When there is an area on the road you can't see either in your rearview or side mirrors, this is referred to as a blind spot. If you've ever had to turn your head so you can see what's near your vehicle, then you've encountered one. Not only are these tricky to navigate, but they're downright dangerous for drivers.
Almost 40% of your vehicle is considered a blind spot. Not only does it create an unsafe driving condition for you, but drivers near you also have blind spots, which means they could be struggling to see your vehicle easily too.
What to Know About Blind Spots
One of the first steps in vehicle safety is to check the blind spots in your own vehicle. You can get a feel for the blind spots by observing another vehicle passing your own vehicle. As you're looking in the rearview mirror, take note of how long it takes for the vehicle to show in your side mirror. This is your blind spot.
Drivers may mistakenly assume a quick glance is all they need to know another vehicle or object isn't in their blind spot. But it's not so simple, is it? We've all had near misses when we thought the lane next to us was clear, only to narrowly avoid a side-swipe because we couldn't see another vehicle right next to us. Sometimes we can react quickly and avoid an accident, but other times, we aren't so fortunate.
How to Change Lanes Safely With Your Blind Spot
When changing lanes, you need to first use your turn signal so you can quickly alert other drivers you need to change lanes. Then, check your rearview mirror and side-view mirror, keeping in mind you still may not see the vehicle right next to you. You'll need to check over your shoulder one last time. If you don't see any vehicles next to you or approaching you too quickly, and your signal is on, then it should be safe to change lanes.
A quick check over your shoulder is good practice, even if your vehicle is equipped with the blind-spot monitoring systems found in newer vehicles. While these systems are super helpful in alerting you if another driver is in the blind spot, they are not 100% foolproof. Checking over your shoulder is still a smart practice.
Tips for Reducing Blind Spots
Keep these tips in mind to decrease the chance of a blind spot causing a dangerous situation while changing lanes.
Adjust your mirrors so they reflect as much of your vehicle as possible.
Do not rely only on your mirrors. Look out the window and check for other vehicles yourself.
Use your turn signal every time you need to make a turn. Use it early enough to alert other drivers around you.
Be sure to move past a vehicle once you need to pass if at all possible. Driving next to a vehicle means you could be in the other driver's blind spot.
Keep any objects out of your field of vision, and make sure your view from inside the vehicle is completely unobstructed.
Be familiar with the unavoidable blind spots for your vehicle.
Another strategy for making yourself safer behind the wheel — even if your vehicle does have blind spots — is to enroll in a defensive driving course. If you can't take a course in person, check out our online options. Staying safe on the roads is better for everyone.