How to Conquer Blind Spots

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NSTSA), about 40 percent of a vehicle’s outer perimeter is obscured by blind spots, those zones that you can't see either directly or with the use of side and rear view mirrors. 

With cars, bicycles and motorcycles all sharing the road, not to mention highway driving, blind spots are a significant hazard.  

The most common type are "rear quarter blind spots," which involve the area toward the back of the car on both sides and are often the cause of lane-changing accidents. There are a few ways to remedy this situation, including looking over your shoulder (which forces you to take your eyes off the road) or by adding blind spot mirrors.

Another way (which costs nothing) is to adjust your mirrors using the Blind Spot and Glare Elimination (BGE) method. Developed by automotive engineer George Platzer in 1996, this technique reduces the two large blind spots to four, mini blind zones, none of which are large enough to obscure an entire car. It's just a matter of adjusting the side mirrors outward into the blind zone instead of focusing on the side of the car.  

For details, check out the Blindzone Glare Elimination Mirror Method, from the NHTSA.  

Have you ever been at a stop sign, and a cyclist or pedestrian appears, seemingly out of nowhere? The "A-pillar blind spot" is probably the culprit. Pillars are the parts of the car that connect the roof to the body, and the A-pillars are on either side of the windshield. Ironically, they've grown wider in recent years, since they now contain air bags for added crash protection. To compensate, it's a matter of taking the time to scan the intersection thoroughly by moving your head forward, backward, left, and right.  

There is also a blind spot directly behind your car when you reverse, making it difficult to see a small child, for example. Some vehicles come equipped with backup cameras, which greatly diminish or completely eliminate this blind spot, or reverse alarms, which beep when you're too close to something behind your car. Otherwise, drivers can be more attentive while backing up and check behind the car before getting in.  

If you're in the market for a new car, consider buying one with a "collision avoidance system." A 2017 study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows they significantly reduce accidents caused by blind spots and lane departures. These systems work by providing a warning to a driver if an impending collision is detected. If the collision is imminent, the system takes action without any input by the driver, by braking or steering or both.

Did you know that you can see the entire issue of Consumer Report's annual auto issue online with your Denver Public Library card? The issue comes out every April, and it helps you decide which car is right for you. It has reliability and fuel economy ratings, best and worst used and new cars, and safety information.

Questions? Ask Reference Services or call 720-865-1363 today! 

Written by Lisa on November 15, 2018