Part of safe driving is fully understanding the situation of the road around you and always knowing where other drivers are. In a car it can be very easy to assume that everything you need to pay attention to is either out the front window, or the rear-view mirror, but this overlooks a critical area of driving. In every car, there is a part which is known as the blind spot: this is essential to be aware of.
The blind spot is the area of the road that cannot be seen through either the side or rear-view mirrors. For this reason the blind spot can be extremely dangerous and every driver needs to learn where it is and how and when to check it.
The blind spot will generally be the rear left and right sides of a vehicle not covered by internal and external regular mirrors. The biggest blind spot is over a driver's right shoulder, between the edge of where the peripheral vision ends and the area up to the back of the car that isn't seen in the side mirror. The left side blind spot is much smaller, but still an important spot that needs to be checked.
The blind spot check should always be carried out before moving off from a stationary position, overtaking, or generally making any move that requires your vehicle to change direction. All drivers must check these areas by turning their head physically to see them and ensuring they are clear before moving.
Blind spots will vary in size depending on the size and height of the vehicle, but they are generally dealt with in the same manner. Make checking the blind spot one of the normal parts of driving. Motorcyclists call these checks the "lifesaver glance" as they are fundamentally important in ensuring they can move safely. Failing to check this area can mean you miss oncoming vehicles or traffic merging from side roads.
You cannot over-stress the importance of the blind spot in driving. If you are dealing with a learner driver it is imperative they are aware of the importance of this area and learn how to correctly identify it and check it whenever a manoeuvre calls for it to be checked.
You can partially eliminate the blind spot by the use of fisheye mirrors. These small mirrors can be bought for little money and are attached to the outer side mirrors of a vehicle. These mirrors give a fish eye effect, thus showing more of the roadway than regular mirrors. People who utilize these blind spot mirrors will often still rely on the turn of the head to double-check the area and this is generally good advice for all drivers.
If you remember to always check your blind spot before moving, you'll be ensuring that your car isn't a hazard to other drivers. Next time you go into your car, park on a main road, around 20 metres from a side road on the right behind you. Look into your side view mirror and you'll see that the side road doesn't appear in it. When sitting there, look over your right shoulder and you'll see that the blind spot is actually a very large area, completely invisible until you do that right shoulder check. Once you realise this, it should help you always remember to check it every time before you move off.
Disclaimer: The information in the article is for general purpose information only and should not be constituted as legal advice. This article has been produced by a third party and Jardine Motors does not take any responsibility for the completeness, accuracy, or reliability with respect to the website or the information provided. Article last updated October 2018.