Five Ways to Avoid a Blind Spot Accident
According to the latest edition of the NHTSA’s Traffic Safety Facts, obscured vision contributed to 2.8% of all fatal accidents in the United States in 2020, representing about 1,533 incidents.
Blind spot accidents occur when one or multiple drivers experience obscured vision. Knowing how to recognize blind spots and the methods to avoid blind spot accidents is critical for your safety and others on the road.
What Are Blind Spots?
Most trucks and passenger vehicles are equipped with mirrors that allow the driver to see spaces on the vehicle’s sides and rear. However, these mirrors don’t offer a full field of view, leaving angles where it is impossible to detect whether an object, a pedestrian, or another vehicle is approaching or moving alongside the vehicle. These angles are called blind spots.
Typical blind spots include:
- Directly behind the car where the rearview mirror cannot reflect
- Rear corners of the vehicle
- Along the sides of the vehicle, near the doors and B-pillars
- Areas directly in front of larger vehicles, such as SUVs and trucks
While blind spots exist in all motor vehicles, the vehicle’s size correlates with the size and length of its blind spots. For instance, the FMCSA’s safety infographics show that semi-trucks and buses have additional blind spots in the front and rear, and their side blind spots are much larger, capable of obscuring one or multiple car lengths.
5 Tips for Preventing Blind Spot Accidents
The best way to avoid being involved in a blind spot accident is to check your blind spots regularly, particularly before changing lanes, passing another vehicle, or turning at an intersection. The following tips can help you prevent a blind-spot accident and stay safe on the road:
Always ensure you are driving in the correct posture before adjusting your car’s side or rearview mirror. An incorrect or awkward posture can make it more challenging to use your mirrors and check your blind spots. Good posture improves your sight lines and lets you see comfortably from every angle, including your mirrors.
Use the seat, steering wheel, and, if available, pedal adjustment controls to put you in the optimal position to detect objects in your blind spots. The ideal driving posture is:
- Head and back straight with no slouching
- Both knees and arms slightly bent
- Top of the steering wheel just under shoulder height
Driving with incorrectly adjusted or misaligned mirrors presents a significant safety risk, because they extend the size of your blind spots. Before getting on the road, know where your blind spots are and check your mirrors. Ensure they are correctly aligned by checking that:
- The rear-view mirror displays the entire rear window
- The side mirrors are facing outward so that you can see as much of the adjacent lanes as possible
Check your blind spots by looking over your shoulder while driving. If you can still see areas that are not visible in the mirrors, adjust the side mirrors accordingly until those areas are visible.
To prevent accidents caused by blind spots while switching lanes, give plenty of warning to other drivers. Signal your intent to change lanes several seconds in advance, and check your blind spots before making any sudden movements.
Before switching lanes, look over your shoulder to ensure that the lane you’re moving into is clear of any vehicles, bikes, or pedestrians. Be aware of other drivers in your blind spots, especially when merging or changing lanes on the highway.
While correctly adjusted mirrors should give you the best possible visibility, another good way to check your blind spots is to look at them directly. Before turning, especially at intersections or roundabouts, look over your shoulder to check for any obstructions.
Remember to keep your steering wheel straight while looking to avoid veering out of your lane. Because checking behind you will take your eyes off the road, keep it brief; less than two seconds is enough.
All vehicles manufactured in 2018 or after must be equipped with rearview blind-spot monitoring systems or cameras. These systems can warn you of approaching cars without taking your eyes off the road. If you own an older vehicle without this technology, you can purchase and install an aftermarket blind spot monitor.
Call an Experienced Car Accident Attorney Today
A blind spot accident can cause severe injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries or neck and back damage. If you were involved in a car accident, contact Cofman Townsley’s team of skilled auto accident attorneys as soon as possible. We have been successfully representing car accident victims in Missouri since 1973.