Sharp rise in blind spot crashes

13.04 | 27 September 2011 | | 9 comments

The number of crashes caused by blind spots has risen by almost 50% over the last two years, a study has found (Telegraph).

An analysis of 50,000 crashes by Accident Exchange, a crash management company, has uncovered a 48% rise between 2009 and 2011.

According to the Telegraph report, the problem has been partly caused by more stringent safety requirements imposed by the European Union. With cars now being built of lighter materials they need to be reinforced to provide protection in the event of a crash. This has led to a thickening of pillars, which can result in poor visibility.

A number of manufacturers are now devising new safety measures to minimise the problem. Volvo and Mercedes have blind spot cameras that flash a warning onto the car mirror if they detect another vehicle.

Robert Gifford, executive director of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS), said: “All drivers need to be aware that every vehicle has its blind spots and that these will always be different. That is why some car manufacturers such as Volvo have developed blind spot information systems.

“There is a trade-off between occupant protection and all-round visibility. Drivers need to make sure that improvements in their safety do not compromise the safety of others.”

Andrew Howard, the AA’s head of road safety, added: “Lane changes collisions are the result of a number of factors.

“Drivers need to check their mirrors and look over their shoulder to ensure that they have covered any potential blind spots.”

“An increase in motorway lanes coupled with congestion has led to more undertaking so drivers need to expect the unexpected and look out for undertakers.

“More solid vehicle structures and an increase in left hand drive trucks also contribute to side swipes.”

Click here to read the full Telegraph report.


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    That’s not the only way, Dan. Another way is not to deliberately increase the size of blind-spots, possibly leading to collisions (the subject of the article).

    Gareth, yes. That may be why it is safer to drive a RHD car in GB.

    Andrew, is it sufficient to say that dangerous blind spots deliberately created into car design by law is a “fact of life”?

    If we genuinely wish to save lives, should we not reverse the laws that have created the dangerous blind spots?

    My view is we should design technology for real people in the real world, and not try to alter the people to fit the technology we create.

    Dave Finney – Slough
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    The only way to reduce the amound of accidents caused by blindspots and other driver errors is through assessment and education. I work as a driver trainer for a massive logistics company. We assess each of our drivers initially in the recruitment phase, then annually after employment. If drivers are found to be under the required standard when assessed they are taken off the road until they have been given tuiton by a registered instructor such as myself. They don’t drive a company vehicle until the required standard is reached.

    My Grandmother is in her mid 80’s and has been driving for over 60 years. A lot has changed over the years, how are people expected to keep up to date with changes in the highway code and accepted driver standards if they are not educated any further after taking the original test.

    The government need to look into periodic assessment/testing of all drivers. If you had to take an assessment lets say every 5 years and pass a refresher test, your standard of driving and more importantly observation would improve. This would surely lower accident rates, aswell as other lesser factors such as reducing insurance premiums due to less payout costs. With less accidents on the roads there would be less congestion, less and subsiquently less Co2 emissions.

    Dan – Wakefield
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    I own a German registered vehicle which is making trips to the UK on a very regular basis. At most roundabouts, sitting on the left hand side, your passenger is your biggest blind spot!

    Early planning, mirror, signal manoeuvre with special emphasis on understanding and acting on your blind spots makes for a safe journey.

    Sound familiar? I hope so as this was the way we were all taught to drive in our UK driving test.

    Gareth – Epsom & Brussels
    Agree (1) | Disagree (0)

    On a tangent maybe but there is another cause of accidents due mainly down to poor or bad car development and manufacturing.

    It has been spoken about checking mirrors etc but how many know that they are getting a deliberate false picture of traffic travelling behind them.

    The only true picture of what is actually happening behind a car is through the interior mirror as it doesn’t distort the distance behind that any vehicle may be.

    If one is on a dual carriageway or motorway and wish to move into the offside lane one looks into the offside mirror which gives a totally false indication of the distance of a vehicle on the rear offside, by a factor of one and a half.

    If you have just overtaken and you wish to return into the nearside lane again then you look through the nearside mirror and the same applies but even worse. It shows the vehicle you have just overtaken being some distance away by a factor of 2 from reality. Believing it to be a correct [but false] distance behind you pull in and immediately the car behind will be tailgaiting you.

    How often have you been overtaken on the motorway and the car in front has, when 20/25ft in front pulled in in front of you, without reason. It’s because he sees you maybe 50ft away or even further.

    I know that all information re mirrors is contained in a handbook but it’s probably 2 lines in about 500 pages.

    And finally the point about white van man he has no interior mirror so his judgement is already faulty as he has to look at you through external mirrors only.

    I hope that this rant has not gone on to long and that maybe, just maybe, someone will look at this and we can better understand why some collisions [accidents] happen.

    Bob Craven, Lancs
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    George, I am not surprised to seea comment such as yours – of course people are taught to check over their shoulder before moving off AND it is specifically checked on the driving test. But the danger of the blind spot here is the blind spot in front of the driver more than the one behind. And of course it applies to all drivers not just ones who have recently passed their test.

    Andy, Warwick
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    Two quick points:

    1. Thicker pillars are a fact of life currently – drivers might consider keeping the left hand side of the windscreen completely clear. Only the tax disc should be there, anyway, and there is no reason why it should not be placed at the TOP left – an area that is rarely used by the driver. Max height, however, is 6ft.

    2. A tip from the late Paul Smith: don’t try to look around the pillar – lean forward.

    Andrew Fraser
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Yes, but isn’t that a theoretical response to the real world?

    Suppose an engineer designs a product that may save some lives, but she knows the negative side effects may kill more than the product saves?

    If the product is put into production and more lives are lost, can the engineer use a defence of “people don’t respond correctly. The product does save lives so the extra deaths are their fault, people need to be trained to respond differently”.

    Or IOW, it would work in a theoretical world, but the real world is different.

    As I say, I noticed this fault (or issue) as soon as I drove such a vehicle and it simply adds a major hazard that needs constant vigilance to avert a collision.

    And people will make mistakes.

    Dave Finney – Slough
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    In all fairness, are drivers looking properly? Isn’t the habit of looking over one’s shoulder taught during lessons any more? Or are some drivers taught to pass the test and not to drive.

    George, Selby
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Possibly a good example of “unintended consequences” that permeate road safety.

    I started noticing this several years ago when hiring cars on holiday but the article says due to “lighter materials”.

    Cars are getter a lot heavier, a hot hatch was under 900kg (205 1.6 GTi), then around 1000kg about 5-10 years ago and now over 1200kg.

    And it’s not just the “thickening of pillars”, more importantly they are at a shallower angle. I found not just cyclists and motorcyclists in that blind spot, entire cars could be completely hidden!

    And isn’t this due to new rollover tests, a cause of death that’s very rare?

    Dave Finney – Slough
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

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