Blind Spots 101
By: Catherine Douglas | SADD National Student Leadership Council
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has found that almost 840,000 crashes occur in the U.S. each year due to a driver's neglect of the blind spot. While this is an alarming statistic, we can do our part in reducing the number of blind-spot related crashes by being an attentive driver, always aware of our surroundings!
Before you put the vehicle in drive, double-check to make sure that your seat, steering wheel, and mirrors are adjusted so that you can perform your best as a driver. Having your mirrors adjusted and positioned for optimum visibility is the first step you should take to protect you, and those around you, from an avoidable crash. For the rearview mirror inside your car, the goal is to set it so that you can see your entire rear window. For your two mirrors outside of the car, adjust them so you can barely see the side of your car. Once they’re set, you’re ready to roll!
Paying attention and having a sense of awareness of other vehicles you share the road with is a key part of safe driving. Blind spots may not seem dangerous, and you may think you know where they are and how to handle them; however, it can be an easy mistake to forget to check them. Don’t rely solely on your mirrors when checking to make sure it is safe to change lanes. Look over your shoulder while keeping the wheel steady AND check your mirrors. Be on the lookout for fast-moving vehicles too!
The simple act of changing lanes could turn lethal if you don’t check to see that there is enough space for you to do so safely. For example, while merging on the interstate people can easily neglect the necessary steps of checking their blind spots before merging. Furthermore, people often neglect to turn on their blinker to alert other drivers about their next movements.
Checking your blind spot is just as important as wearing your seatbelt. Consider each step in the process of safe driving to be a piece of a puzzle. When all of the steps are pieced together, you’re bound to arrive at your destination safely. The small act of checking your blind spots can have a huge impact. As a teen, I understand that all of the components of each driving skill can be overwhelming. Take it from me – practice will help you reach perfection!
For more information on how to tackle blind spots, check out The National Road Safety Foundation and SADD's Passport to Safe Driving!