However, there is a surprisingly large area around our cars that we cannot see simply by looking ahead, or even at our mirrors. This is called the “blind spot,” and is sometimes forgotten by even experienced drivers.
Knowing where our “blind spot” is, and how to check it while behind the wheel, is an important element of road safety. Use the following guide to find your own blind spot, and to check it properly each time you get behind the wheel.
What is a Blind Spot?
A driver’s “blind spots” are exactly what the name implies – areas around the vehicle that a driver cannot observe when behind the wheel, either by looking straight ahead, at their rear-view mirror, or at their side-view mirrors. Essentially, a blind spot is an area of road that is outside the driver’s field of vision, and can’t be seen when looking out their windows or into their mirrors.
A blind spot can be large enough to hide an entire vehicle, which poses a significant safety risk to a driver and to those around them. That’s why it’s important to check your blind spots properly and consistently.
How Do I Find My Blind Spot?
Most vehicles’ main blind spots are located along each side of the car, slightly behind the driver, where he or she cannot see – to the back left, and to the back right of the car.
To check your blind spot, you can do a simple “shoulder check.” This includes looking left, and right, to look out of your side windows, just over your shoulder. Make sure to only turn your head, not your whole body, and to avoid turning the steering wheel in the direction of your shoulder check.
How Should I Adjust My Mirrors?
If they are properly adjusted, your side and rear-view mirrors can greatly reduce the amount of blind spots around your vehicle:
- Position your rear-view mirror so that the centre of the mirror reflects the centre of your rear window, making sure that you can see directly behind your vehicle.
- Adjust your left side-view mirror by leaning over towards the driver’s side window, and position your mirror so that you can just see the rear of your vehicle.
- To adjust your right side-view mirror, lean to the right, towards the centre of your vehicle, and position the mirror so that you can just see the rear of your vehicle once more.
- Once you’ve adjusted all of your mirrors, be sure that there is no overlap in what you can see in each of them.
Besides manually adjusting your car’s mirrors, you can also invest in a blind spot-eliminating mirror – these are equipped with a small convex mirror in the corner, giving the driver a better view of what’s in their blind spot.
When Should I Check My Blind Spot?
There are many driving scenarios in which it’s important to check your blind spot. Be sure to check your blind spot in the following circumstances:
- Before you leave your parking space
- Before you parallel park
- Before you pull out from the curb
- Before you change lanes, including when overtaking or passing another car
- Before you merge with traffic, especially when you are entering a fast lane
- Before you turn at an intersection
- Before you open your car door
- Before you back up
- Before (and during) a three point turn, or a U-turn
- When backing out of a driveway
- When reversing on the road
- Before turning – but only if another vehicle may have had the chance to move into your blind spot.
How Can I Avoid Other Cars’ Blind Spots?
What’s more, knowing where your blind spots are will help you stay out of other vehicles’ blind spots. When driving alongside another vehicle, be sure you avoid disappearing into their blind spot – drive ahead of them, or drop back behind them and allow enough distance between you so that the other driver can see you properly. Be a courteous driver – avoid lingering in another driver’s blind spot, especially around large and heavy vehicles, as their blind spots are much bigger.
For your safety and the safety of your passengers, and everyone around you, it’s important to be aware of where the blind spots are around your own vehicle, and to check them properly – and frequently.