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Best Ways to Check Your Blind Spot
We’ve all been through this scenario: Driving along a multi-lane road and aiming to change lanes or merge, only to find there’s another vehicle there – one not seen in either the interior rear-view mirror or the exterior side mirror.
In your blind spot.
What’s a blind spot?
Blind spots are areas usually behind and to the sides of your vehicle that are not covered by your rear-view mirrors. They can be large enough for you to miss seeing something the size of a lorry, creating a dangerous situation for everybody when it comes to lane changing, merging, or pulling into a curb.
Adjust the mirrors
Properly adjusting the mirrors will not eliminate blind spots but, doing so will minimize the size of the blind spots.
The interior mirror should be adjusted so that from your normal driving position you are looking through the centre of the rear window. This affords the best view of what is happening immediately behind your vehicle and of vehicles approaching from the rear on either side.
Your exterior mirrors should be adjusted so you can just see the side of your car in the mirror. If you see too much of your own vehicle you will create a larger blind spot on the outside of your angle of view. If you cannot see the side of the vehicle, there’s a chance you have created an extra blind spot right next to your vehicle.
TIP: Imagine someone standing right next to your rear wheel. You should be able to see them in the exterior mirrors.
Blind spots and car drivers
Your side mirrors give you a view of a triangular slice of road behind and to the side of your car.
If another vehicle is travelling in an adjacent lane just outside that slice, you’re unlikely to see it. Worse, they’re probably travelling alongside the rear of your car, so if you were to change lanes, the chances of an accident are quite high.
There are several simple solutions to avoid this danger. The first, and most important, is the ‘head check’.
To do a head check, briefly turn your head and look across your shoulder to check the road is clear before changing lanes, merging, or pulling into the curb. Doing so gives you a different angle of view from the mirrors and reduces the chances of an accident.
If your mirrors are properly adjusted, you shouldn’t have to turn your head past shoulder level. Don’t turn your shoulders to do the head check, as doing so will affect your steering. And remember – do it quickly. Every moment spent doing a head check is a moment not spent looking where you are going.
Blind spots and motorcyclists
With only two rear-view mirrors, motorcyclists are at a disadvantage, but because riders can change position on the motorcycle, they can increase the angel of view from those mirrors.
Still, motorcyclists can be affected by blind spots. A quick head check before changing lanes, merging, or pulling into the curb is still advisable.
Setting the mirrors on a motorcycle can be tricky: Sit astride the bike with your hands on the bars in your usual riding position and adjust the mirrors to give yourself the broadest angle possible, while still showing the road behind you.
Motorcycle mirrors vary from acceptable in design to downright hopeless – altogether too many offer little more than a view of the rider’s elbows. Be prepared to move your arms or change position briefly in order to make them work for you.
Knowing where other drivers’ blind spots are and positioning yourself so you can be seen easily is a sensible defensive-driving tactic.
As a rule-of-thumb, if you can see the driver’s face in their mirrors, they can see you.
Simpler still, avoid positioning yourself beside another driver’s rear wheel – this is the usual blind spot. Positioning yourself alongside or ahead of the driver ensures you’re visible to them. Alternatively, dropping back so you’re behind the rear of their car not only gets you out of the blind spot, but also out of the danger zone if they do change lanes suddenly.
Applying a similar approach to trucks also makes sense from a defensive driving perspective. The best place to be when travelling alongside a truck is clearly ahead of it, or clearly behind its rear axles. If a truck driver needs to take evasive action as a reaction to a situation on the road in front of it – an area that may not be visible to you – being alongside is the worst place to be.
Articulated lorries frequently lock their rear wheels in emergency braking situations too, both decreasing the driver’s control and increasing the chance the trailer may end up crossing lanes. You really don’t want to be occupying that piece of road if that happens.
Tailgating is poor driving technique in the best of situations, but tailgating trucks increases the dangers: Driving directly behind a truck places you in the driver’s blind spot; it also reduces your view of what’s happening on the road in front of it; and it increases the chance that if you do pull out to overtake, your presence will come as a surprise to the driver.
Blind spots and technology
The simplest technology available to increase your angle of view from the outside mirrors is a convex mirror. Most new cars are fitted with convex exterior mirrors that expand the angle of view. Be aware that anything seen in a convex mirror will appear to be further away than it is.
While convex mirrors improve your chances of seeing another vehicle that would have been in a blind spot, performing a head check remains the safest course of action.
Some new cars are fitted with radar-based blind-spot sensing technologies that provide warnings for drivers that there are vehicles in the blind spots, most often with a warning light on the exterior mirror, and another form of warning if the driver activates the indicator.
While these are useful tools for a driver, performing a head check before changing lanes, merging, or pulling into a curb is still advisable.
Our car safety tips are a general guide to help you ride more confidently and safely on the road. But accidents can still happen through no fault of your own.
Although we can’t prevent you from getting hurt physically, Budget Direct Insurance can offer you peace of mind financially with our affordable car insurance plans.
Find out which car insurance plan is best for you. Go to budgetdirect.com.sg.