“The other car was in my blind spot!” is something heard frequently when discussing lane change or merge crashes. Knowing how to adjust and use mirrors is one of the easiest and most effective ways to prevent this type of crash.
Drivers are now becoming more accustomed to – and rely upon – technology to reduce blind spot crashes. While these are indeed great tools to aid in these situations, drivers should not rely solely on technology to prevent crashes.
This brings us back to mirrors.
Whether it’s a private passenger auto or a tractor-trailer, most blind spots can be eliminated with mirror adjustment. There are some blind spots associated with tractors that are closer to the front of the cab, but most of these can be eliminated with custom mirrors.
Many of us were taught to adjust the side mirrors to show a significant portion of our own vehicle when glancing back. This limits the field of view for the driver and leads to blind spots.
The proper way to adjust a mirror is to first adjust the driver seat where it needs to be. Lean slightly to the left, close to the driver window, and move the mirror so the rear of the vehicle is barely visible. Repeat for the passenger side mirror, leaning to your right toward the middle of the vehicle. When adjusted properly, a vehicle approaching from lanes to the left or right of the vehicle should pass directly from the side mirror to the peripheral vision of the driver.
If you haven’t done this, you might want to give it a try. You also may want to share this technique with others in your household or with your company drivers if you’re a business owner.
Remember, nothing beats the quick glance over the shoulder, but mirrors can be a driver’s best friend….and unless you’re driving an antique or classic vehicle, they come with the car.
This loss control information is advisory only and has been provided by our partners at Cincinnati Insurance Company. The author assumes no responsibility for management or control of loss control activities. Not all exposures are identified in this article.
Almost every state across the nation has some kind of law on texting while driving. Drivers know texting in the car isn’t safe and can lead to fines or jail time if they’re caught, but many have continued to do so. But they’re not fooling anyone as it’s easy to spot.
Police Bird’s-Eye View
Police driving in elevated SUVs and motorcycles have a bird’s-eye view of a driver’s hands.
Even if the driver appears to be looking forward, a phone on the steering wheel or instrument panel is one of the easiest ways for police to catch texting drivers.
The bright glow of a screen will light up an entire car when driving, particularly at night.
If the police can’t see the driver’s hands, another indicator the driver is texting is the driver is continually looking down. Drivers try to do this to hide their phone (the opposite of the last example) but can be constantly distracted from keeping their eyes on the road.
Traffic and Highway Cameras
City cameras are frequently located at the busiest intersections in the city and at lanes getting off and on the highway. Typically, these cameras are used to see if people run red lights, other traffic violations, or, in extreme cases, identifying drivers for police investigations. However, they can be and are used to catch texting drivers as well.
These methods are subject to state regulations and future testing, and although not widely implemented today, they’re useful for proving texting while driving violations:
In the case of an accident, police can consult cell phone records to see if texting might have led to the accident, thereby placing blame on the driver who was texting. In the future, some feel this could be implemented at everyday traffic stops instead of under extreme circumstances.
A text analyzer prototype is much like a police radar for texting, except instead of measuring speed it analyzes frequencies from a driver’s cell phone to see if it is being used for texting. This type of access could be subject to state privacy laws and could be subject to a required warrant.
So, what CAN you do with your phone while driving?
Check your state statutes first. Typically, drivers depending on age, may use their device as long as it’s in hands-free mode or if there’s some sort of emergency requiring the driver to use the device. Here are some examples of actions that are normally acceptable:
In hands-free mode:
Make a phone call.
Initiate, send, or listen to an electronic message.
View or operate a GPS/navigation system that doesn’t require typing while the vehicle is in motion or in traffic.
Listen to audio-based content.
Not in hands-free mode:
Obtain emergency assistance.
React to life-or-death circumstances.
What happens if you get caught?
Punishment for texting and driving typically requires some sort of proof: eyewitness testimony, admission from the driver, evidence from the phone itself, public information/social media, or information obtained through an authorized search warrant. Whatever the method, it’s best to put the phone down while driving to avoid a costly fine or jail time.