It's a much better idea to make sure your side and rear mirrors have complete coverage (i.e. no gaps) at the back, and actually turning your head to check the blind spot. Make a habit of doing this on every lane switch or turn, even if you think you're at the side of the road - there may be a bike lane or crosswalk you didn't notice, or someone might be simply be using a nonexistant lane of travel.
A good way to adjust your mirrors is to have someone walk by your car, and make sure you can see them in either your rear or side mirrors, and make a note of where you need to look for the blind spot.
Of course, even if you make sure the side and rear mirrors provide complete rear coverage, that doesn't always keep things safe - some cyclists and motorcyclists seem to like to jump out from behind a vehicle to lane-split and then get mad when they see you switching lanes in front of them...
I tried what the link suggests and had many instances where a motorcycle zipped by close to my car -- I didn't notice them until [what would have been] too late because I couldn't see the area next to my car easily that way. Now I have my mirrors adjusted so I can see motorcycles better, and I turn my head to check the remainder.
All humans are legally blind in their peripheral vision just a few degrees off-axis, so I make sure to focus where I claim to be checking.
I've measured the exact point at which an object leaves the field of vision of the side mirror, and I'm pretty sure it's slightly ahead of the driver side window, at which point glancing at the mirror will see them anyway. There's potentially a blind spot if a motorcyclist or bicyclist is on the far side of the lane next to you (not close to the car, but lined up with it), but as long as you change lanes slowly and don't just barrel across 4 lanes of traffic you'll see them long before you hit them.
 same link, and the fact that my vehicle came from the US manufacturer with both.
This is a misleading summary. Humans can’t read text or distinguish fine textures in peripheral vision, but peripheral vision is very good at detecting moving objects (that’s arguably its main purpose).
I like to think of peripheral vision as “prey vision” – as in, “what would I need to know about my environment if I were a deer and a wolf might jump out at me from any side, and my main response should be to run away as soon as possible?”
substantial movement relative to your position/trajectory.
So I usually compromise by keeping a small sliver of the car visible in the mirrors and turning my head at least slightly when I use them. I think that's probably the way to optimize for real-world safety.
Another pet peeve is a feature my own car has, which is an auto-dimming function that's intended to cut down on glare from nearby headlights. If I turn that on, the side mirrors get so dark that I can't see cars that don't have their headlights on, which is all too common near dusk around here. Extremely dangerous implementation of an otherwise helpful feature. One of these days I'm going to open up the mirror housings and clip the appropriate wires, since I really only want the interior mirror to adjust itself.
Let me share a story. I am blind to my left eye which means I have to turn my entire head way, way to the left to be able to look into "blind spot". Once I almost crashed the car when looking into "blind spot" when joining into busy highway because the car before me broke hard as some other care before run out of space. Only my wife screamed and I instinctively slammed the brakes and stopped few inches from the car before me.
This was about 10 years ago. I started reading about how to fix this problem and I found the article why and exact procedure.
It took some time to get adjusted. Particularly, driving with no traffic at the beginning meant there was nothing in the side mirrors which was disconcerting. Also, when you back up with your car you have to tilt to be able to see the side of your car. But, remember, you can back up as slowly as you want but when you need to join moving traffic you have to do it at speed.
Nevertheless, I finally feel free in my car. I know exactly what is happening around me just by scanning the mirrors with very little head movement and on the lanes directly to the left and to the right I have no blind spot where a cyclist could fit. There are blind spots on further lanes so if I change lane I still need to make sure there is no car that decided, at the same instant, to also change his lane.
If you sit straight and you see the sides of your car even a tiny bit then your mirrors are way from being well set up. It is not a compromise, you have a huge blind spot unless you have particularly large side mirrors. Thats because your rear view mirror is a cone, and the job of your side mirror is point exactly in the middle between your peripheral vision and the cone shown by rear view mirror. If your side mirror sees the side of your car then over half of your rear view mirror is duplicated with your side mirror. If both side mirrors are set this way then you don't really need the rear view mirror as in both side mirrors you see the road behind your car.
For me this is mostly about the extra time it keeps me from making a stupid deadly mistakes. Switching lanes that way takes longer, and this is a feature not a bug.
It is ridiculous, because the side mirrors should give you a far away view, and then you look to the side to make sure that closeby there is nothing either. You only have to turn your head.
Now this method in the article would make you lean into mirror to get behind you, then you go back to normal position and look in the mirror, then you look to the side.
Someone thinks they have found a hack to mirrors and driving, but they are just making it more dangerous especially by spreading this new interesting way.
The message still stands that a lot of drivers could have avoided hitting someone if they had used their mirrors and looked to the side. Accidents however often happen because of distraction causing a driver not to do what they normally would do.
You don't need to move your head at all to see a car at any point while it is coming up behind you and passing you: that's the whole point of adjusting your mirrors the way the article describes.
As the article notes, you should still turn your head before making a maneuver like changing lanes. But because your mirrors are giving you more coverage, the head turning doesn't need to be as extreme.
But what I'm saying is the article's suggestion doesn't allow me to see something smaller like a motorcycle with the mirrors, and either I'd have to turn my head even further to see it with the mirrors in suggested position to check that area or -- worse yet -- I can't physically see that spot without the aid of a mirror.
In other words, you now have some amount of "blind spot" for motorcycles--but only motorcycles. Whereas, with the mirrors adjusted further in, you still have some blind spot for motorcycles--though perhaps less than with them adjusted further out--but you also now have a blind spot for cars, which you don't have with the mirrors adjusted further out. And cars are much more common than motorcycles, so adjusting the mirrors further out is a net gain in how many vehicles you can see with the mirrors.
An even better solution is cameras like the ones that some higher end vehicles now have for changing lanes. In the ones I've seen, when you turn on your turn signal, your vehicle's screen (the one that shows the backup camera image when you're in reverse) shows a view of everything on that side of your vehicle. No blind spot for anything. Eventually I'm hoping this will become mainstream (the way backup cameras are getting to be).
That said, I still turn my head and check before changing lanes. Belt and suspenders.
But newer cars have such poor visibility that it takes too much effort to track movement such that it becomes a diversion. In my '93 Civic any kind of movement in my peripheral--direct or in the mirror--registered immediately; and that peripheral was wide and tall and clear. It was also easier to hear the road and traffic, which also helped. Newer cars make you feel like you're entombed and deaden the senses, compounding the problem.
I know part of my degraded situational awareness is getting older, but since we keep a '98 Civic for when I have to commute by car, I have an idea about which changes are more objective than subjective. The sight lines in the '98 Civic aren't as great as the '93, but still incomparable to the post-2010 cars I've leased or rented. I drive both our family car (new lease every 2-3 years) and the '98 in roughly equal proportion and pretty much all of my unforced traffic errs have been in newer cars. (The most egregious of which are not noticing pedestrians about to cross at a four-way intersection. Modern A pillars seem deviously sized and placed to perfectly obscure the far corners of an intersection. Though I suppose these are the errs I'm most likely to notice as the pedestrians are revealed the moment you begin to enter the intersection from a stop. Most other potential collisions probably go unnoticed.)
Thankfully this year we finally leased a car with lane departure warning. It hasn't actually prevented an unforced err, yet, but I'm glad it's there. (I know it's there because it'll beep if there's an adjacent car when I initiate signaling, even if I'm not moving into the lane. If a car sneaks up after signaling it only warns when you begin the lane change.)
In Europe the smallest car typically does not fit in the blind spot, in the US a pick up truck fits in there.
It will probably take a lot of lawsuits to turn the trend around. We might not get there before driving your car is outlawed, obviating the whole problem.
They could be lying, I suppose. I don't know why they would, but that doesn't mean they're not (after all their lips are moving), but I like to have some evidence.
that said, there are plenty of affordable cars with great visibility (e.g., a vw golf). if you pick a car with bad visibility, it's kinda on you.
I have to say though, the design of that intersection seems crazy. do I understand correctly that vehicles traveling on either road can just go straight across without stopping if they don't see anyone? where I live, at least one of those roads would need a stop sign. I can't think of a single time where I've been surprised by someone moving perpendicular to me.
The worst case is when they expect to turn right soon; I consistently have drivers half-overtake me and then start moving towards me, or turn right across a bike lane without looking.
When I took my driving test in Ireland the examiner marked me down for checking for cyclists and simply said "there won't be any cyclists doing 20kph" - which of course is a very normal cycling speed.
I don't think I've ever forgotten about a biker I've passed, but I also like to avoid situations where I might forget, which put the biker in a position to surprise me, or which impede my maneuverability if something else happens.
But while I'm okay poking along for a block, if there's traffic behind me then that could result in an impatient driver overtaking both of us, which could be far worse. It's a tricky balancing act.
I will admit to having a mildly "political" motive, in that I would like drivers to have a positive experience dealing with cyclists. So I'm probably more courteous than the bare minimum required by the traffic laws. I get out of the way if I'm backing up traffic, whether driving a car or riding my bike.
My general preference is to find routes where there's minimal car traffic.
Me too, except the other way around. I will make sure there is a ton of room before merging in front of a bicyclist, and I will give them the full lane on a two lane road when passing them even if they're hugging the curb.
When riding on the streets, they are given the same legal protection as any other vehicle. I just wish that every bicyclist also knew that they have to follow every law a car does too - including stopping at red lights and stop signs.
Either way, it sounds like you've given it a lot of thought so you're likely the least of my worries. Just imagine it would be your child on the bicycle and you'll probably do the right thing. (Short of picking them up -- don't do that.)
When you are piloting a multi ton hunk of steel and flammables, you should take care to look around you and be aware of everything and everyone around you. This cannot be done with Mirrors, cameras and sensors alone. Use your eyes, and turn your head. Ive a really good friend that was crushed by a car that didn't see him in the "blind spot". He had just purchased his dream bicycle, was out putting in road work, and a car swerved and smashed him between a concrete embankment and the car. 3 years later, he walks with a cane, has a replacement hip, knee and sets off any metal detector to its maximum reading. Please look around for everyone.
I remember reading a great (and hilarious) quip about side mirror configuration:
"There is no point in seeing your own car through the side mirrors because it's the one thing on the road that you cannot possibly collide with."
me: safety nerd, ex-blogger/founder, urbandriver.org (RIP)
The rule is, who cares if it's behind you. Do whatever the hell you want, because people behind you can see you and they will get out of your way. You can't easily see them, so don't concern yourself with them.
This does rely on ALL drivers being much more attentive than the average first-world driver.
If you want to be polite, or you're doing something really unexpected like stopping in the driving lane to let people off or reversing through traffic, you can just tap your horn a couple of times to say "Hey everyone, look at me", and everything will just flow around you.
It's amazing how well this works, even in the kind of insane free-flowing traffic most Westerners would utterly lose their minds in. I enjoy it much more because it makes driving way less boring, and you get to interact with all the other drivers too. I love too that when you come to a stop sign there is no need to stop - if all the other cars in your direction are already going you just go, and the drivers at right angles to you will compensate and watch and then their direction will go and flow sometime later. Red lights - no need to stop if there is no opposing traffic, etc. etc.
I don't have statistics, though in my almost 5 years of driving in these conditions I have never once seen a fender bender, and traffic really moves way better through intersections than in developed countries where people follow the stupid rules. (Highway driving is a different story in terms of crashes and deaths in developing countries)
I'd be willing to be there are less crashes driving in big cities in developing countries than driving in big cities in developed countries.
That's not even taking into account that the numbers we have for developing countries are likely under reported.
The numbers aren't even close, developing countries are absurdly dangerous to drive in comparatively.
It definitely varies from one vehicle to another based on things like rear window size and position though, so your advice for testing makes sense.
So basically, at high speed, when it's most critical, you get more visual coverage with less motion of your head. At low speed you still have full coverage, with some head motion.
If you've ever driven in a city with many bicycles and mopeds that is simply impossible to keep track of. No matter how much situational awareness you have, they will seemingly materialize out of nowhere.
> So basically, at high speed, when it's most critical.
I disagree. The most critical is when there is greatest risk for someone to die. That is not if you collide with a car, but hit softer road users (I do not know if it's the proper English term).
City driving, there will be enough to keep track of that some times something will be unexpected. The key is to know your blind spot and check it. At highway speeds, you have plenty of time to orientate you properly with either configuration.
It doesn't help that it's often advised in the US is to lean your head towards the window/center of the car, and adjust your mirror so you can barely see the side of the car. It creates a blind spot big enough to hide a motorcycle.
The main rule is, if you can see the driver in his mirror, he can see you. You should always try to jump past the blind spots, and stay in the spots that they can see. If you have experience on the road, a lot of times you already know what a driver will do before he does it.
Cars are still OK, but trucks have plenty of blind spots, and they are pretty large. Right behind them, right in front of them (!). I'm always careful around them.
As far as motorcycles are concerned - I think they're a bad idea in general. I have a cycle endorsement, and when I ride, I am acutely aware that it's on me not to get hit, because many vehicles just realistically don't have the kind of visibility to reliably spot motorcycles. The law should probably be updated to reflect that ... because although most bikers are aware that that's how it is in reality, it's not codified anywhere.
I'm so positively gobsmacked that a statement this plainly ignorant came from a fellow HN participant, I don't even know where to begin.
Start with: bicycles are vehicles—always have been, in fact.
Pedestrians are not. Sidewalks are for pedestrians. (It's not a "sideride" after all. )
Even razor/bird scooters on sidewalks are typically forbidden—we have PSAs on the buses here in LA reminding e-scooter riders to ride in the road.
Bikes can participate in traffic, so they ought to be on the road. Bikes mix better with cars than bikes mix with pedx: anyone who walks in a city regularly would know this.
Wow. Just ... wow.
You're phrasing your conclusions like the alternative is moronic, but it's not. There are lots of places that allow bikes on the sidewalk, and it doesn't lead to martial law.
I lived in a large but suburban city that allowed it, and it was hardly a problem, bikes would yield to pedestrians, and the only problem is bikes taking the intersections too fast.
At higher densities, I've seen bikes on sidewalks in various Asian cities, including several Japanese cities with various pedestrian densities. I think these anecdotes are a fair counter to your LA anecdote.
If we follow the logic of your post, we should also ban vehicles such as electric wheelchairs from the sidewalk.
You must'a missed the subtle metaphor abuse to lighten the mood. Sorry 'bout that.
At any rate ...
Side walks haven't the width for fast moving traffic. Sidewalks cross other rights-of-way with always implied priority, traffic comprised of pedestrians, kids, dogs, old folk, etc.
I ride a bike in the city every day. I know riding on the sidewalk wouldn't work, even if you made it legal. Not at real commuting speeds.
You really advocate cyclists poking down the sidewalk at 5-8 mph, dinging their bell at every pedestrian, asking them to step aside? Or no, wait .. does the cyclist have to stop, do a track stand, and weeble-wobble around every blockage? Oh, and bunny hop over dog leashes. Hmm, yeah.
Anyone who thinks bikes should be on sidewalks has nearly zero understanding of what an urban mix of traffic works like.
Fellow cyclists, please jump in here!
If the side walk is too populated to comfortably ride a bike, and the road is busy with said suicide cans, then there is simply no place for a bike. I haven't ridden one in years. A short section of "bike lane" and a helmet wouldn't do much to convince me otherwise.
Let's first acknowledge that between mixed traffic (whatever the mix may be) collisions will happen, and then discuss how to minimize harm.
Most car-bike collisions happen at intersections and not only does riding on the sidewalk not reduce that problem, it makes it worse both because a bike on the sidewalk is not as easy for the car to see, but also it multiplies the number of intersections since suddenly every driveway becomes an intersection that a car might be pulling out of.
A bike rear-ending a pedestrian is going to be much worse than broken bones for both. A bike rear-ending a car is just going to hurt the biker.
The solution you're looking for is for people to not ride bikes if they don't want to take the risk.
I'm pretty sure sidewalk building codes are also written to assume they're not a bike path. You're more likely to run into blind corners on the sidewalk (and thus risk a collision) than a bike lane.
You've also forgotten about disabled people using the sidewalks.
Bikes are vehicles and have as much of a right to be on the road as cars do. It is car drivers' and regulators' responsibility to make cars avoid colliding with bikes, not vice versa. There are plenty of collisions between cars and big rigs on freeways, yet we don't ban cars from going on freeways, instead we insist on more stringent safety standards for big rigs.
> Let's first acknowledge that between mixed traffic (whatever the mix may be) collisions will happen, and then discuss how to minimize harm.
Sure. It's best to separate the traffic. Either build bike paths, or (if that's not an option) take lanes away from cars and make them into bike lanes (protected by curbs and bulbouts).
Only vehicles that have been built to safety and performance standards, checked for roadworthiness, been registered and insured, and are under the control of licensed operators are allowed on the road.
When bicycles accept the same responsibilities they can enjoy the right to be be on the road.
Otherwise you are not the authority on this. International law codifies cyclists' right to the road. Most large American municipalities and states explicitly state in their municipal codes that bikes have the same rights and responsibilities as other vehicles. The US federal government doesn't state that outright, but implicitly treats bikes as equal to other vehicles as well.
Here lies the body of Henry Gray,
He died maintaining his right of way.
He was right, so right, as he sped along,
But he's just as dead as if he were wrong.
A pedestrian was killed by a cyclist in my city (Perth, Western Australia) on a shared (bikes and pedestrians) path some years ago.
The argument that broken bones are the worst outcome of a cyclist-pedestrian collision is incorrect.
Apart from human error ("failed to look properly"), the second most common factor in car-cyclist collisions is whether the cyclist is entering or crossing the roadway:
In other words road crossings and riding past driveways across the sidewalk increase the risk of car-cyclist collisions considerably. As a commuting and recreational cyclist, my personal experience aligns with this strongly. Most of my close calls with cars have happened when I have been riding on a designated cycle path (separate from the road) and had to cross or enter a road.
So riding on a sidewalk that contains numerous road crossings or driveways can increase the risk of a collision for the cyclist.
In Perth we have a network of "shared paths" for use by cyclists and pedestrians. These are wide paths with a center line marking (ie they are for bidirectional use, convention is to keep left) and are separate from the roadway. Until very recently, adult cyclists were not permitted to use other sidewalks/footpaths unless they were accompanying a child cycling.
On these shared paths pedestrians always have right of way (even if they are on the wrong side of the center line). If a cyclist hits a pedestrian, the cyclist is considered to be at fault.
Well these paths are often through public parks or along scenic sections of the coast or river bank. As such they are popular places for families to take their children and to walk their dogs. Young children and dogs have no concept of "keeping left" and may do unpredictable things. As cyclists are the faster moving path users, it is their responsibility (by law) to enure they can safely pass pedestrians. Cyclists must have a warning device (bell or horn) to warn they are approaching and if it is unsafe to pass must slow down or stop until they can pass safely. Dog owners are required to keep their dogs under control (I think they may be required to use a lead by law, though many don't).
Most other sidewalks here are not designed for mixed use by cyclists and pedestrians. They may not be wide enough, have no designated center line marking, may be in front of retail or food outlets (increased pedestrian traffic with added unpredictable stopping/direction change) or have numerous driveways and road crossings.
Children, the elderly and dogs are common users of sidewalks. Children and dogs often make unpredictable moves on paths. The elderly are generally less agile (unable to take evasive action to prevent a collision), have diminished sight and hearing and are at high risk of serious injury in a fall or collision.
As a regular cyclist, I choose to ride on the road over the sidewalk as it is more efficient and safer for me and others (even though I have been hit by cars a few times). Where possible I will use a shared path, but often elect not to as they are too heavy in pedestrian traffic (coastal paths) or have numerous road crossings.
Most bike riders are far closer to the above than they are to cars. Lots of people are obese, elderly, and otherwise lacking in athletic ability. If these people are excluded from the sidewalk, then they are entirely excluded from the benefits of bike usage.
The trouble here is that bike-related laws are mainly influenced by people who are extreme bike users. These users want to be in the road. They care enough to join cycling organizations that will lobby to have bikes treated like cars. The typical bike user is a physically weak person, and they ride on something like a $39.95 bike from Walmart. The bike has overly thick knobby tires, unreliable gears if any, big fenders, and lots of low-quality (thus thick) steel. You're saying these people have no right to ride bikes if you insist that they go on the road.
The "blind spot" doesn't exist when drivers exercise proper caution and responsible driving behavior.
Of course, expecting this of drivers is unrealistically utopian. Nevertheless, a "blind spot" is just another excuse for unsafe drivers.
Not in all places. It’s highly dependent on who’s proctoring the exam. Some tests are administered by police officers and those can be extremely strict. Other times you get seriously generous people, and that needs to be fixed. Someone I know was the last test of the day for a proctor and they drove over a curb on a turn and still passed. There were quite a few of us baffled by this.
Location also depends on what gets tested. Here in MA pretty much everything gets tested (turn types, merging, all forms of parking, etc) whereas some neighboring states don’t test parallel parking.
In the training program I was at, turning your head was repeatedly drilled-in in every driving/observation session. Making sure you mirrors were set up for optimal maximum coverage was also tested. There was no shortage of not-ending-well stories related to blind spots and not checking all sides repeatedly.
Driving tests vary state to state, though. And I agree with you that overall, driver education in the U.S. is woeful. I didn’t even have to parallel park for mine! Meanwhile Scandinavians have to prove they can recover from a slide to even get a license.
Not entirely accurate, at least not when I did it. You do have to go take the slide test, otherwise you're not actually eligible for even taking the driving test. The slide test isn't so much a test though, but more of a forced (albeit very fun) experience to get you to experience first hand what it's like to hit a patch of ice or pool of water and all of a sudden lose all traction. It used to be a way to teach people to simulate ABS brakes as well, but I think nowadays that might be less relevant since pretty any car has them.
If you took the test in the summer time the sliding was simulated by some pretty interesting contraption that had wheels that would just point in whatever direction you where going, and at the instructors command would lift the car of the ground to remove traction. Somewhat like suddenly putting the car in a shopping cart at full speed. It's a lot of fun, when done in a controlled environment!
I wonder if it's possible to retake this test every year or so. As it stands you have to renew the license every ten years, but you never have to take another test once you have it. You just send in a new photo basically. I can tell that I'm most likely a worse driver now than I used to be, at least in some situations, and I don't really keep up with changes in traffic regulations. (Signaling requirements in roundabouts have changed apparently, I had no idea.) Sometimes I think maybe we should have a mandated refresher course every few years, with another slide test refresher as well, just to keep up with things. Modern cars are basically sci-fi space ships now I feel, half the time I wonder if I'd even be able to drive with all the assistive technology that's in there..
Here the ADAC offers a Fahrsicherheitstraining (safe driving training) which includes similar exercises (e.g. evading an obstacle while experiencing aquaplaning).
I never had to parallel park, either, for my test, but I also will never parallel park unless I travel 4+ hours away from my home.
I did have to prove I could control/stop a skid on gravel, and make a decision on whether to pull onto the soft shoulder or pass or stop or whatever on a narrow lane. Because there is much gravel and huge machinery moving around here on back roads.
A lot of the US has snow and ice too.
Many areas of the south have considerable issues with poor traction. Heavy rainfall after a long dry spell typically disturbs the accumulated contamination on the road surface, creating a sudden and drastic reduction in friction. Dust deposited by desert winds can be almost as slippery as ice. The infrequency of these conditions mean they pose a particular hazard, because drivers lack experience in dealing with them.
It's not the recommended practice in Romania, you're supposed to only rely on your side-mirrors and partly on your rear-view mirror without completely turning your head from the direction you're going (i.e. forward).
I'd say that this is the better solution for Bucharest's streets, where there's a much bigger chance of a pedestrian suddenly hopping in front of your car from between two parked cars on the side of the road, and as such it's better for the driver to almost always be attentive at what's in front of the car compared to what's on his/her sides.
I myself failed to do it once, on the test for turning right after crossing through a bicycle lane on my right. Every other maneuver, I checked over my shoulder. Felt bad because I used to commute via bicycle and it was...well, a little ironic that I messed up there of all places.
Agreed, though. The US driving test is pathetic.
However, in California, cars are not supposed to "turn right across another straight-ahead lane to the right", they are supposed to merge safely into the bike lane and turn right from the bike lane, letting any bikes behind pass the car on the left.
Just have the cyclist ride in the right-most lane available for traffic. Then there are no crossing movements to deal with. Cars making a right turn will either be directly ahead of the cyclist or directly behind the cyclist.
In San Francisco, we only did a few turns and that was it. Not even any form of parking or three point turns.
Granted, I should have known better how to work the defrost function in the car.
The problem is that your attention isn't riveted on the mirrors at all times.
If you have been sternly monitoring the mirrors in the previous fraction of a minute, then such a hypothesis does hold.
In road tests, you have to do everything by the book, though.
They want to see that you've developed the habit of checking. The habit will save you that time when your don't-have-to-do-it hypothesis happens to have a flaw.
This is mitigated by what pilots call their "scan" or "flow" (I've heard both terms).
Pilots follow a visual path around the instruments to ensure they refresh their awareness of critical values and system states (airspeed, ascent rate, engine parameters, etc.) at appropriate intervals¹.
I argue that drivers should have a similar flow to maintain constant situational awareness, and side mirrors are a key element in such a pattern.
I also have a pre-drive checklist that I call the "Six Ls" —
Lights (obvi), Locks (obvi) , Levels (fuel, oil press, electrical supply, etc.), Laps (seat belts), Load (cargo secured?), Loud (radio down/pax calm).
¹—With automatic alerting in modern planes this arguably is not strictly needed, but pilots start in small, simple planes before moving up the tech stack and it's a good practice at any level.
Pilots don't have the problem of a child jumping into their path from between parked cars.
They can fly blind in a complete fog, by instruments.
In a car, your attention should be mostly toward the front. The rear action deserves attention, but not a lot; just a glance every few seconds.
There are times in driving when what is happening rearward is very important and deserves a lot of attention; it's generally good to keep those to a minimum.
Well, sure, no one is going to be perfect, but similarly, no one is going to always check over their shoulder.
> In road tests, you have to do everything by the book, though.
Of course. I expect proctors to do things by the book. That's easier and more consistent than trusting each proctor's judgment. My complaints about the test methodology were in jest, but I do think what I did was not in any way unsafe.
Plenty of people do. I do. You make it a habit so it's not something you even think about. Or put another way, it's like brushing your teeth--it's something you do because not doing it makes you uncomfortable. (And as someone who had to develop the habit of brushing as an adult rather than being trained as a young child by attentive parents, I know it's possible to develop such habits belatedly.)
I've found that in modern cars the B pillars are so far forward and wide that the value of the blind spot check is diminished. In my 2018 mid-sized SUV I have to stretch so far to see the blind spot that in heavy freeway traffic I feel like I'm taking my eyes off the road ahead for too far long. So I'm on the fence on the turning the head thing and suspect some day soon pervasive collision avoidance systems will definitively settle the matter, though I'm not sure I'll ever be able to break the habit myself.
But it's definitely a mistake to think that it's not practical to consistently do something as simple as checking your blind spot. It's perhaps one of the few driving tasks that one can reasonably expect to perform with near perfect consistency, even during emergency situations like when you're tempted to veer to avoid a rapidly approaching road hazard.
What I mean is that "check your mirrors" and "look over your shoulder" are equally easy to follow. I didn't look over my shoulder because I had checked my mirrors and was extremely confident there was no car in my blind spot. I still have a rule that I follow all the time.
But if you don't check every single time, you will eventually make a mistake and hit another car.
It is the same rationale about never pointing a gun at another person. Even if you are 100% sure that it is not loaded.
I don't really follow that logic. If I check every single that it's necessary to check, by definition that is adequate. Of course I'm not genuinely bothered that the driver test proctor scored me by-the-book, I'm sure that's much easier and more consistent for them and it probably rarely makes a difference between pass or fail. But I also don't think I was driving in any way unsafely in that instance.
Checking is far more reliable.
You have to properly configure your side mirror in order to eliminate blind spots in most cars. With a side mirror configured like in the article, you can see everything beside you by sweeping your head just a few inches. This works extremely well, even in a car like a modern Camaro, which has little mirrors, slit windows, enormous b-pillars and a door sill that's higher than most peoples' shoulders.
Using your technique in a car like this will not work for anyone under 6'4 -- which is why so many people complain about the Camaro having visibility of a tank. They use the wrong, old fashion way of checking over your shoulder, rather than relying on properly configured mirrors, which is what I do and have no complaints about side visibility.
Also, a Camaro doesn't have B-Pillars the way a sedan or crossover does. I suppose they technically may be B-Pillars, but their rear (whether they are considered B or C) pillars are placed where a traditional C-Pillar goes in a 4-door vehicle.
Additionally, as I've mentioned elsewhere in the thread, checking over your shoulder should always be done in conjuction with checking your mirrors. Mirrors first, head check 2nd. Checking over your shoulder is a tried and true method of verifying that the space to the side and rear of your vehicle is clear. It is safe and effective.
Source: recently learned to drive in the UK and this is how the instructor taught me and is standard teaching here
Properly adjusting your mirrors doesn't mean that you never turn your head and look over your shoulder, but that you don't have to do it nearly as often.
That's good, because physically turning your head is an incredibly slow and risky operation when compared to a glance.
My personal rule of thumb is at least 1 car length for every 10mph I'm traveling at, so at 70mph >= 7 car lengths between me and the vehicle in front of me.
It is a very risky operation if you drive in a congested city where pedestrians can hop in front of your car at any one moment. I think that is not the case in the US but in other parts of the world if you take your eyes off from the forward-going direction then you risk hitting someone who has just appeared in front of your car out of nowhere.
Those who study human reaction times figure that from the time something happens, you notice and you get your foot physically moved to the brake and push hard enough to make a difference 1.75 seconds have passed. Thus 2 seconds is a minimum.
I find it a little easier to use distance to maintain this over time, because I can always see how far ahead of me the car is, but to measure by time takes landmarks and it's much harder to get a real accurate time measurement. In any case, I tend to err a little on the high side regarding distance for this reason.
I give as much space as I possibly can in following distance without impeding traffic, but not less than 1cl/10mph.
For example, if someone merges in front of me at approximately 3 car lengths at 65mph, I'm not going to slam on my brakes to increase the gap, then gun it back up to speed. That's dangerous. I'm going to get off the throttle, maybe brake a bit, and let the gap grow out before reapplying power, which gives me reasonable protection without endangering me too much. This is also much more predictable for cars behind me, which again is safer.
Not every situation is in perfect compliance with the rules. My goal is to maximize my safety, predictability, and compliance without causing traffic problems for others. That's why it's a rule of thumb. It's not written in stone, but it's a good guideline to start.
When traffic is both fast and heavy and with the potential to completely stop fast enough to engage abs, randomly, every few miles, anything you can do to shorten the quick look the better.
I have done this with my mirrors for a year or so and it’s been a big help. I still dart a glance when I feel safe enough, but there are times when it isn’t safe.
I am careful to give a blink on my signal before moving over and I try to change at a speed where if I’ve made a mistake, someone has time to dodge or honk.
Soon we will have trained an entire generation to 'drive-by-sensors' and not senses.
Each year, cars become more and more insulated and isolated from the reality of driving, which is incredibly dangerous. Technology is exascerbating(sp?) this problem. As you say, driving via sensors rather than senses.
People must understand _what_ the car is doing in order to really know how to drive safely and competently. Lower-tech cars force people into this.
Why? I get that there is going to be a lot of missing sensors, but the automatic transmission is now so ubiquitous that it makes no sense to require you not to. I understand it's a nice additional skill, but in the modern era it in no way proves/disproves one's ability to function on the roadway. In fact, once these sensors all become as equally ubiquitous, there will be very little argument to be made against them as well. Might as well make an argument that you everyone should drive a Benz Patent Motor Car just to really "feel" the car.
It's not about some pretentious "feel" like porsche-bros espouse. It's about engagement and forming good habits so drivers are more self aware and self sufficient on the road.
That was my point though. When driving a manual, your hands are either A) on the wheel, or B) one on wheel, other shifting gears. You can't really do much else. Maybe drink coffee if you're sitting in the same gear over distance, but in suburban traffic with stop lights and signs and turns, you can't afford to do much more than drive, shift, and execute maneuvers like lane changes, turns, etc.
There's far less opportunity to do things like text, read, rubberneck, etc. I.E. Devote more attention to what's happening outside.
It keeps you more focused on the car at lights and turns, but that might be a bad thing. I want to be focused on the cross traffic, not my engine.
I don't understand, they are still steering the craft, as well as adjusting it's speed. You haven't removed any of the important requirements for driving - being able to steer the vehicle and modify it's velocity. The ability to use a clutch and change gears simply compounds the difficulty of that exercise, it doesn't cause the driver to necessarily engage with the car in a way affects the drivers skill, it may have a higher skill floor, but it doesn't really make for a higher performance ceiling.
A bad driver isn't thwarted by a stick shift. They'll do the bare minimum to keep the car on the road. These drivers are notoriously bad at selecting gears, so they usually solve that issue buying diesel-powered cars with a more forgiving power curve.
Additionally, manual cars are far more ubiquitous in the UK than they are in Canada (where I live now) and the US (at least, as far as I know). Because of this pretty much everyone learns on a manual car.
That's totally fine and totally fair. Manual cars do take additional skill to operate. My argument is that those skills don't make you a better driver overall. If you were to put a manual and automatic driver in an automatic car, the manual driver won't necessarily be the better driver by virtue of their being able to shift gears.
This hypothetical situation is part of the learning process. That is the point. People __learn__ to drive without the assists. Not to all of a sudden revoke a current drivers' ability to use them.
This would help educate drivers in their formative stage in order to reduce the number of "bad drivers" on the road later.
I honestly believe that driver safety will approve more rapidly when that happens than ever before.
I trust silicon more than I trust meat.
I'm halfway onboard with you. The difference is in what I trust it to do. I trust meat more than silicon when meat is driving attentively and safely. There are many drivers out there with fantastic control of their vehicle, especially in bad situations.
The other half is that I don't trust meat to actually drive attentively and safely. I trust silicon to actually drive safely, unlike people.
The only time a peek would put you in the danger you describe is if you're tailgating or exceptionally slow at peeking.
The method in the article doesn't eliminate the blind spot, just puts it in a place that's easier to see.
I wish people had to get a license for a moped/motorcycle before a license for a car. It would make the roads a lot safer, I think.
With the mirrors adjusted properly, a shoulder check to change lanes becomes more of a "shoulder peek", meaning you don't have to turn your head so far. That means your peripheral vision will still provide a view in front of you - no "blind spot" in front of you either, meaning less chance of rear-ending a vehicle that has suddenly stopped.
Note that no matter where you turn your head, you have blind spots, caused by the roof pillars of the vehicle. You also can't see a portion of the ground around your vehicle; that's also blind spots.
Blind spots are real; they are not just excuses.
I'm gonna cover my interior with mirrors. It should be standard.
For one thing, if one day it stopped working for some reason, how would you know?
How well does it actually work when it works as designed?
The one bearing the responsibility is you, not that warning device.
"The driver is responsible for driving safely. Always be sure to check the surroundings with your eyes when changing lanes or reversing the vehicle.
The system is designed to assist the driver to change lanes or reverse safely by monitoring the rear and side areas of the vehicle. However, you cannot rely on this system alone in assuring the safety during a lane change or reversing. Overconfi- dence in this system could result in an accident and lead to serious injury or death. Since the system operation has various limitations, the flashing or illumination of the BSD/RCTA approach indicator light may be delayed or it may not operate at all even when a vehicle is present in a neighboring lane or approach- ing from either side.
The driver is responsible for paying attention to the rear and side areas of the vehicle."
If you look into your car mirrors, there is a blind spot in your vision. To see things in your blind spot, you need to move your head (since you can't move your mirror "eyes" every time you look). It's physics, not an excuse.
You might think it is safe to operate a multi-ton death machine at death speeds while closing your eyes or looking backwards or whatever you're doing except looking forward.
But it is not.
Learn to use mirrors, so your peripheral vision remains on the most important thing: where you are going.
"Turning your head" is an unsafe way to avoid having properly set mirrors.
With properly set mirrors, one does not need to "turn your head" and stop looking where your car is going.
Frankly, "Turning your head" is just another excuse for unsafe drivers. Eyes forward and on the road my friend!
A quick, over-the-shoulder check is not dangerous at all if a driver gives the car in front proper following distance. Too many people follow WAY too closely, especially at highway speeds.
Lastly, safe driving includes both actions. Step 1 is to check your mirrors (first rear, the side views). Step 2 is to quickly check over the shoulder. Step 3 is to make the maneuver.
As a motorcyclist, I have to be vastly more aware and defensive than cagers, because a little fender-bender for drivers means injury and even death for riders. It is hammered into you, at any motorcycle safety course (by Moto Police no less, who spend all day riding motorcycles, every day) that you should always check over your shoulder before making lane changes, turns, etc. This is always done after you have already checked your mirrors.
When moving between lanes it's important to have no blind spots and to ensure safety before moving: which is what this article and anyone basically competent with mirrors does.
It's rank irresponsibility for me to stop focusing on the direction in which I am operating a multi-ton death machine simply because I am afraid of trusting the equipment I have.
As a motorcyclist, you should also know that being rear-ended by inattentive drivers is a huge and dangerous risk that is nearly impossible for you to prevent. While you can see and move out of the way of a bad lane change, it's vastly more difficult for you to see and move out of the way of a car that isn't stopping.
This, and so many other reasons, are why it is so important for car drivers to NEVER LOSE ATTENTION TO THE FRONT. Ever, for any reason.
Use all your mirrors, and consider a shoulder check when it’s not safe to rely on your mirrors alone – for example, to check any blind spot when reversing, moving off from the kerb, joining a motorway or leaving a roundabout.
It is physically impossible to achieve all-round visibility using only the mirrors. The coverage angle of your mirrors and your effective field of view do not sum to 360 degrees. You will have at least two blind spots to the side, two A-pillar blind spots to the front and in many cars additional rear blind spots.
Try it for yourself - sit in the driver seat of your car in a safe open space, then ask someone to slowly walk around the car in an outward spiral. It should become readily apparent that at certain angles and distances, they disappear from view entirely unless you turn your head.
In my car, I have properly set my mirrors and there is no functional blind spot. When a vehicle is leaving my rear view, it is entering the side view. There is no gap between these two events.
I'm always gobsmacked that the vast majority of drivers are literally incompetent at mirror use.
It's shocking that you would claim that it's impossible to not have a blind spot when this article and simple testing would prove you wrong.
I would urge you to try your OWN experiment AFTER reading this article, digesting it, and practicing it.
49 CFR 571.111 Rear visibility
S5.2 Outside rearview mirror - driver's side.
S5.2.1 Field of view. Each passenger car shall have an outside mirror of unit magnification .
'Unit magnification' mirror means a plane or flat mirror with a reflective surface through which the angular height and width of the image of an object is equal to the angular height and width of the object when viewed directly at the same distance except for flaws that do not exceed normal manufacturing tolerances.
S5.4.2 Each convex mirror shall have permanently and indelibly marked at the lower edge of the mirror's reflective surface, in letters not less than 4.8 mm nor more than 6.4 mm high the words “Objects in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear.”
Although I guess all you would need to do to see your own car in the mirror would be to lean to the side a bit... so maybe not a big deal.
What boggles my mind is that some modern cars still have abnormally large ones. Cars with bad crash ratings get shat on but apparently designs with massive blindspots are totally OK.
Is it just that there's no institutional rating of this sort of thing? I can't imagine that insurers would leave that stone unturned. Or is it really that it makes less of a difference than I'd believe?
The ADAC gives school grades and explanations of the visibility for tested cars; most cars get shit-tier grades. E.g. the BMW X1 gets a straight 5.0 (fail) for rear view and 3,5 overall.
Many cars cannot be safely reversed alone without having a backup camera — which is often an extra feature.
The latter has saved the neighbor's car door a number of times.
It doesn't because, when you turn your head, your view behind you will be blocked by the B-pillar of the car. It's actually better to look in the side mirror to check for cyclist before opening the door.
It's actually better to teach cyclists to not ride within 6 feet of a parked vehicle.
As noted, however, motorcycles can draw up unseen. But more often, when it fails, it's a car two lanes over to my rear that changes lanes towards me at the same time I do. it can go completely unseen. So I always do a head check, time permitting.
I also have had more surprise cars coming up next to me than motorcycles, because they're so rare and they don't come ut in the winter.
If this is done correctly, as a vehicle is coming up on, say, the left of you, as it is leaving your rear view mirror, it's entering the side view mirror. It should actually be in BOTH mirrors simultaneously. There's no blind spot.
I made some tests when I first started. I parked my car parallel to the street and observed when cars move from behind they move out of the rear view mirror and start appearing in side mirror before wholly disappear from rear view mirror.
With bicycles it is more difficult, not all parts of bicycle are easy to spot. If you just get a rear part or front wheel in the mirror you might miss it (it may be below your vision if you have SUV or have mirrors set bit high). For this reason I have my side mirrors set low, which also aides backing up when parking.
It is also important to look at your mirrors correctly. If you look for things moving faster than you, which is most of the time (for example when you are changing lanes or looking for cyclists when turning right) then you need to first look into the rear view mirror and then to side mirror, in that order.
I taught myself to scan all mirrors constantly when driving to have a map of all cars and their relative positions and velocities around me. It is tiring at the beginning but it means I am rarely surprised by normally moving cars (ie. not doing any stupid manouvers). It is very helpful when you need to suddenly swerve and you can frequently anticipate problems other drivers have and accommodate.
So I turn my head when merging, to clear that area.
(Perhaps I have my side mirror pointing further "back" than the article?)
I disagree with that though, for two reasons:
1. You don't eliminate the blind spot, only shrink it. Depending on your car, the FoV of the mirrors, and the size of the other vehicle, you might still have a large enough blind spot so that your peripheral vision doesn't have it once it leaves the side mirror.
2. It risks creating an even more dangerous blind spot behind you (the one between the mirror views). Maybe not large enough for a car, but definitely for a motorcycle. This one is much harder to catch even if you turn your head.
I think every driver should turn their head, always.
I've more than once been signaling a merge and had the car two lanes over attempt the opposite merge right into the space I'm signaling into, often when I'm already partially in it, without signaling. I'm very wary of merging next to someone now for that reason.
It had a better field of view than the mirror, and made it very easy to see if there's a bike or pedestrian beside you. Since it was just a rental, out of habit I still turned my head to look, but it seemed like a useful. I think it even flashed and beeped a warning if there was someone in the blind spot, but that may have only worked for cars.
I think these systems should be required for trucks and other large vehicles that have a large blind spot.
They don't teach it in Wisconsin. Nor do they teach how to use blinkers, or to deal with multiple people coming up to a stop sign controlled intersection.
But I digress.
In driving school, I was taught to adjust my side mirrors exactly the way described here: rear view mirror points to rear, side mirrors just barely show the side of the car. And still there are blind spots in every car I've driven, no matter how much "fine tuning" I do.
This is why blind spot warning systems are a must in any new car I consider buying.
The instructions in this post are great and I'm going to follow them the next time I get in my car. Still, I hope Toyota and other manufacturers start making pedestrian detection systems and blind spot information systems standard in all vehicles soon.
As mentioned in other comments, what you seen in side mirrors are for situational awareness. When performing a manoeuvre, turn your head around to get the best view.
The Geometry of Automotive Rearview Mirrors - Why Blind Zones Exist and Strategies to Overcome Them