Understanding blindspots and their hazards

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Few years ago, I was struck by a 53 feet long truck while I was driving on a highway. The reason of the collision with the massive truck was that I was in the truck’s blind spot and the driver of the truck missed my car. Fortunately though, I was saved otherwise it could have been a disaster.

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What’s a blind spot?

A blind spot in a vehicle is an area around the vehicle that cannot be directly observed by the driver while at the controls, under existing circumstances. Blind spots exist in a wide range of vehicles: cars, trucks, motorboats and aircraft. Blind spots may occur in the front of the driver when the A-pillar/also called the windshield pillar, side-view mirror, and interior rear-view mirror block a driver’s view of the road. Behind the driver, there are additional pillars, headrests, passengers, and cargo, that may reduce visibility. Let’s do a small experiment.

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Close your left eye and stare at the cross mark in the image above with your right eye. Off to the right you should be able to see the spot. Don’t LOOK at it; just notice that it is there off to the right (if its not, move farther away from the computer screen; you should be able to see the dot if you’re a couple of feet away). Now slowly move toward the computer screen. Keep looking at the cross mark while you move. At a particular distance (probably a foot or so), the spot will disappear (it will reappear again if you move even closer).

Blind spots are the areas that cannot be seen in a drivers forward vision or rear and side-view mirrors. It is not illegal to drive in other vehicles blind spots – in fact, if you’re driving in heavy traffic there’s often no way to avoid it. But, driving in someone else’s blind spot (or someone else driving in yours) creates an unsafe situation. Countless numbers of accidents occur as a result of what are commonly known “blind spots” – areas of the road that the driver of a vehicle is unable to see.

Almost all trucks and cars have blind spots behind the front doors of the vehicle but the size of the blind spot can vary based on the vehicle’s make and model. Additionally, the height of the seat and the position that the driver is sitting in can affect the severity of the blind spot.  Due to advancement in active safety features like lane departure, and more precisely the blind spot monitoring system, the risk of blind spot accident is reduced. But there are some very simple rules which can be adopted to eliminate or reduce the blind spot issues without even having high end monitoring system.

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Again even the monitoring system will just guide or alert the driver, in the end its driver discretion to act on those alerts.  Always check your blind spot before changing lanes. Also, try to stay aware of the vehicles around you and try to keep a mental image of where vehicles are in your blind spots. If a road hazard suddenly appears and you only have a spit-second to decide what to do, it helps to know exactly where the traffic around you is. By following just simple steps below for adjusting the side and rear view mirror can reduce or eliminate the blind spots.

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  1. The first step is to adjust the rear-view mirror to do exactly that – give you a view directly to the rear. Position it so that it best covers your view straight out the rear window. Don’t bother tilting it to one side or the other to assist with your view of traffic to either side of your car. That’s what the side mirrors are for.
  2. Next, lean your head until it almost touches the driver’s side window. Then, adjust your right side mirrors so that you can just barely see the side of your car, and no more than that.
  3. Lean your head to the left towards the middle of the car and adjust the left side mirror so that you can just barely see the left side of your car. You should NOT be able to see the side of your car when your head is perfectly upright.
  4. Check for blind spots by doing the following: While driving along a road in the left lane, note a vehicle in the right lane coming up to pass you from behind. Without moving your head, glance in the rear-view mirror and follow it as it approaches your car in the right lane. Just before it disappears from your view in the rear-view mirror, glance to the right side mirror. There it is. Now follow that vehicle in the side mirror as it begins to pass you. Then, just before it disappears from the side mirror, you should see it with your peripheral vision. Notice that without even turning your head, you never had a blind-spot. Then try it with the left side mirror. Watch as you pass a vehicle travelling in the left lane go from your peripheral vision, to your left side mirror, to your rear-view mirror. Again, no blind-spot. If there is a blind spot for even a fraction of a second, your side mirror adjustment needs some fine-tuning.
  5. we all tend to adjust our side view mirrors in a manner that we see the rear/trunk of the car. The fact is doing so increase the blind spot region.

This procedure should be done every time you get into a car in which you have not adjusted the mirrors. It only takes seconds, and can make a big difference. As a side benefit, with the side mirrors tilted out farther, you will no longer have to worry about the bright lights of a vehicle behind you glaring in your eyes.It may take a little while to feel comfortable with not being able to see the side of your own car in the side mirrors.  Also, it may take a little time to stop relying on the side mirrors for looking to the rear. But once you get used to it, you’ll love it. You shall feel much more confident and comfortable in traffic.

Remember always try to avoid driving in other peoples blind spots. You never know if other drivers are paying attention, so it’s your responsibility to avoid dangerous situations by driving defensively. If you are in another vehicle’s blind spot, don’t assume that the driver knows you are there. If you are driving on a multi-lane highway and realize that you are keeping pace with another vehicle in the driver’s blind spot, then adjust your speed to get out of their blind spot.

Fazal Wahab

I am Civil Engineer by Profession and have love for High Rise Towers and Underground construction. But Automobiles is my first love. Its my passion to know and share about anything new in automobile industry.

  • arif

    @Munawar Khan
    Yes…
    Having a flat rear mirror and over that you
    ELFY a convex mirror for wider view and this way you watch both views
    real and wide enough in one go 🙂

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