Catch Sight of Your Blind Spots
Keeping your blind spots in view is important to stay safe on the road. Take a look at how many blind spots your vehicle really has, and how to keep them in check.
We’ve all done it before — switched lanes or made a turn without checking our blind spot. It seems harmless when you’re lucky enough to get away scot-free, but what about when you don’t?
Checking your blind spots is an integral part of safe driving. According to the Ministry of Transportation you should be checking all your mirrors every five seconds.
But, keep in mind that your mirrors don’t show you everything you need to observe. In fact, there are huge areas around your car that you can’t see by looking through your windshield or by peering through your mirrors.
Where are your blind spots?
Your blind spots are on either side of your vehicle, but they also take up a significant around your car, extending all the way to the rear.
What’s more, depending on the size or shape of your vehicle, there may be smaller blind spots you haven’t checked even when you think you have.
In some cases, a vehicle blind spot is so big that there could be an entire car in it and the driver wouldn’t see.
Identifying your blind spots
If you want to identify the exact scope of your blind spots, you’ll need to get to know your car a little better. Follow these steps to make sure you’re familiar with each and every blind spot in your vehicle:
- Sit in your parked car.
- Have a friend walk around the perimeter of your car slowly.
- When they can no longer see you in their peripheral vision or mirrors, mark that spot on the ground.
- After you’ve marked your place, keep walking slowly until they can see you again. Mark this spot down.
- You’ve now got the scope of a blind spot on one side.
- Continue the process around the perimeter of your car to identify all possible blind spots.
If you want to see an example of how exactly to do this, take a look at this video on understanding and identifying your blind spots.
How do you check your blind spots?
A quick “shoulder check” left and right out your windows will do the trick. There’s no need to turn your whole body; simply turning your head will give you visibility of those people, cars, or bicycle lurking in your blind spot.
When should you check your blind spots?
Here are a few critical moments when you absolutely need to check your blind spots:
- Check your mirrors: Take a look at your rear view mirror and your side mirrors.
- Do a shoulder check: Turn your head to make sure no car, cyclist, or person is in your blind spot before making your move.
- Changing lanes or merging: When you’ve gauged there’s enough space to switch lanes, flip on your left or right turn signal to alert drives that you plan on switching lanes.
- Check your blind spot one more time: It’s always a good idea to quickly sneak a glance again to ensure nothing’s changed
- Signal your intention to turn: You should signal well before taking the turn.
- Move into the proper line (see changing lanes instruction above): If you’re planning a right turn, you should move in the far right lane of the direction you’re moving in, or the far left lane for a left turn.
- Check your mirrors and blind spots and slow down: Once you’ve determined that it’s safe to make the turn, slow down, especially if it’s a sharp turn.
The same logic applies to right-hand turns. Remember; unless there are markings that say otherwise, a right turn should begin and end on the right side of the road.
Getting caught making a bad turn can cost you two demerit points and a fine.
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See it, say it
A recent study has proved that simply checking your blind spot isn’t always enough. “Looked, but failed to see” collisions are the cause of tens of thousands of death each year. Peter Chapman, an expert in driving psychology, says that these types of collisions often occur not because drivers aren’t paying attention, but because of our limited peripheral vision.
It was found that even though drivers will see a motorcyclist, for example, they’ll almost immediately forget that they’re there. It was also discovered that drivers are “more likely to forget a motorcyclist the longer they spent looking at other things after seeing them, suggesting that our visual short-term memory is limited.”
The solution? If you see a bike, say “bike.” Chapman says that saying it out loud will help store the information into your verbal short-term memory, which will help you remember it seconds later.
Avoid other drivers’ blind spots
Checking your blind spots is one thing, but drivers also need to make a conscious effort to stay out of the blind spots of others.
While you’d hope everyone checks their blind spots, it’s important to drive defensively and have your guards up just in case someone else doesn’t.
If you can avoid it, stay out of others’ blind spots by giving them their space, pulling back, or driving ahead. You should give as much space as possible to larger vehicles like buses and trucks whose blind spots are significantly larger.
With some attentiveness and a commitment to the shoulder check, you can keep your blind spots in view.