Advanced system to adjust blind spot mirror
The federal government doesn't track crashes specifically caused by drivers failing to see other vehicles in their blind spots. The closest it can come is a category called "failure to keep in proper lane or running off road," said National Highway Traffic Safety Administration spokesman Eric Bolton. Those reasons were a factor for 16,470 drivers involved in fatal crashes during 2006, the latest year available, according to the NHTSA's Web site.
Federal standards require that a vehicle's rear-view mirror provide the driver with a certain field of view. To meet the requirement, manufacturers often use a convex mirror on the passenger side. It gives a broader view where most vehicles create an area of reduced visibility, frequently called the blind spot.
"Drivers cannot merge onto a freeway or change lanes safely with standard equipment side view mirrors," states the Automobile Safety Foundation, which is taking aim at this driving safety crisis by launching the "Safe Mirrors Now!" public awareness campaign in support of side view mirror attachments designed to reveal the "blind spot."
Nearly every minute of every day, there is an accident on the road as a direct result of a defective standard equipment side view mirrors that harbor a blind spot that prohibits safe lane changes. 160,000 people per year, many of them young and inexperienced drivers, are injured as a direct result of blind spot related accidents. And yet, the problem of these accidents can be easily solved by making just one small modification to your car: the application of an inexpensive adhesive "blind spot mirror."
Why we have two different kinds of mirrors on our cars? Why is the passenger-side different from the driver-side mirror? For most drivers there's a lingering doubt when changing lanes on the freeway: Did I miss a car in the blind spot?
State Police Lt. Gary Megge of the Traffic Services Division in Lansing said many people think lower speed limits mean safer travel, but "that's absolutely not true" in some cases. Lower speeds can make a road less safe if they add to congestion, increase the range of speeds or spur tailgating, lane changes and passing maneuvers, he said.
"That tells me that potentially this could have an effect on nearly 9 percent of the traffic crashes in Michigan," he said. "People don't just change lanes when they know somebody's there. When these sideswipe same (direction) crashes occur, people don't see the other car."
Blind spots are inherent in vehicle design, and manufacturers are studying ways to alleviate these conditions, particularly because baby boomers are growing old (and stiffer) en masse. The blind spots could be eliminated if manufacturers removed the side pillars that hold up the roof and made rearview mirrors that wrapped around a vehicle.
Given those impossibilities, some automakers have developed systems that use radar or video cameras to try to compensate for the realities of geometry and the limits of human sight.
From early next year, Ford will be fitting its new innovation -- the Blind Spot Mirror -- on to various Ford, Mercury and Lincoln models as standard equipment -- with no addition to the sticker price. Instead of looking into a defective mirror that conceals vehicles in a blind spot, drivers can now be confident that they can make a safe lane change while making a statement to other drivers about driving safety.
Ford has introduced two new features designed to improve drivers' road vision: the Blind Spot Mirror and the Cross Traffic Alert. The mirror has an integrated convex spotter mirror aimed directly at the vehicle’s blind spot, and the monitoring system has radar which alerts the driver about cross-path traffic. These devices will hopefully help protect drivers and prevent accidents. Early drive clinics conducted by Ford show that the Blind Spot Mirror is popular with customers: nearly 76 percent of the participants said the mirror improves their confidence while driving. In addition, the learning curve or adjustment to the function of the spotter mirror was minimal.
Starting early next year, Ford Motor Co. will try to eliminate that doubt. It will begin installing side-view mirrors on its vehicles that show the blind spots in the outside upper corners.
Volvo XC70's Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) use BLIS senses when a vehicle in the next lane is approaching or in the area you can't see in your side mirrors. It works on either side of the car, and a red warning light comes on near the mirror on the appropriate side to let you know.
General Motors (G.M.)
General Motors’ Side Blind Zone Alert system, available in certain Cadillac and Buick models, also uses radar to scan the rear and sides of the vehicle. The system sweeps outward 11 1/2 feet to the sides and 16 feet to the rear; a vehicle in the blind-spot zone will cause a light embedded in the mirror to illuminate. When the directional signal is used, the light flashes amber.
Some normal tips can make big difference to adjust blind spot mirror:
After a vehicle is located in the blind spot, it is recommended to avoid lane changes until the vehicle has passed. No aftermarket product is a substitute for driver skill and knows how. Drivers must properly adjust their new blind spot mirror, and become accustomed to using it. If you adjust your right and left mirrors so that you can't see the side of your car without leaning far to the right or left, you will just about eliminate blind spots. It takes a little getting used to, but it works.
According to motor safety expert for eliminating rear-view mirror blind spots; start by setting your rear-view mirror as you normally would. Then, lean your head all the way to the left so it touches the driver's window. From that position, set your left side-view mirror so you can see the back corner of your car. Now lean the same distance the other way, and set your right side-view mirror the same way. Driving with the mirrors this way takes some getting used to. You have to learn to rely on your rear-view mirror first.
Check for blind spots by doing the following: While driving along a four-lane road in the right lane, note a vehicle in the left lane coming up to pass you from behind. Without moving your head, glance in the rear-view mirror and follow it as it approaches your car in the left lane. Just before it disappears from your view in the rear-view mirror, glance to the left side mirror. There it is. Now follow that vehicle in the side mirror as it begins to pass you. Then, just before it disappears from the side mirror, you should see it with your peripheral vision. Notice that without even turning your head, you never had a blind-spot. Then try it with the right side mirror. Watch as you pass a vehicle travelling in the right lane goes from your peripheral vision, to your right side mirror, to your rear-view mirror. If there is a blind spot for even a fraction of a second, your side mirror adjustment needs some fine-tuning.
American Trucking Associations (ATA) also Share the Road Safety Guidelines for Motorists to change lanes when you can see both of the truck's headlights in your rearview mirror. If you are following a truck and you can't see the driver's face in the truck's side mirrors, the truck driver can't see you.
The European Parliament also approved a plan to fit all trucks operating in the European Union since 2000 with blind spot mirrors in an effort to improve road safety. The blind spot mirrors will enable drivers to cover the dead angle. Current EU law requires manufacturers of all new trucks to include the rear view mirrors starting in 2007. Under the new proposal, the same equipment would have to be added to existing truck fleets. This latest directive complements an earlier one that requires that all new HGVs registered from the start of next year must be fitted with a set of additional mirrors and other "vision improvement systems" to significantly reduce a driver's blind spot.
Left-hand-drive Large Goods Vehicles (LGVs) can have a blind spot on the right hand side of the vehicle. The blind spot is between what the LGV driver can see in his mirrors and what he can see out of the front window. This is roughly alongside the cab, when the front bumper of the car is level or slightly in front of the lorry's front bumper. This means drivers of left-hand-drive LGVs are sometimes unable to fully see what is alongside them before pulling out, resulting in a spate of these incidents on East Midlands' motorways.
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