Although all drivers know that blind spots exist, far too few remember to check their blind spots before turning or changing lanes. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, about 50,000 crashes and almost 16,000 injuries could be prevented if all vehicles were equipped with blind spot monitoring.
Blind spot accidents pose a special risk to pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcycle riders, who are typically less visible and have less protection in the event of a collision.
While you can’t eliminate your vehicle’s blind spots entirely, you can take steps to reduce the risk of a blind spot collision. Read on to learn how to avoid blind spot accidents and how Catalano Law can help victims of blind spot collisions in New York.
Blind spots are an area around the vehicle that cannot be seen by the driver of a vehicle while operating it. Typical blind spots include slightly behind the driver on either side of the vehicle, behind the pillars between the front windshield and the front side windows, and anywhere below the car, such as the front or back bumper.
Longer and taller vehicles, like SUVs and trucks, have larger blind spots than compact or mid-sized vehicles.
Depending on the vehicles involved in the accident, blind spot collisions can have various consequences. Changing lanes without making sure there is an opening to do so can end in a sideswipe causing cosmetic damage to both vehicles. It may also cause the other driver to brake suddenly to avoid a collision, and cause a rear-end accident with the vehicle behind them instead.
Some blind spot accidents can be catastrophic. For instance, if you hit a motorcycle rider in your blind spot, the biker could be hit with the full force of your car or be thrown from their motorcycle. Since motorcycles lack airbags and seat belts, motorcycle riders are more likely to be severely injured or die in an accident.
Like any accident, there is no guaranteed way to avoid a blind spot collision. However, there are ways you can lessen your chances of causing a blind spot accident.
- Adjust Your Mirrors
Though your side- and rear-view mirrors can’t eliminate your blind spot, adjusting them to maximize your visibility can significantly reduce the risk of a blind spot collision.
Your rear-view mirror should reflect your back windshield, not your car’s interior. Similarly, your side-view mirrors should primarily reflect the lane next to you; the body of your car should barely be visible.
- Use Your Turn Signals
Activating your turn signal tells other drivers that you plan to turn or change lanes, which allows them to exit your blind spot before you move. Turn on your turn signal 100 feet before your turn or lane change, in accordance with New York State law.
- Look Over Your Shoulder
Before you turn or change lanes, turn to look over your shoulder and through the driver’s or passenger-side window to ensure there is no person or vehicle in your blind spot. If you see a person or vehicle in your blind spot, allow them to pass first. The New York State Driver’s Manual states you should look over your shoulder before making lane changes.
- Maintain a Safe Distance
Even if you take appropriate precautions to avoid a blind spot accident, not all other drivers do. If you are driving in somebody else’s blind spot and they don’t take precautions to check their surroundings, you could be injured in a serious accident.
While it’s not always feasible to completely avoid another car’s blind spots, especially on multilane highways, avoid matching another car’s speed too closely. If you are both traveling at the same speed, you may remain in their blind spot for too long. Instead, slow down slightly to keep a safe distance behind them, or pass them if it’s possible to do so safely and legally. This can help you avoid staying in their blind spot for too long.
You may also need to remember that some vehicles have a blind spot directly behind them. Large trucks, with no way of seeing behind them, may brake suddenly, unaware that you are there, causing you to crash into them. Give large trucks extra space to account for their large blind spots.
- Use Technology or Tools
A growing number of new cars are being built with blind-spot monitoring technology. These vehicles are equipped with sensors that detect when a vehicle is in your blind spot and activate a light on your side-view mirrors.
If you activate your turn signal or try to turn while a car is in your blind spot, your vehicle will alert you. Depending on your car and its settings, you will hear a beep to tell you to avoid changing lanes, or the car might swerve back into your original lane.
If upgrading your car isn’t an option, consider upgrading your mirrors. For example, you can purchase small wide-angle mirrors, also called blind spot mirrors, to attach to your side-view windows that widen the viewing area. Similarly, you can replace your existing rear-view mirror with a wider mirror to get a better view of your surroundings.
If you’ve been seriously injured in a blind spot collision, Catalano Law can help you recover compensation for your damages. Our New York attorneys are familiar with all aspects of car accident claims. We will assist you with every step, from filing with your insurance to negotiating a settlement. Contact us today to request a free consultation.