Blind Spots & Driving: How to Drive Safely Despite What You Can’t See

Your eyes and mirrors don’t help you see everything going on around your vehicle. As a driver, you have multiple blind spots, and failing to check them when merging or making a lane change could lead to a collision. 

Did you know?

  • A full forty percent of your vehicle’s outer perimeter is covered in blind spots.
  • A blind spot can be large enough to hide an entire vehicle. 
  • There are an estimated 840,000 collisions resulting from blind spots every year in the United States (National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration)

What is a blind spot? 

Just like the name implies, a blind spot is an area surrounding your vehicle that you can’t see directly in your normal field of vision by looking straight out the windshield or out the side windows. It also includes anything you’re unable to see in your peripheral vision or using your side view mirrors or rear view mirror.  

Even though we often refer to it as a singular spot, the truth is there are multiple blind spots all around your vehicle. For most cars, blinds spots are along both sides of your vehicle, behind where you’ll be seated as the driver. You also have blind spots behind and in front of your car. 

How to avoid blind spots

Avoiding blind spots when you’re driving

For starters, know how to manually check your blind spot. 

Here are the steps: 

#1: Check all mirrors—side and rear view mirrors

#2: Perform a quick over-the-shoulder check: Turn your head to glance over your shoulder in the direction you’d like to maneuver your vehicle. 

#3: Once you confirm that there are no other vehicles in your blind spot, you can proceed. 

Don’t just look for vehicles in your blind spot. Pedestrians (including children) and cyclists can be in your blind spot, as well. 

Don’t just check your blind spot when changing lanes. There are a number of driving scenarios in which you’ll want to check your blind spot—not just when changing lanes. These include: 

  • When leaving a parking space or pulling out from a curb
  • Before you change langes, including when overtaking another vehicle
  • Before you merge with traffic
  • Before you reverse or back up anywhere, including out of a driveway
  • Prior to and while you complete a three-point turn or U-turn

Don’t rely only on driver assistance technologies. Blind spot monitoring systems give you an audio or visual warning if there are vehicles in adjacent lanes. These can be really helpful in alerting you to the presence of other vehicles, but they do have limitations. Because these systems aren’t designed to detect pedestrians or cyclists, it’s important not to put your full trust in these technologies. 

Avoiding being in other vehicles’ blind spots

Don’t drive in other vehicles’ blind spots. When driving in an adjacent lane to another vehicle, make sure you avoid disappearing into their blind spot. 

Instead, drive a little bit ahead of them, or drop back and allow ample distance so they can see you in their mirrors. Realize that the blind spots of commercial vehicles, like semi trucks and buses, are much larger than those in a regular vehicle. 

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