Your Car's Blind Spot - How Dangerous Is It?

The area directly behind your car or truck is known as the “blind spot.” Blind spots, or areas that cannot be seen by the driver through any of the mirrors or windows, exist on all vehicles. Although many drivers confidently claim that they can see anything around their vehicle, this is far from the case. In fact, as the name “blind spot” implies, the area directly behind your car is quite hidden from the view of the driver. Although an adult standing in this area can usually be seen through the mirrors, a small child or a pet may not be, and this has been the cause of far too many tragic accidents.

The 2006 Jeep Commander has been found by Consumer Reports to have the largest blind zone, up to 44 feet behind the vehicle, while smaller cars usually have a much smaller blind zone. Another factor affecting your field of vision is your height; as the driver's height decreases, the blind spot typically grows larger. Some larger vehicles can even get an entire bike or a car in their blind spot; this is one of the reasons why large semi trucks often have stickers on the back of their trucks reminding drivers to stay out of their unusually large blind zone. While SUVs and large trucks have notoriously large blind spots, every car has at least some blind zone, and no matter what vehicle you own, you should be particularly cautious when backing up, lest you unwittingly hit something in your blind spot.

Luckily, today there are devices to prevent this occurrence. Known as “blind spot back up alerts,” these devices alert the driver to a presence of an object outside their field of vision. These devices can reduce the likelihood of injury or property damage resulting from the blind spot. Blind spot detectors automatically turn on when you place your vehicle in reverse, and detect objects large or small in the path of the backing vehicle. There are two levels of audible warnings, including an early warning system and an immediate warning, to be sure that you're able to stop in time.

Just how big of a problem is the blind spot? In 2002, there were 349 backing-up incidents involving at least one child, resulting in 104 deaths. Nearly a third of all children killed in vehicular accidents were the victims of backing scenarios. This statistic doesn't even consider the thousand of other accidents involving vehicles backing into adult pedestrians, motorcycle riders, vehicles, or stationary objects. Pulling a vehicle out of the driveway or parking spot is a common act, taken for granted by most drivers without so much as a thought. Many people simply don't realize just how dangerous this can be.

We've all heard of these tragic stories in the news; don't let it happen to you or to those you love. “I just didn't see them” will not be a very comforting excuse if this happens to you. Without the warning system of a back up alert, it is virtually impossible for a driver to know when they are about to back over a toy, a pet, or even a child.

By James Shaw

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