No one leaves their home expecting to get in a car accident. But in most accidents, you have an instant to recognize what’s happening and brace yourself. With collisions coming out of your blind spot, you have no such warning.
Blind spot collisions are more common than you might think: National Highway Safety Administration statistics report that over 800,000 blind spot accidents occur each year. While blind spot collisions are rarely fatal (approximately 300 fatalities resulted from those 800,000), any kind of accident can have damaging effects that last long after the collision itself.
Understanding Blind Spot Accidents
The vehicle blind spot, also known as a ‘No Zone’ around a large truck, is the area where a driver cannot safely observe what is happening around their vehicle with their eyes or mirrors. Blind spots generally occur when a vehicle is either directly, or almost, alongside you, as your rearview mirrors are designed to monitor vehicles behind you while your eyes focus on the vehicles in front of you. Blind spots can also be caused by the side mirrors themselves and the chassis columns surrounding doors and windows. The blind spot can also vary from driver to driver, based on their height or the type of vehicle they are driving.
Blind spot accidents generally occur when a vehicle is changing lanes, particularly when driving on high-speed highways, roundabouts, or intersections. Failure to check the blind spot when merging or changing lanes can lead to dangerous collisions, including rear-enders and broadsides.
How to Prevent Blind Spot Collisions
Proper Mirror Usage
Make sure your mirrors are properly adjusted so that you have the maximum amount of visibility around your vehicle. Finding the proper angles for your mirror can be crucial for avoiding any kind of accident, not just those coming out of the blind spot. Consider upgrading to convex mirrors – which grant a wider range of view around your car – or adding a small blind spot mirror to your current mirrors.
Use Your Eyes
Just because your mirrors are properly adjusted and you seem to be in the clear, nothing beats a quick look around before you merge or change lanes. Your eyes are your most effective weapon in recognizing and avoiding potential collisions, and you should make use of them (safely!) as a second method of verifying the lane is clear to enter.
Monitor and Avoid Blind Spots
Stay aware of the blind spots around your own vehicle, but also the blind spots of the vehicles around you. Driving outside the blind spots of other drivers can help prevent collisions before they ever have a chance to occur.
Obey traffic laws. Operate your vehicle at a safe and consistent rate of speed, as sudden changes in speed can be unexpected and lead you to enter someone’s blind spot without them noticing. Maintain a safe ‘bubble’ of distance between yourself and other drivers – this gives other drivers the ability to notice where you are. It also gives you time to react if another driver makes an error or suddenly and unexpectedly shifts lanes.
A lot of people like to listen to music, podcasts, or speak on the phone while they are driving. This can divide your attention from what is going on around you and leave you at risk of failing to notice someone entering your blind spot, or you entering someone else’s blind spot. Maintaining the proper focus on the road around you is crucial to avoiding accidents.
Take note of the cars around you: how they are behaving, what speed they are moving at, if they have their turn or brake lights on. Be aware if an unusual vehicle, such as a large truck, is driving near you, as trucks have a much larger blind spot than a typical car. Also, if you yourself are driving a larger vehicle, like a van or pickup truck, stay aware of smaller cars, which could disappear into your blind spot in ways that a larger vehicle would not.
What Happens After a Blind Spot Accident?
If you have been a victim of a driver failing to properly check their blind spot, there are several steps you should take. Most importantly, make sure that you receive proper medical attention. The forces involved in a collision can leave you with injuries that may not be immediately apparent; it is crucial that you begin your recovery from the accident as quickly as possible.