We’ve all heard the warnings about checking our blind spots before changing lanes, but what exactly is a blind spot? Where are they located on our car? How can we be sure we aren’t in someone else’s blind spot when changing lanes? Here are some tips for checking your blind spots while driving.
What is a blind spot?
A blind spot is an area around your vehicle that you cannot see in your side or rear view mirrors. Every car has blind spots no matter how big or small, and they are located on both sides of the vehicle. The size of your blind spot will depend on the make and model of your car.
Where are blind spots located?
The blind spots are located on both sides of your vehicle, about two to three car lengths back from the rear of your car. This occupies a space where a car or object is not visible in your rear or side view mirrors but is also not within your peripheral vision. Blind spots are dangerous because if you change lanes without being aware that there is a vehicle or object in your blind spot, it can result in an accident.
How to check blind spots when changing lanes
The best way to check your blind spots is to do the shoulder check. This means that when you want to change lanes, you should first look over your shoulder in the direction of your turn. This allows you to see what is in your blind spot before changing lanes, thus preventing any accidents from occurring. Before doing a shoulder check, be sure to check both your mirrors and then look over your shoulder.
The following are the proper steps for checking your blind spots when merging or changing lanes:
- Verify that you are traveling at a safe speed and are maintaining a safe distance from the cars in front of you.
- Check your rearview mirror first to see what traffic is directly behind you as well as in lanes to either side of you.
- Turn on your turn signal to indicate to other drivers that you are changing lanes.
- Check your blind spot by glancing over your shoulder in the direction you want to move. Return your attention to the front of the road.
- If it is safe to change lanes, then complete your lane change.
How to know if you are in another cars’ blind spot
Good defensive drivers should be aware of not only their own blind spots, but also the blind spots of other vehicles on the road. Blind spots are located on the sides of a vehicle, so to know if you are in another car’s blind spot, look at their side view mirrors. If you see your car or any part of your car reflected in that mirror, then you are most likely in their blind spot.
In that scenario, they may not be able to see you in their side or rear view mirrors. You should either slow down to get further behind them or pass their car at a safe speed to get out of their blind spot. It is not ideal to travel at the same speed as the other car while in their blind spot.
Rear Blind Spots
In addition to being located along the side of your car, blind spots can also be found on the back of your vehicle. These areas are known as “rear blind spots” and can make it difficult to see if someone is following closely behind you or if there is another car in one of your rear-view mirrors. Rear blind spots can be an issue when reversing your car.
Other tips for checking blind spots while driving
When merging into traffic, like on a highway, always use your turn signal to indicate to other drivers that you are changing lanes. This will give them time to adjust their speed to try to get out of your blind spot and give you some room.
Take your time when changing lanes. There is no need to hurry and risk an accident. Changing lanes at a steady pace will allow other drivers to sound their horn in the event that you are merging into their space.
Anticipate your next driving action. If you know you will be changing lanes soon, start checking side and rear view mirrors to get a sense of other vehicles around your car. Trying to merge at the last minute is never ideal.
Make your shoulder check a habit. You should be doing a shoulder check every time you want to change lanes. The best way to get into the habit of checking your blind spots is to practice while driving in an empty parking lot or on a quiet street. Even if you are certain that there are no cars around you, doing a shoulder check every time will make it a habit so that you do it automatically when you are driving on busy streets.