Statistics show blind spots are the cause of many automobile accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are more than 840,000 blind-spot-related accidents every year; about 300 result in fatalities.
All vehicles have blind spots. Many accidents caused by blind spots occur when a vehicle is changing lanes because the blind spot makes it difficult for a driver to see if there is a vehicle next to them or coming up quickly in the next lane. While blind spot vehicle accidents can be serious and deadly, they are almost entirely preventable.
What is a Blind Spot?
The blind spot is essentially the area around the vehicle that cannot be seen while looking forward, in rear view mirrors or side mirrors. The blind spot is often located over the right or left shoulder of a driver, often times caused by the pillar that holds together the windows and doors of the car. Reduced visibility may also be caused by the vehicle headrest, door frame, passengers, or cargo. Drivers of certain vehicles, such as motorcycles, have modified visibility due to their own physical limitations of how much they can turn their heads. Blind spots can easily hide a pedestrian, cyclist or another vehicle. By the time a driver realizes s/he cannot safely change lanes, it may be too late.
Eliminating Blind Spots
While some vehicle manufacturers have begun to add technology that can notify drivers if they are veering to the left or right side and a vehicle is nearby, drivers don’t need to buy a new car to avoid a blind spot accident. There are several ways a driver can minimize the risk of causing a blind spot auto accident.
Adjust Side and Rear-View Mirrors. Most often drivers adjust mirrors to see the edge of their vehicle which can prevent them from seeing to the side of the car where a blind spot lays. Adjust rear-view mirror so the rear window is framed.
- Adjust the left side mirror by sitting in the driver seat and putting your head against the window, then set the left mirror so that only a part of the vehicles left side is visible.
- Adjust the right side mirror by sitting in the driver seat and leaning to the center of your vehicle, then set the right mirror so that only a part of the vehicles right side is visible.
Below is an image from Car and Driver demonstrating how to adjust mirrors for the best possible visibility.
Physically Looking Over Shoulder. Even when mirrors are properly adjusted, drivers cannot rely on them alone to check blind spots, especially when changing lanes. It is crucial that shoulder checks be done quickly as it could cause a rear-end collision if there is not enough room between your car and the one in front of you.
New technologies. Passive blind spot warning systems involve a mirror. A convex mirror/blind spot mirror is a small and round circular mirror placed in the corner of your current external mirror to help you see into areas where normal mirrors cannot. Active blind spot monitoring uses some kind of detection system mounted to the vehicle. This is usually a series of sensors, radars, and/or cameras that emit electromagnetic waves to detect the presence of other objects near a car’s blind spot. The system alerts the driver by flashing a light on either a rearview mirror or on a side mirror. Backup cameras are activated automatically when a car is put in reverse, showing the area immediately behind the vehicle on a screen. These cameras help drivers, especially of SUVs, pick-ups, and minivans when blind spots obscure children and obstacles.
Though blind spots are a common cause of motor vehicle accidents, these types of accidents can be avoided if proper precautions are taken. Motorists should also be aware of another vehicle’s blind spot as well, especially on multi-lane roads where blind spot accidents are more likely to occur. A good rule of thumb is to keep an eye out for the other vehicle’s mirrors. If you cannot see the mirrors, it is likely the driver cannot see you.
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series—Mark Bello is also the CEO of Lawsuit Financial and the country’s leading expert in providing non-recourse lawsuit funding to plaintiffs involved in pending litigation. He is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.