- Drive Safe-Tips/Guides-Safety
Every time you get behind the wheel, from the minute you start your car, you’re almost expected to have eyes at the back of your head. The mere fact a that a vehicle is moving puts it and everything around it in the midst of a potential hazard. Couple that with many other moving vehicles driving at different speeds and coming and going in various directions, the hazard becomes tenfold.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the US, approximately 840,000 accidents caused by blind spots were reported each year of which around 300 were fatal.
Types of Blind Spots
As you’re driving and looking at the road ahead, there are specific areas of the road around your car that are invisible to you. Blind spots are those areas that you cannot see even when looking into any of your rear view mirrors. The danger is that these zones can be large enough to block other road users from view.
- Left and right rear blind spots – Most cars have two main blind spots, one on each rear side of the vehicle.
- A-pillar blind spots – Pillars are located around the glass of your car’s windows. The A-pillar is the section on the sides of the windscreen and joins up with the roof. While these are smaller and less hazardous than the rear blind spots, they shouldn’t be totally ignored, especially at busy intersections.
Causes of Blind Spot Accidents & Tips to Avoid
Blind spots are likely more problematic in larger vehicles, since the bigger the vehicle, the bigger the blind spot. Truck drivers in particular need to be extra careful – not only are their blind spots larger, they can also be further away and smaller vehicles can easily appear out of view.
The most common accidents caused by a driver not seeing another vehicle resulting in a collision:
Changing from one lane into another, especially on highways, is the most common cause of blind spot accidents. However, many an accident may also have compounded due to the lane-changing driver neglecting to indicate, or one or both of the drivers driving too fast.
How to safely switch lanes
Make sure you are fully aware of the traffic in the lane you’re switching into
- Drift while checking your blind spots, use both side and rear view mirrors.
- Smoothly change lanes.
When merging on a highway in heavy traffic, you have to be aware of traffic in front of you, behind you, and fast oncoming traffic in the lane you want to merge into. Be aware that a vehicle could be towing a trailer behind which will be in a blind spot.
How to merge safely:
- Gauge the speed of the highway traffic and adjust yours to match to avoid becoming an obstruction or create a dangerous situation.
- Indicate early, but remember, as the car that is merging, you don’t have right of way.</strong
- Pay attention to the other cars, check rear and side view mirrors, check cars in front of you.
- Check your blind spot: Glance behind over your shoulder into the lane you’re merging into.
Pedestrians, cyclists, and other motorists have right of way over a vehicle that is backing out of a driveway or parking spot.
Avoid an accident when reversing:
Be aware of your surroundings before getting into your car, especially in busy parking lots and where there are children, pets, or other animals around. Unless your vehicle comes with a backup camera installed, follow three simple steps:
- Check the back of your car is clear before getting into your car.
- Check blind spots using rear and side view mirrors.
- Reverse slowly all the while checking your mirrors.
At intersections where large objects such as trees, bushes, signs, and bus shelters, are too close to the road, your view is obstructed from approaching traffic.
Drive into the intersection extremely cautiously and keep checking for other vehicles, cyclists, joggers, and other road users.
Motorcyclists & cyclists
Just as a car can easily disappear from a truck driver’s rear view, so can motorbikes and bicycles disappear from a car’s rear view. Be especially cognisant of these smaller vehicles and follow all the blind spot guidelines above.
While you have to be mindful of your own blind spots, it is your responsibility as a motorist to avoid driving in other vehicles’ blind spots as well.
Blind spots are a fact of driving, but there are ways to minimise a potential blind spot accident. Whether you’re an experienced driver or a novice, there is one principle to remember: Approach and execute with caution. Which does almost require you to have eyes at the back of your head!
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