural driving position. This is why blind spots are the cause of so many accidents; drivers will change lanes believing the lane next to them is empty. Since the other vehicle is so close, a collision is hard to avoid.

Where Is the Largest Blind Spot on Your Vehicle?

The largest blind spot on your car is usually located on either side of your vehicle, near the back. However, other blind spots are also present and can put you in danger of an accident or collision.

For example, if you have various objects sitting near the back windshield of your car, these items can obstruct your view, resulting in a blind spot. If you are driving with passengers in the front and back seats of your car, they may inadvertently create blind spots as well.

How to Check for Blind Spots

To check for blind spots, you can sit in your car’s driver’s seat, buckle up, and have a friend or family member walk around your vehicle. Look at the side and rear mirrors as your friend or family member walks around your car. The moment you can no longer see this individual, that’s when he or she has entered a blind spot.

How to Properly Adjust Your Car’s Side and Rear Mirrors

You cannot eliminate blind spots, but you can adjust your car’s side and rear mirrors properly to limit their impact. Here are steps to help you set your car’s side and rear mirrors correctly:

1. Sit in the Driver’s Seat

Sit in the driver’s seat in the same way you would as if you were about to drive your car. Position the seat and steering wheel so you feel comfortable and have easy access to your car’s brake pedal, gas pedal, and gear shifter.

2. Set the Rear Mirror So You Can See Out Your Back Windshield

Position the rear mirror so you’re able to look out your back windshield without turning your head. This ensures you won’t need to suddenly turn your head or body around to see out your rear windshield while driving.

3. Adjust the Driver’s Side Mirror

Adjust the driver’s side mirror so you can see the road behind you, along with a small portion of the side of your car.

4. Adjust the Passenger’s Side Mirror

Adjust the passenger’s side mirror so you can see the road beside your car’s passenger side door.

5. Perform a Final Side and Rear Mirror Check

Double-check to ensure your side and rear mirrors make it simple for you to see the road behind and on both sides of your car.

Adjust your side and rear mirrors any time you let someone else drive your car, too. This allows you to reduce your risk of blind spot accidents and collisions.

Tips for Overcoming Blind Spots 

To recap, here are five tips to help you safely overcome blind spots while driving: 

  • Adjust all your mirrors to cover as much area as possible around your vehicle. 
  • Do not rely solely on mirrors. Always look out the side windows to check for cars with your own eyes. 
  • Do not linger when passing other vehicles. Avoid being in another driver’s blind spot. 
  • Use your turn signal early and often to alert other drivers that your intend to change lanes.  
  • Keep your field of vision clear. Do not place items in front of the window that could obstruct your view. 

Some newer cars are equipped with blind spot detection systems. These systems are designed to detect objects on either side of a vehicle and alert the driver when they are near an obstacle or another vehicle. While these systems can help drivers be more aware of their surroundings, it’s important to not rely too completely on these automated systems and still practice other methods for monitoring your blind spots and driving defensively.

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