What is a blind spot?

Picture this: you’re driving along a motorway and you want to overtake a lorry. You check your mirrors, snap on your indicators, and start to shift right – only to almost crash into a vehicle whizzing up alongside you. You could have sworn it wasn’t there one second ago!
Blind spots are the areas around your car that you can’t see properly when you’re driving. They contribute to hundreds of accidents each year in the UK, making them both dangerous and costly.
So, what should you know about blind spots? What measures can you take to reduce the risks? And if you are unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident, how can impounded car insurance help you recover your vehicle? Read on for our guide.

Where are your car’s blind spots?

In a car, you can see ahead of you through the windscreen, to your sides in your wing mirrors, and behind you in the rear-view mirror. However, those views don’t quite join up to give you a 360-degree vision around your car – there are a couple of invisible areas.
In most vehicles, there are two main blind spots: on the rear left and the rear right. They can be easily big enough to block your view of another road user, such as a car, bicycle, or pedestrian.
There are also smaller ones, which depend more on the design of your vehicle. ‘Pillar blind spots’ are the areas that are obscured by the frame of your windscreen. These aren’t big enough to obscure another vehicle, but they can still mean you don’t have an entirely clear view of the road ahead.


What are some common dangerous scenarios?

So long as you’re driving forwards in one lane, blind spots aren’t a major risk. Yes, your front pillars might slightly obscure your view, but they’re usually too narrow to present much of a hazard.
However, there are several other situations where your blind spots really could put yourself or others at risk.
One dangerous scenario is when driving off after being parked by the side of the road. If you just rely on your side and rear-view mirrors, you could easily miss another vehicle, cyclist or motorcyclist in your blind spot.
Similarly, changing lanes is risky. You might check your mirrors, think it’s safe, and begin to pull out – only to hear a horn blaring from a vehicle you hadn’t seen. Hopefully, you’ll be able to slot swiftly back into your lane without any damage done.
Merging two lanes of traffic is another tricky situation: drivers need to be aware of blind spots on either side of their vehicle. It’s easy to get flustered!
And reversing can also be hazardous. In a car park, there could be children, dogs or any number of other hazards running around while you try to manoeuvre – it can seem like they come out of nowhere!
Hopefully, if you’re caught up in one of the scenarios above, you will have a lucky escape rather than a serious accident. But even so, you might find yourself stopped by police on suspicion of dangerous or careless driving.
Did you know that if your car is seized by police for investigations, you’ll have to provide evidence that it’s insured before it can be released back to you? Most regular insurance policies won’t cover this, so you could well need specialist impounded car insurance.

What danger do they pose to cyclists?

The road users most at risk from vehicles’ blind spots are cyclists and motorcyclists.
For a start, they’re relatively small in comparison with a car, so it’s easy to miss them. And they’re very vulnerable, as they’re not protected by their vehicle.
But also, they often travel alongside cars – in their blind spots - rather than behind or in front of them. If a vehicle turns left – particularly without indicating or looking sideways – then it can turn directly into the biker’s body.
The biggest risk is from lorries. While they are now fitted with special mirrors and other devices – see below for more details – there are still blind spots around the body of the truck.
Lorries frequently bear signs at their rears warning road users that if they can’t see the truck’s mirrors, then the driver can’t see you. Cyclists are also warned about the dangers of riding too close to the side of a long vehicle.
And ‘advanced stop’ areas allow cyclists to stop ahead of motorised vehicles at traffic lights, reducing the risk of being caught in a blind spot when the lights go green and the queue starts to move.
You can do your bit as a driver by respecting that advanced stop line, and always looking and indicating before turning. Failure to do so could cause a serious accident, or see you stopped on suspicion of careless driving. Impounded car insurance will help you recover your vehicle if it’s taken by police during investigations.

How can I stay out of other vehicles’ blind spots?

Being aware of other road users’ blind spots can help you stay safe. The most invisible places to be are too close to the back or the rear sides of another vehicle.
Hang back before switching lanes, particularly if overtaking a long vehicle or one with no rear view, so the driver in front can see you. Then check the lane you want to move to is clear and indicate. If possible, don’t just indicate and move – give it a few seconds to make sure other drivers have seen you. Then move into the next lane and overtake as swiftly yet safely as possible.
It’s best not to stay in another driver’s blind spot for any longer than necessary. So, if you’re on a dual carriageway or motorway, don’t cruise along close to the rear side of another driver. Either overtake or fall back. Remember: you should drive in the left-hand lane (on UK roads) unless overtaking, not hog the middle or outside lanes.

How can I adjust my mirrors correctly?

To minimise your blind spots, you need to make sure your wing mirrors are positioned correctly.
Don’t angle them to show too much of the side of your car – you’ll miss seeing stuff a little further away. But make sure they’re not angled too widely either, or you could find a cyclist comes up alongside your car in your blind spot.
Instead, position them so that just a tiny portion of your car is shown in your mirrors to give you a reference point, but most of the reflection shows the road around you.


Will looking around me help?

Looking around and behind you – not just relying on the view in your wing mirrors – is essential when you’re getting ready to move out from a parked position at the side of the road. Failure to do so could mean you hit a cyclist, car, or pedestrian.
If visibility is really reduced, don’t forget to lean forward, or turn your body to get a better view. You might even need to wind down the window.
You must also look around and behind you when you’ve parked and are about to get out of your car into the road, to prevent you from opening your door into a bike or vehicle. Even better, try getting into the habit of using a ‘Dutch reach’: opening your right door with your left hand, and vice versa. This automatically twists your body round and gives you a much clearer view of the road.
But what about while driving, for example when you want to switch lanes to overtake or merge onto a fast-moving motorway? Isn’t it dangerous to take your eyes off the road ahead?
In fact, the Highway Code recommends “a quick sideways glance if necessary into the blind spot area” when overtaking. Obviously, though, your eyes should mostly be firmly on the road and the traffic ahead of you.

How can technology help?

The main ways to overcome blind spots are by being aware, and by looking carefully when manoeuvring. But modern tech can also help.
Blind spot wing mirrors give you two views of the road: your usual one, and a smaller wide-angled one. If your car doesn’t have these, you can buy a small device to stick onto your existing wing mirrors. Under EU law, lorries must be fitted with these, much reducing – but not entirely eliminating – the danger.
Blind spot monitoring systems are fitted to many modern vehicles. They use devices such as sensors or cameras to detect when another vehicle is too close and warn you about it. Some will sound an alarm or vibrate the steering wheel if you put on your indicators when it’s not safe to move lanes. And some cutting-edge models will even try to prevent you steering into a hazard.
Most modern vehicles come ready fitted with reverse parking assistance. Some use sonic technology to detect objects in the blind spot and alert the driver by beeping. Others use small cameras to scan the area immediately behind the bumper, showing the picture on a dashboard screen. There are even models which plot the car’s projected course as the steering wheel is turned, enabling drivers to carry out tricky parking manoeuvres.
But it’s important not to become over-reliant on this technology. Nothing can replace your own eyes and brain!

What else can obscure my vision in my car?

While blind spots are an unfortunate yet intrinsic part of your car’s design, there are some things you might be doing yourself which also obscure your vision.
Head rests and back seat passengers can get in the way of your line of sight when reversing or otherwise using the rear-view mirror. Front seat passengers might also block your view of your side mirror, perhaps by leaning forward to get something from the glove compartment at just the moment you are changing lanes.
Some drivers also stick things to their windscreen – think car park tickets or sat navs – or place items on the dashboard that obscure their view. One or two small things shouldn’t be too much of a visual hindrance, but an overly cluttered front area to your car is best avoided.
An overloaded boot can also mean you have no view out of your rear windscreen. While it is legal to drive like this – and many vehicles have no rear windscreen at all – you do have to adjust your driving style accordingly, making greater use of your side mirrors.
Finally, it goes without saying that you need to keep your windscreen and mirrors in great condition. Make sure they’re not dirty or damaged: debris and cracks can pose a severe hazard. Top up your screen wash, and check that your wipers are in good order.
If you don’t do any of the above, your car could fail its MOT or get stopped by police, and you might be issued with a hefty fine and points on your licence. Worse, you could be in an accident.
If your vehicle is seized by police on the grounds of careless or dangerous driving, you need specialist impounded car insurance to get it released back to you, as your standard policy might not cover you.

Get a quote from Insurance Factory today

By being aware of your blind spots, you can minimise your risk of accidents and help keep yourself on the right side of the law.
But did you know that if the police do think you’re driving dangerously, they can impound your vehicle – and not release it without evidence that it’s insured? Your usual car policy probably won’t cover you for this, so you’ll have to get a specialist product.
At Insurance Factory, we can arrange impounded car insurance for 30 or 365 days. You’ll need to show this policy to the car pound, along with any other information or payment required, to get your vehicle released back into your possession. You’re then covered for 30 days or one year of driving.
Get a quote from us today.

Policy benefits, features and discounts offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.