Driving blind: Do you know where your vehicle's blind spots are?

Do you know where the blind spots on your vehicle are? Do you know when you're most at danger of hitting someone or something because of those blind spots?

Blind spots are something that every driver has to contend with, no matter how carefully they aim their vehicle's mirrors or think their vehicle is designed -- and they're responsible for about 300 deaths and 18,000 injuries a year.

Experts studied hundreds of popular vehicles and measured the rear blind zones for both an average-sized driver (at 5 feet and 8 inches of height) and a shorter driver (at 5 feet and 1 inch of height). The results identified two major things that drivers can count on: bigger vehicles equal bigger rear blind spots and so do shorter drivers.

For example, an average-sized driver of a typical hatchback has a rear blind spot that extends 9 feet from the back of his or her car. The shorter driver's blind spot extends 15 feet. By comparison, the rear blind spot of a pickup truck is 24 feet for an average-sized driver and a massive 35 feet for a shorter driver! Experts recommend that safety-conscious consumers consider adding a backup camera to their vehicles.

Blind spots on the sides of vehicles can be harder to calculate. Vehicle designs vary greatly, and driver size is a factor, so you have to learn to identify your blind spots through careful observation.

While it's always important to stay conscious of blind spots, there are some areas you want to be especially vigilant:

-- Lane changes are especially vulnerable to blind-spot accidents. About 18 percent of collisions occur during lane changes, many because a driver doesn't see another vehicle in his or her blind spot.

-- Pedestrians, including joggers, walkers and cyclists, can easily vanish into a blind spot. Be careful in parking lots, at intersections, in crowded city traffic and by crosswalks.

-- When you're on the road near a motorcyclist or two, be extra careful. The motorcycle's smaller body can make it easier to lose track of in a blind spot.

While you can do your best to reduce the odds of causing an accident due to a blind spot, you may still end up in one if another driver isn't careful. If you have a serious injury and have trouble dealing with the insurance company, an attorney can help.

Source: Gerber Collision & Glass, "Blind Spots Are to Blame for Many Accidents, So Know the Dangers," accessed May 25, 2017

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