Know Your Blind Spots

4 min read
This kind of awareness can save lives!

Between 2012 and 2016, a total of 547 accidents involving pedestrians at traffic junctions were recorded; out of these, 35 were fatal. One of the problems faced by pedestrians is that they can’t always see or be seen by turning vehicles when crossing a traffic junction due to a vehicle’s blind spots. This makes it particularly dangerous for them, especially at junctions where discretionary turns are allowed.

IF YOU’RE A DRIVER

As drivers, we all need time to react to situations. Taking the time to understand our vehicle’s blind spots can help to keep the roads safer.

Blind spots are areas around a vehicle where other road users cannot be seen by the driver. Some drivers think that it’s enough to rely on their peripheral vision and their car’s side and rear-view mirrors, but blind spots still exist even with those items.

The three pillars of blind spots

The key areas of a car that make up its blind spots are its pillars. These spots are evident on all cars regardless of design and type (see image).

The A-pillars are located at the front of the car on either side of the windscreen, the B-pillars are at the centre between the front and rear doors (for four-door models), and the C-pillars are on either side of the rear windscreen.

At a road junction as you wait to turn, the A-pillars can easily hide a cyclist, motorcycle or, in some cases where the pillars are thick, even a small car. So it is best to slow down to observe if anything emerges from A-pillar blind spots before you make a move. That moment could mark the difference between life and death.

When driving off or on the road, the B- and C-pillar blind spots come into play. You may feel that your side and rear-view mirrors give enough attention to traffic approaching from behind, but blind spots often have hidden surprises. For example, if there is a motorcyclist at your right rear blind spot, he or she will not be visible if you just look at your rear-view and side mirrors. To avoid an accident, you must physically turn to look over your shoulder that it is indeed clear for you to move off or change lanes.

Blind spot monitoring and additional mirrors

Some cars are equipped with a blind spot monitoring system, while other motorists may resort to installing additional mirrors that provide a wider coverage with or without such a monitoring system. While these are useful add-ons, it is still up to the driver to practise good judgement.

Dealing with heavy vehicles

Heavy vehicles such as trucks and buses have more blind spots due to their larger size and taller height. While such vehicles have safety features such as extra mirrors, it is best that you keep a safe distance from them. Use the following tips when approaching heavy vehicles:

  1. When driving or riding on the roads, make sure you can see the side mirrors of the heavy vehicle; if you are not able to see the side mirrors, it means you are in the heavy vehicle’s blind spot.
  2. Make sure you are able to see the heavy vehicle driver in his side mirror; if you cannot see him, he cannot see you.
  3. Take note of the heavy vehicle’s turn signals and brake lights and prepare your next action accordingly.
  4. Keep a four-second distance from a heavy vehicle directly in front of you to stay visible, and avoid tailgating.
  5. Stay alert when driving on either side of the heavy vehicle. The vehicle’s larger size means sections of the lanes, particularly the left side, are not visible to the driver. If you have to pass on this lane, signal early and make sure the driver sees you before you pass.
  6. Be extra cautious when driving beside or behind a turning truck or bus, as heavy vehicles tend to swing wide to make a turn.

IF YOU’RE A PEDESTRIAN

Blind spots are dangerous because these areas are outside of the driver’s line of vision. So stay cautious and keep safe with these tips:

  1. Be alert at road junctions, even if you have the right of way. Check both ways and cross only when the green man comes on or when the cars turning into your path have come to a standstill.
  2. Make eye contact with the driver to ensure he or she sees you.
  3. Do not cross behind a vehicle as the vehicle may reverse without noticing you.
  4. Avoid standing too close to heavy vehicles. Heavy vehicles are big so their blind spot areas are even bigger than those of a passenger car. In fact, a bus driver can not see anyone standing right in front of his vehicle.
  5. Always walk on the sidewalk rather than along the road.
  6. Be visible — wear bright clothing or reflective strips, especially at night.

The United Nations Global Road Safety Week is held from 6–12 May 2019, an international campaign conducted annually to raise awareness of road safety around the world. Join us as we #SpeakUp to SaveLIVES.