Blind Spots When Driving: What Are They & How to Check

by EzLicence Last updated

 

Blind spots pose a problem to all drivers. Failure to properly check blind spots is a large cause of accidents for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists.  Find out exactly how to check blind spots so that you never have to worry about bumps and accidents. 

What are Blind Spots?

Blind spots are the areas around your vehicle that you can’t see using your mirrors or by looking directly ahead. These invisible zones can be dangerous because they hide other vehicles, pedestrians, or obstacles from your view. 

Blind spots include the spaces between your forward vision and your exterior mirrors. They vary depending on the vehicle’s size and design. For example, larger vehicles like lorries have more extensive vehicle blind spots.

Several factors contribute to the creation of blind spots. Your vehicle’s shape, window pillars, and head restraints can all obscure your view. The bodywork of your vehicle can block certain angles in your mirrors, making it difficult to see what’s around you. This makes blind spots a problem when you’re changing lanes or making other driving manoeuvers.

It’s important to be aware of these blind spots for your safety and the others on the road. Regularly checking your mirrors and being conscious of your vehicle’s design can help you manage these invisible zones.

How to Check Blind Spots

Make sure your mirrors are properly adjusted. Sit in the driver’s seat and lean your head to the right. Adjust the right side mirror so you can barely see the side of your car. For the left side mirror adjust it similarly. Good mirror positions give you a broader view and reduce blind spots.

When your vehicle is set up to your preferences, you can check for blindspots in a few steps as according to the Highway Code.  

  1. Check your mirrors before every turn
  2. Use the indicator where appropriate
  3. Check your blindspots. This involves the mirrors and around the vehicle. 
  4. When the road is clear move ahead safely. 

Turning at junctions requires particular attention. Check around the A-pillar blind spots to ensure no pedestrians or cyclists are crossing.

What are the Different Types of Blind Spots?

When driving, you’ll encounter various blind spots that can obscure your vision and pose risks on the road. 

A-Pillar Blind Spot

One common blind spot is the A-pillar blind spot. The A-pillar is the pillar between the front windshield and the side window. These pillars are relatively small but can block important parts of the road at junctions. Modern cars with their thicker pillars for safety reasons, often make this issue worse.

Rear Blind Spot 

Vehicles like SUVs and vans with higher rear windows or solid rear doors have significant rear blind spots. This makes rear-view cameras or parking sensors highly valuable tools for making sure you don’t miss anything behind you. The C-pillars in cars can also obstruct the view while reversing. 

Side blind spots

Front wing mirrors are typically larger in trucks and vans. Advanced mirror setups or additional blind spot mirrors can be used for these blind spots. This allows you to see areas that would otherwise be hidden.

When Should You Check Your Blind Spots?

Accidents happen when you least expect them which is why you need to get into the habit of regularly checking your blind spots. There are a few areas where this becomes particularly important. We’ll share them with you so that you don't have to learn the hard way. 

Before Moving Off

You must always confirm that no hazards are lurking in your blind spots to guarantee moving away safely. This involves a thorough check to make sure you haven’t missed any vehicles, cyclists, or pedestrians in those unseen areas around your vehicle.

When you’re parked on the side of the road, traffic can approach from multiple directions, making this step particularly crucial. Start by looking over your shoulder to check for any obstacles or oncoming traffic. Next, glance at your wing mirror, followed by a quick look at your rearview mirror to see what’s directly behind you.

Check your right-wing mirror for any approaching vehicles or cyclists. Finally, look over your right shoulder to identify blind spots on that side. 

Changing Lanes

Start with the Mirror-Signal-Manoeuvre routine. Begin by checking your rearview and side mirrors to assess the traffic around you. Next, signal your intention to change lanes. This alerts other drivers and gives them time to react.

Before you move, perform a shoulder check by quickly glancing over your shoulder toward the lane you intend to enter. This helps you spot any vehicles that may be lingering in your blind spot, which your mirrors mightn’t reveal.

Merging onto Motorways

Start by conducting initial checks of your mirrors and blind spots even before you reach the slip road. This early assessment helps you gauge the traffic flow and plan your merging strategy.

As you approach the slip road, continue monitoring your mirrors and blind spots while adjusting your speed to match the motorway traffic. When you’re on the slip road, it’s important to maintain a constant awareness of surrounding vehicles. 

Continuously monitor your mirrors and perform shoulder checks to make sure no vehicles are in your blind spots. Speed matching is aligning your speed with the traffic on the motorway allowing for a smoother and safer merge.

Turning at Junctions

When you’re approaching a junction, it’s not just about looking left and right. You need to be aware of A-pillar blind spots, which can obscure your view of oncoming traffic, cyclists, and pedestrians.

Perform a visual scan by moving your head to see around the A-pillars, making sure no one is hidden behind these pillars. Don’t rely solely on your mirrors; they won’t always show everything. Look over your left shoulder to ensure there are no cyclists or pedestrians in your blind spot, especially those who might be crossing your path.

Parking and Reversing

Before you start reversing, make it a habit to check your rearview and side mirrors. Perform over-the-shoulder checks to confirm the area behind your vehicle is clear of any obstacles, pedestrians, or other vehicles. 

While parking sensors and rear-view cameras can be incredibly helpful, you shouldn’t rely solely on these technologies. They’re designed to assist, not replace, manual checks. Always combine these aids with traditional methods like mirror and shoulder checks for thorough safety.

Blind Spots in Different Types of Vehicles

Different types of vehicles have unique blind spots that drivers must be aware of to ensure safety on the road. In cars, the primary blind spots are located diagonally behind the vehicle, often obscured by the car’s bodywork or rear pillars. These main blind spots are important areas to check, especially when changing lanes or merging onto motorways.

Vans present different challenges. Many vans lack a rear window, meaning drivers rely solely on side mirrors, creating blind spots directly behind the vehicle. Even with a larger blind spot mirror, areas can still be missed. This is something to be aware of when driving next to larger vehicles. 

How Technology Can Help You

Blind Spot Monitoring systems (BSM) improve driver safety by detecting vehicles or objects in your blind spots. BSM systems use sensors and cameras positioned on your vehicle’s sides and rear to monitor these areas.

When something enters a blind spot, the system alerts you through visual signals on your side mirrors or dashboard, and sometimes even with sounds or vibrations. 

There are two main types of BSM systems: passive and active. Passive systems provide warnings, leaving it up to you to take corrective action. Active systems go a step further by intervening to prevent lane changes if a vehicle is detected in your blind spot, potentially steering or applying brakes to avoid a collision.

However, these systems aren’t foolproof. Detection ranges can be limited, and environmental factors like heavy rain or snow might cause false alerts. It’s important to remember that BSM systems should supplement, not replace, manual checks. Always look over your shoulder before changing lanes, and regularly maintain your vehicle’s sensors and cameras to ensure they function correctly.

Practical Tips for Checking Blind Spots

Blind spots when driving is something that constantly needs to be checked. This is why it’s important to get into the habit of doing it when you first start driving. Here are some tips that can make things easier for you. 

Adjusting Side Mirrors

Regularly adjust mirrors to ensure the widest possible view. Position side mirrors so you can barely see the side of your car, expanding the view to minimise blind spots​ When you get a new car or someone else drives your car, readjusting the mirrors for your view is important. 

Adjusting the Rearview Mirror

To adjust the mirror, sit in your normal driving position and move the mirror until you can see the entire back window without having to move your head. Make sure the rearview mirror provides an unobstructed view of the traffic behind you. It should capture the horizon and a portion of the sky, which helps you gauge the distance and speed of vehicles and other cars approaching from behind.

In-Car Practice

Whenever you’re behind the wheel, make it a habit to glance over your shoulder to check blind spots before changing lanes or merging. This simple action can prevent accidents and keep you aware of your surroundings. 

Practice is key, so consciously include blind spot checks during your driving sessions. Before every lane change, turn, or merge, take a moment to look over your shoulder and confirm no vehicles are in your blind spot.

Want to Practice Blind Spot Checks?

If you’re a learner driver showing the examiner you’re aware of blind spots will go a long way to passing your test. Book practice lessons at a time that suits you with EzLicence. All you need to do is choose from our list of accredited driving instructors in your area and you’ll be ready to go in no time. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What Causes Blind Spots in Driving?

Blind spots are caused by limitations in your vehicle’s design, like window pillars and mirrors. Adjust your mirrors properly and perform shoulder checks to reduce risks. Larger vehicles have more extensive blind spots to take into account.

How Do You Prevent Blind Spots When Driving?

To prevent blind spots, adjust your mirrors properly and use blind spot mirrors or monitoring systems. Always check over your shoulder before changing lanes. Avoid staying in other vehicles’ blind spots, especially larger ones like lorries and buses.

How Do You Fix Blind Spots on a Car?

You can fix blind spots on your car by adjusting your side mirrors outward, installing blind spot mirrors, and using advanced monitoring systems. Don’t forget to perform shoulder checks before changing lanes to guarantee complete visibility.

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