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Are Blind Spots a Myth?

This NY Times article is interesting. I was taught to set my mirrors as stated in the article at a corporate safe driving course. The method works. If everyone set their mirrors in the manner described it would save lives and reduce accidents. This is an attempt to spread the word. If you’ve never tried setting your mirrors in this way, please give it a try.

After adjusting your seat, move your head as close to the window glass on the driver’s side as you can. Then set the mirror so you can see down the side of the car. Next, move your head as far to the passenger side as you can and set the right side mirror so you can see down the side of the car.

When a car coming up on you from the rear leaves the view of your rear view mirror, it will show up in your side mirror. When it leaves your side mirror the front of the car is right next to your driver’s door window and you can see the car easily with your periferal vision. There is no longer a “blind spot”.


You can find this same information on the CarTalk site. It’s been there for years, and it’s been discussed on the show, and, yes, it works. Blind spots are real, but they can be minimized and sometimes eliminated by careful adjustment of the side mirrors.

I agree and have been “attempting” to keep mirrors in place. The problem for me is the amount of backing up I do in close quarters daily with and without trailers, I need the constant rear quarter reference. With power mirrors it’s not a problem, with my other trucks w/o I get “lazy”. For some it’s always an unsafe compromise.
I cringe when ever I see some one turn their head to back up but realize that when mirrors are in the safe driving position they may be useless for backing up on many cars. You can’t be in a rush and should be taught to use your mirrors correctly, even if it means constantly adjusting them.
Good post UT. If it saves a life, you’ve done more than your share by reminding us.

Please keep in mind that setting your mirrors this way is no substitute for looking over your shoulder before changing lanes.

What a lot of people refer to as “blind spots” are not the areas you can’t see with your mirrors. Blind spots are sometimes created by structural components, like the B pillars and C pillars, when you look over your shoulder. Even if you set your mirrors this way, blind spots are not a myth. They are still there. Even with your mirrors set this way, there are still areas around your car you can’t see.

Dagosa, I cringe whenever someone doesn’t turn their head to back up, especially in a car. Even truck drivers look over their shoulders when they can. That is why they almost always back up at an angle where they can look over their left shoulders. Straight line backing is easier, but you see less of your path, and blind side backing is next to impossible without getting out of the truck several times to check your path.

The worst blind spot I have to contend with are due to the A pillars. These often make it difficult to see pedestrians unless you are quite vigilant. And the town I work in has no shortage of tourists that cross at strange spots and can linger in the roadway taking pictures etc. No mirror solution to that one.

Whitey, I hear you. I didn’t make my point well. I was referring to those who back up using the over the shoulder head turn exclusively and not using the mirrors or even getting out to check the backing area. If all they do is head turn, the entire perimeter is a blind spot below the belt line. Full vision scan is always encouraged which includes mirrors, direct line of sight and yes, getting out making observations. Taking estimated measurements and transferring them to known distances with respect to what you can see from the driver’s seat, is the secret to safely stopping a tractor trailer within inches of a loading dock.

The point I did not make well is that there is in some vehicles, a contradiction between ideal mirror adjustment for backing up and safe on road driving and mirrors are not a “set and forget” feature. Wear them out…it’s should not be unusual to have a finger on the power mirror control and constantly adjusting it while backing for an operator that has the feature.

I like the option of back up and perimeter driving cameras and feel that given today’s technology and how inexpensive they can be, should be mandated for many vehicles. Sorry for the suggestion for you conservatives.

The method works for my Accord, but not for my Silhouette.

The point about mirror placement for everyday driving vs. mirror placement for backing up was well made. The only thing I would add to that is perhaps you can solve the problem by leaving them placed for backing and adding fish-eye mirrors to reduce blind spots.

Many SPOTS become BLIND due to the driver’s haste.

Sure you may have turned your head and eye-balled each mirror, but
…if you do that too fast you’ll miss something anyway !

ssslllloooowwww down and you’ll see everything.

Even with convex blind-spot mirrors, you’ll miss the fact that something is there unless you take the extra second too assess what you’re seeing there.

When training for my pilot’s license they taught a method of searching the sky for others.

– You can notice something moving…if you’re not. –

ie; hold your gaze still for a bit , then you’ll catch movement, even in your peripherals, that escape you if your eyes are moving too.

This works well with automotive mirrors as well. I back all three truck into my driveway so as I pull to the curb to prepare to swing out for backing in, I look into the yard area for two grandsons bolting about.
then swing the truck around and check the mirrors. Then ease back in reverse.
Keeping vision stationary for a second often reveals the movement I’m looking for.

Many cars have blind spots no matter how the mirrors are set. Resetting them just moves the blind spots. That’s just reality.

Fisheye (convex) spot mirrors are simply the best solution. I never leavr home without them.

I set my mirrors so the sides of the car are just out of sight - when my head is in the neutral position.
Then, I can lean a little - left or right - to see the side of the car.

I believe your method will achieve the same results as the method in the article. Whatever works!

As a sales manager part of my job was coaching defensive driving skills as my reps were all driving company leased fleet cars. Over the years I managed over 60 reps and not one of them set the side mirrors correctly before learning this method. My guess is less than 10% of the car driver’s we share the road with set their mirrors properly. Truckers seem to be much more aware of the importance of setting their mirrors properly.

I have done this for a while and it works but it takes getting used to. I cannot get use to or can stand to do this with large mirrors like on our former Astro van. I like it in smaller mirrors like my Taurus. Still, looking over the shoulder is a must.

And there are still blind spots, like the front post/ A pillar.

Agree that when backing up turning and looking over the shoulder for a view out the rear window is best. When backing a trailer I adjust the mirrors to view down the side of the car and trailer since the view out the rear window is blocked by the trailer. Readjust again before hitting the highway.

Big A pillers are a problem. I find I need to move my head when rounding some corners to see around the A pillars. Other times I just hesitate a bit longer for a second peak before moving forward and find I avoid “surprises” that way.

Unfortunately, I can’t think of anyone I know over 50 that can still twist around like this. And the median age of the population is rapidly moving over the age of 50.

And with todays deep bucket seats and headrests, I’m not sure even the younger crowd can do this looking over the shoulder movement. Unless they drive a “classic” with bench seats and no headrests.

The blind spots in my car are right over my left shoulder, the frame of the car between the drivers side window and the drivers side passenger door. That part of the frame is right next to my head. When I turn I cannot see alongside the car. The mirrors help but I want to be 100% sure so I need to look. I’ve almost hit a car several times. It’s a bad blindspot.

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“…I can’t think of anyone I know over 50 that can still twist around like this”

I can, and I exercise every day to postpone the effects of aging - I’m very fortunate that I can still exercise.

Blind spot monitors are available on some vehicles, but not many. I know the 2010 CX-7 GT model has it standard, and I believe a few Audi, Volvo or Lexus models might have it as well, but not too many have this nifty feature. Not sure how it really works, but I know they say it does

Excellent. I used to exercise every day to postpone the effects of aging…until the effects of aging kicked in and I couldn’t exercise anymore.

I have driven with the stick on mirrors mentioned by another poster, for nearly 150,000 miles, mostly highway driving. I also do not want to drive without them. There are no blind spots, except I suppose under the car if you want to nit-pick. One glance both ways and any pedestrian; motorcycle; car; or truck is instantly visible.

there is a lot of lane-changing when driving 1500 miles in two days, and I now change lanes without worry after a glance each way.

The last wreck I was in which did not involve my car dead stopped in a proper and legal manner, and being plowed into by someone else (three times) was in the early 60’s. I had been taught to drive by people who didn’t know how to drive and that one wreck was absolutely my fault, nearly 50 years ago. I made sure my kids were taught to drive correctly.