What if I Told You That Vehicles Don’t Have Blind Spots? - ITS Tactical
 

What if I Told You That Vehicles Don’t Have Blind Spots?

By Jason Crist

driving article infographic combined-01

Most of us spend at least some part of our day driving a motor vehicle and unless you’re reading this from your apartment in NYC, I’ll say nearly all of us do. Driving is also the most dangerous thing folks do on a regular basis, even considering the fun and dangerous stuff most ITS readers enjoy frequently.

Driving is a physical action we engage in very frequently and like other activities, just because we do it every day, doesn’t mean we’re doing it right. The repercussions of doing it wrong can be dire, few things in our everyday lives that involve the forces that hurtling down the interstate at 80 mph do.

Jason Crist Mirrors

As a performance driving instructor and racer, I have a fairly good grip on vehicle handling dynamics. Those skills have been developed over years of instruction and track time, but one of the best lessons learned was picked up on day one. In my first classroom session, the instructor promised each and every one of us that we’d been setting our mirrors wrong since we started driving. He was right and I’ll bet the overwhelming majority of you do also.

Blind Spot

We are all familiar with the term “blind spot,” it’s one that’s used in countless police reports, on television in car advertisements and in every day driving situations; it’s an accepted phenomenon to say the least. Not to sound like Morpheus, but what if I told you that the blind spot didn’t exist?

Sure, in certain vehicles it’s impossible to get full rear-vision but those are few and far between and mostly include box vans with no rearview at all. It’s not your fault, believing in the blind spot, it’s been hammered into your head since day one.

You were never instructed how to eliminate them in driver’s education, hell even car companies upsell their cars to you with “blind spot sensors” and such. As a matter of fact, many vehicles don’t have the proper range of mirror movement to get wide enough. Why is this? Unfortunately I can’t answer that question, but I can help make you safer and more situationally aware.

The world is overwhelmingly oblivious to the topic, but this article isn’t the only one in existence to address it. I did come across other visual diagrams but felt they were lacking in certain aspects and we’ve created our own to help you visualize proper mirror adjustment.

driving article infographic1-01

The problem is simple; overlap. You don’t need to see the same thing in the side mirror and the rearview mirror. The poor adjustment images represent improper setting of your mirrors and show the sides of your own vehicle, in addition to the car directly behind in all three mirrors. However, you can’t really see the red car which sits in the “blind spot.”

The fix is to simply adjust your side mirrors further out until you have little to no overlap between them and what’s displayed in the rearview mirror. This is illustrated in the proper adjustment images above. What you’re doing is increasing the width of what you can see by eliminating the overlap.

The Fix

I was taught a simple way to set my mirrors correctly and I’ll pass it on to everyone here. Sit inside your vehicle on level ground, while keeping your head level and looking forward. Now, lean to your left until your shoulder touches the inside of your door and then keep leaning until your head touches your window.

This may seem awkward, but stick with me. In this leaned over position to your left, now look into your mirror and adjust it to the normal picture you’re used to, picking up a small amount of your door. When you return to center you shouldn’t see the side of your car at all in the mirror. Now, lean your body and head over to your right, just above the center console and set the right side mirror to display what you saw in your left mirror while you were leaned over.

driving article infographic2-01

This method is a simple way to start, but you should make adjustments while you’re driving. Watch cars in your rearview as they approach, do they appear in both the rearview mirror and a side mirror? If so, widen your side view. You can even have someone walk around your car while in a parking lot.

A little overlap is acceptable and as I mentioned earlier, some cars don’t have the range to widen the mirrors out far enough. It may take a while to get used to this adjustment after doing it, but the first thing you’ll notice, other than superior vehicular SA (that sounds awesome), is that the landscape in both side mirrors is rolling by very quickly. This may be a little disorienting at first, but you’ll get used to it pretty quickly.

Now that you’ve equipped yourself with the knowledge to defeat the dreaded, yet fictitious “blind spot,” go forth and teach your friends and family. Being safer on the road doesn’t just mean improving your own driving skills, it’s a “two way street” and your safety depends on the actions of others. Spread the word, for all of us!

Editor-in-Chief’s Note: Jason is a small business owner in Virginia specializing in Physical IT Infrastructure & Electronic Security. He’s also an administrator and instructor with BMWCCA Club Racing Schools. Jason has attended the ITS Muster each year and we’re stoked to have him as a Life Member!

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Discussion

158 comments
Thebanditone
Thebanditone

What about commercial motor vehicles? There definitely is a large blind spot on them called a trailer and the blind spot on those can change drastically

gibsonjont
gibsonjont

Again, this article is spot--on.  If you're worried about bike-riders getting into your 'blind spot' without you're knowing it, watch your rearview more!  Be aware of what is around you at ALL TIMES.


Driver's-Ed class does teach students to check their mirrors often, and that's the trick.  


Of course, to placate the requirements of laws written for ignorant & skill-less people, one often does have to do the shoulder-check, depending on jurisdiction and Revised Code, to even pass the skills test part of a driving exam.  It doesn't help at all to tell a driving-test official that your car doesn't have blind spots, because it's often written into the Revised Code that ALL vehicles have them, which is a type of 'lowest common denominator' law...


Anyway, the writer of the article is correct.

cher af
cher af

@gibsonjont No mater how you adjust the mirrors in our expedition, GMC Yukon & F250 there where blind spots.  Turning my head on all three to look for cars to my right the seat backs & the metal support posts also block the same area. I was glad to get sensors for the blind spot on the GMS but still had to add additional mirrors to the vehicle on the right side because sensor does not  give enough warning at highway speeds. So the manufacturer mirrors on all three vehicles left an areas large enough that a midsize car was not visible. Manufactures should be building cars with mirrors that can see these areas. We have added ones on all three vehicles that the allowed that area to be seen. But as they came off the line they had blind spots not mater how we adjusted the mirrors.

JCrist
JCrist

Absolutely no excuse in a super duty level Ford product, my tow vehicle is an 04 Excursion. Those vics have convex mirrors in the lower portion of the mirrors that I personally choose to use to watch trailer tires for curbs or blowouts. So that using the for close coverage NOT wide beciaee yes- my mirrors are set properly.

I can only bring you folks to the trough, can't make you drink.

a10miletooth
a10miletooth

The thought that blinds pots don't exist is about as irresponsible as it gets when it comes to driving. As a driver and rider in California, I would never adjust my mirrors as shown to be "proper" in the illustration because then I wouldn't be able to see if a motorcycle was approaching during heavy traffic. Even with the mirrors directed to be wide there's still a blind spot on the side of the vehicle where a motorcycle can fit that you can't see without turning your head. If people living in areas where filtering is legal, or just common practice, take the advice here and adjust their mirrors so they cannot see between the row of vehicles on either side and end up cutting off a motorcycle or even killing a rider.... it's too bad that the author wouldn't be held accountable for that even though it's his advice that resulted in some person's head that made them think blind spots are fictitious.

a10miletooth
a10miletooth

Being conscious of my surroundings makes me a bad driver.... that's some real special reasoning skills you have there. I'm glad you're not in California and I'm sure the rest of the riding population is as well. Mainly because in heavy traffic you cannot see motorcycles filtering by looking through the prismatic mirror only. Thinking that you can is dangerous and irresponsible. Please, don't ever come here, you'd be a threat to our motorcycle population.

gibsonjont
gibsonjont

@a10miletooth I'm a 30 year motorcycle-riding veteran, so don't presume to tell me what's safe and what isn't.  Kthanks.

gibsonjont
gibsonjont

@a10miletooth And 'filtering' is about as stupid as stupid gets.  If EVERYONE rode a bike and filtered, the state could completely quit painting lanes on asphalt, everyone could just filter in every-which direction without thought or consideration that their own actions may kill them; it sounds like they do that already, anyway.  o.O

a10miletooth
a10miletooth

A 30-year motorcycle riding veteran who's apparently a fool or has never lived in an area where filtering is common practice. Take your pick. Because in heavy traffic you cannot see bikes filtering with your prismatic mirror. That's just reality whether you want to believe it or not.

Ahhh... I scrolled down and saw your remark about filtering.... it seems you're a fool. Thanks for clarifying before I even replied. States would quit painting lanes and people would just filter in any direction.... yeah OK, buddy, we're done here.

gibsonjont
gibsonjont

@a10miletooth You've been nothing but dismissive and nasty about other peoples' long-time experience, why should you expect any respectful comments or replies to you, given your demonstrated demeanor?  Grow up kid.

gibsonjont
gibsonjont

@a10miletooth When riding I do not trust my safety to any 'laws' as if they were magical forcefields... anyone who does, then complains that some cager injured them, is the fool. 

a10miletooth
a10miletooth

Regardless of your personal opinion towards filtering, it's legal in California and riders do it. Having mirrors adjusted as stated to be "correct" in this article removes the driver's ability to see motorcycles approaching in heavy traffic. That's just reality whether you accept it or not. Your experience has no impact on that fact. According to your first comment I'm a bad driver because I'm aware of that fact. I'm sorry but that's just a stupid thing to say. Then you said that filtering being legal everywhere would result in bikers filtering the wrong direction and states no longer painting lanes..... and I'm the kid? Hahahaha, you're ridiculous! Either way I'm done talking to you after this. With that said, stay safe on the road and I hope you enjoy another 30 years of riding. If you ever visit California I hope you don't kill any filtering riders because you think having your mirrors pointed out to reduce the blind spots to the side of your vehicle is the correct thing to do.

gibsonjont
gibsonjont

@a10miletooth Actually, I point all my mirrors so I can see my head from all angles... ya know, to make sure my hair isn't out of place.

DougDennison1
DougDennison1

Good information, but this article could have been written with 1/4 of the words. 10 paragraphs to get to the point? People don't have enough time to read that much.

Here's what the Car Talk guys recommend: Adjust your mirrors such that when a passing vehicle exits the view of your rearview mirror, it enters the view in your respective side mirrors. Adjust to taste. Even with this method, though, there still can be a blind spot, albeit dramatically smaller.

litemyner
litemyner

Call me old school, but how about people use the tried and true method of looking over their shoulders.  I see so many people on the road these days not even using their mirrors much less looking over their shoulder when they want to change lanes.  So while I agree with the above about adjusting your mirrors to lessen blind spots, ultimately it is the driver that needs to be conscious of their surroundings.

JCrist
JCrist

I agree with your post and it's worth saying more and more each day with the growing distractions inside our vehicles. If people had their mirrors set poorly but never allowed themselves to get distracted we still would have much fewer issues.

I would like to point out that the best method is awesome mirror coverage and keeping your eyes as close to forward as possible. I know it's not completely one to one applicable but during race school I can see when a student is turning his/her head because the hands follow. It becomes a serious issue when we are doing 3-wide drills on a racing surface and the margin is much smaller than highway situations. Just felt like it was worth mentioning the dynamic of turning your head and your hands following. All that said, when I'm in doubt on the street, I turn my head. If on track, I stay where I am lane-wise until I can be sure.

gibsonjont
gibsonjont

@litemyner turning your head away from the direction your car is moving, sometimes moving very quickly, isn't terribly smart since it only takes a second for something in front of you to go wrong.

marc
marc

This is silly, if you want to have a bigger field of view from your mirror use a wideangle mirror. It's a good thing to keep your rear door handle on your side mirror, it will help you gage the distance the car next to you is in relation to your own vehicle and tell you if it's clear to cross or not.


If you move the mirror towards the outside, sure you will gain better vision of what would be in your "blind spot" but you loose entirely the perspective and the relation between your vehicle and the one next to you. 


Additionnaly I can see lane to lane with my wide angled mirror, you can buy some cheap ones for 5$ or less and stick em' on your side mirrors and still get a better vision and "situational awareness" than if you would fan out your mirrors...

Tddh
Tddh

Those wide angled mirrors can and can't be reliable. I'm an escort driver and have been driving on the road close to three hundred day out of a year and for nine years. Your side rear view mirrors are the most reliable due to merging and passing traffic. Your center rear view may be the only thing to alert sooner of a vehicle or anything that may run into you but don't just rely on that only.

JCrist
JCrist

I love wide angle mirrors, more is better for sure. Still don't agree that there's much to gain by seeing your door and certainly not at the expense of covering the alleged "blind spot" but can't argue with having the mirrors to get everything!

gibsonjont
gibsonjont

So many stupid people on the road... The author of the article is right, but stupid always has a bigger mouth.

Honorio Nozaki
Honorio Nozaki

You don't see motocycle.

Blint spot is not completely eliminated.

JCrist
JCrist

@Honorio Nozaki  You are taking the diagram at scale and it isn't.  If your mirrors are adjusted properly the point in which you can't see in your mirrors should be in your peripheral.  Would take a ton less time to actually try it than create the very nice graphic .  Thanks for reading!

Honorio Nozaki
Honorio Nozaki

@JCrist @Honorio Nozaki 

Hi, how are you?

I've performed some street tests by using a special convex mirror instaled inside car.

The camera was located exactely betweem  my eyes and the mirrors to avoid any misalignment recording.

The outside mirror was flat (No curvature).

The does not show the car.

Appreciate vídeo below.

Best regards.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJaIppjkhMc

JCrist
JCrist

No argument here, convex mirrors add great visibility and situation awareness. In my race car I also had them installed and I would give them a quick check before turning in to make sure I hadn't missed a car. The issue is they don't offer much range but you don't need that in your setup. Like mine, they are there just to check a specific area. As is the concept demonstrated in this article, limiting overlap between your rear view and side view mirrors will cover that misnomer "blind spot".

Nice work with your mirrors!

JCrist
JCrist

@Honorio Nozaki  recent comment brought me back to the thread so while I'm here I'd like to add that the goal is to have overlap or greatly minimize the transition from peripheral to side mirror vision.  That applies to your modified diagram above.  Thanks again for being such a valuable participant in this thread.

JCrist
JCrist

Haven't visited in a while and I see things have spiraled a little out of control. For the towing comment- Yeah, because I didn't tow my racecar to the track..... right. Like politics, people go a little crazy on things they don't agree with or understand. If you would set your mirrors like instructed and have someone walk around the rear and sides of your car you'd see you aren't losing any vision, you are just eliminating the overlap. Do the same while driving, if you see a vehicle clearly in both the rear view and the side view you are wasting range. As far as backing into a parking space, yes you have to move your head a little more with the proper mirror alignment but you are stopped. Who will argue 0-5mph is more critical than highway operation? Well, I know you will, folks already have, just wanted to reiterate some data for those who are considering taking some professional advice. 😉

mac
mac

All the people making negative comments here are ignoring the first, basic rule of driving.


PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT IS AROUND YOU.   Watch and keep track of what behind you.  If you do that, you will know that the little red car that was behind you shifted lanes and is now gone.  WHERE IS IT?  In your blind spot.  I agree that if you adjust the mirror out further as suggested you have a new blind spot, but once again PAY ATTENTION.  I do this and sometimes if the car has gone off at an exit and I couldn't see it go because it was in the blind spot all the time, I realize I have "lost" a car. Then you lean forward, look at both side mirrors, and you will be able to see into the blind spot.


PAY ATTENTION!!!

James Hilliard
James Hilliard

Obviously who ever said that never drove an 18 wheeler.

mac
mac

He is talking about the average driver, and does mention box vans (and by extension, other vehicles with limited rear vision.


Jay Tillitt
Jay Tillitt

Check the size of the pillars on the Toyota FJ Cruiser. Big blind spots.

Jamie Franks
Jamie Franks

If you told me blind spots didn't exist, I'd assume you'd never driven a Chrystler PT Cruiser.

Mike Skibbe
Mike Skibbe

You must not have adjusted your mirrors properly.

Ian MacMillan
Ian MacMillan

Must not have driven a Dodge Charger police package...

Alexi Paizis
Alexi Paizis

This is totally wrong for 2 reasons: 1. If you can't see your own car in your side mirrors then it makes backing up, specifically with reverse 90 and parallel much more difficult. 2. The picture below shows two very common situations. In both cases car 1 had determined that it's clear to move (he only checks his mirrors because he uses the blind spot elimination method), but Car 2 is making a lane change over to the right, which car 1 cannot see because he only checks mirrors. In both situations Car 2 had the right of way. Car 1 does not have the right of way at all in either situation.

gibsonjont
gibsonjont

Way to argue with a race car driver there... you win!  smh o.O

RoborBob
RoborBob

@gibsonjont I don't know you but your smug sense of unearned superiority is quite hilarious.  

RoborBob
RoborBob

@gibsonjont it's cute when you make dismissive comments that don't actually refute anything and pass it off as an argument.

gibsonjont
gibsonjont

@RoborBob @gibsonjont The last thing I need to do is refute anything when the article provides all the refutation anyone might need.  Some people just choose to not agree with the article.

David Duenke
David Duenke

I love that you saw that too...totally reminded me of that game.

Evan Vittoriano
Evan Vittoriano

The whole point of the head check is BECAUSE of the blind spots.

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