Many drivers will have experienced that gut-wrenching feeling when changing lanes on a motorway or pulling out of a parking space when they’ve almost caused a collision because another vehicle or road user behind has been hidden by a blind spot.
And a new poll by the AA has found that 44 per cent of drivers believe their car has a dangerous blind spot.
Road safety statistics suggest this is becoming an increasing issue, with almost 1,000 crashes in 2022 linked to motorists blaming the blind spot in their vehicles.
Almost half (44%) of drivers have a dangerous blind spot in their car, with one in five (22%) having a blind spot over their shoulder
Of those drivers who say their vehicle has a dangerous blind spot, just over a third (35 per cent) have had a collision or near miss because of their restricted view.
Blind spots are created by an obstructing windscreen or door pillar, or the wipers not fully sweeping the windscreen.
With modern cars needing to meet ever increasing safety standards, door pillars in particular have become thicker to improve crumple zones that protect occupants inside when there is a crash.
The downside of this is that restrict some visibility for drivers – especially when performing the over-the-shoulder check when changing lanes or pulling out of junctions and side road.
Over a fifth (22 per cent) of drivers surveyed by the motoring group said they struggled with a blind spot looking over their shoulder, either caused by a side pillar next to or just behind their head, and a further fifth say the windscreen pillar creates a significant blind spot.
And these blind spots can have fatal consequences.
Government statistics from 2022 recorded 17 fatal road collisions where a blind spot was a contributory factor.
There were 929 collisions leading to injuries, of which 1.8 per cent resulted in people being killed.
This was a the most recent year that statistics have been recorded, and worryingly the numbers were at a five-year high.
Blind spots restricting the view of drivers have been a factor in 63 road deaths and more than 1,100 serious injuries over the last five years, the AA reports
One in 10 drivers surveyed had a prong or an near-miss in a car park due to a blind spot
Tim Rankin, managing director of the AA’s Accident Assist, gives a bleak view blind spot recent crash data.
He says: ‘Over the past five years, blind spots restricting the view of drivers have been a factor in 63 road deaths and more than 1,100 serious injuries.’
‘Clearly, most drivers know where their view outside their vehicle is restricted but the threat of them failing to spot another road user remains considerable.
‘Distraction, information overload in busy driving environments and just a ‘bad day’ may lead to a driver not being as diligent as usual in checking where they know they are partially blind.’
Weather-dependent blind spots are a particularly critical issue because they come and go.
Some 6 per cent of survey participants said they have a windscreen blind spot on the front passenger’s side during heavy rain and snow.
Similarly, 5 per cent have the same problem due to road dirt in winter.
When it came the driver’s side of the windscreen, 4 per cent and 3 per cent respectively had the same issues.
And with more than one in 10 prongs happening in a car park, it’s evident that blind spots can be a real danger event at slow speeds, especially to pedestrians.
How blind spot assist can help prevent accidents
Blind spot assist is part of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). It monitors the area behind and immediately adjacent to the car to detect potential collisions and step in to prevent them
A little warning like this red triangle, usually accompanied by a noise alert will let the driver know that there is a car or hazard in the blind spot
For some years now new cars have been launching with Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), part of autonomous driving tech. These are safety systems that are designed to increase driver safety.
ADAS use cameras and sensors to detect potential collisions and alert the driver.
These can include adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking and collision warnings.
Most applicable here though is the blind spot assist function.
Blind spot constantly monitors the area behind and adjacent to your car. It’s usually an area up to 10 feet.
The assist will then actively step in and use the vehicle’s brakes and steering to prevent a collision.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Highway Loss Data Institute in America found that blind spot warning technology has provided a 23 per cent reduction in lane change crashes with injuries.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety also noted a 14 per cent lower crash involvement rate for vehicles with blind-spot monitoring than the same models without.
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