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To turn, or not to turn?
June 2, 2010 5:55 PM   Subscribe

When you are changing lanes, do you rely only on you mirrors, or do you physically turn your head to check? If you turn your head, how far do you turn it?

I am (finally) learning to drive at age 35. Three of my friends are teaching me; all are good drivers with over 20 years driving experience each. One inconsistency in my lessons is over whether I need to turn my head to check for other cars when changing lanes or just rely on mirrors. The three different lessons I have received are:

1. As long as you check your rearview mirror and appropriate sideview mirror, you are OK.
2. You only need to turn your head slightly in the appropriate direction to verify that the reflections in the mirror are accurate.
3. You need to turn your head all the way around to make sure there is no super-secret car bearing down on you.

What is the right way? I also want to be sure to do the right thing for the driving test (I'm in DC).
posted by earlygrrl to Travel & Transportation (95 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
You need to ALWAYS and I mean ALWAYS check your blind spot, which means you turn your head to look. You turn your head just far enough and quick enough to make sure there isn't a car in the spot you can't see if you're just relying on your mirrors. And if you want to go one step further, once you learn where the blind spot is, never ride in anyone else's blind spot.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 5:57 PM on June 2, 2010 [40 favorites]


You need to turn your head far enough around to check your blind spot. Get one of your friends to park their car behind and to the side of yours. It won't be visible in the rear view or side mirror. You need to turn your head to check for cars like this one.

I find that a quick look over the shoulder is enough.
posted by twirlypen at 5:58 PM on June 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh and here is some info on what and where the blind spot is.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 5:59 PM on June 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yeah, check your mirrors then turn your head to check the blind spot.

My mom used to yell at me for turning my head when I was learning to drive. To this day it makes me nervous that she doesn't do it.
posted by amro at 6:00 PM on June 2, 2010


There is a "blind spot" in many mirror setups off the left side of the car toward, but not behind, the rear of your own car. You need to check both mirrors, then glance over your shoulder to check the blind spot to ensure that there is, in fact, no super-secret car hovering off your left side. That people have told you #1, above, explains why so many jackasses almost murder me with their cars.
posted by Nothing... and like it at 6:01 PM on June 2, 2010


Always check your blind spot.

Always look for motorcycles too.
posted by Balonious Assault at 6:01 PM on June 2, 2010


Yes, you need to turn your head quite a bit to see the blind spot. The times you cheat and just glance, will be the times you nearly hit someone on the highway going 65.
posted by saffry at 6:01 PM on June 2, 2010


It's so easy to miss someone RIGHT NEXT TO YOU because they're in your blind spot. And if you don't see them you'll end up hitting them. So you definitely want to check all mirrors and your blind spot by turning your head slightly around. You'll have to figure it out for yourself just how far and how to turn your head (I'm still learning how to do it right, too).
posted by majikstreet at 6:01 PM on June 2, 2010


Are they teaching you about the blind spot? That's why you turn your head. Seriously important driving technique and it's frightening if someone with 20 years driving experience is telling you to only check your mirrors. I'd avoid this teacher, stat.
posted by meerkatty at 6:02 PM on June 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


There is a "blind spot" in many mirror setups off the left side of the car toward, but not behind, the rear of your own car. You need to check both mirrors, then glance over your shoulder to check the blind spot to ensure that there is, in fact, no super-secret car hovering off your left side.

There's a blind spot to the right, too.
posted by mr_roboto at 6:03 PM on June 2, 2010


If you have a blind spot your mirrors are misadjusted. See here, scroll down to Safe Driving Aid­ Side Mirror Adjustment about 2/3 of the way down. You shouldn't need to turn your head, everything should be visible in the mirrors or your peripheral vision.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 6:03 PM on June 2, 2010 [18 favorites]


You need to ALWAYS and I mean ALWAYS check your blind spot, which means you turn your head to look.

This. In New Zealand if you don't do this during your driving test you fail.

I still remember the first time I turned my head and there was an actual car bearing down on me which I hadn't seen in the mirrors. Freaked me out. Fortunately my arms knew what to do and didn't start to switch lanes even though my brain still thought it was the right thing to do because every previous time the check was just a formality, and it has been heavily imprinted on my brain ever since that you really don't know what's going on back there until you actually LOOK.

This is also why it's good to get at least one or two professional lessons before sitting your test, both to pass the test and to make sure you're actually a safe driver.
posted by shelleycat at 6:04 PM on June 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


1. False. There are blind spots even when your mirrors are aimed appropriately.
2. False. You need to turn your head as much as it takes to ensure you've seen everything bearing down on you from behind. How much depends on the situation, most which you don't control. The mirrors can be accurate but still not encompass the entire angle you need to be aware of.
3. See #2.

Over time you'll get a sense of where your mirrors are best positioned for the conditions (= road type, car type, weather, traffic) and how much you need to back that up with a turn of the head. On crazy Mass Pike driving, I look *everywhere* and never rely on mirrors alone. That way lies death and dismemberment.
posted by cocoagirl at 6:05 PM on June 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yes, if you're changing lanes you need to take a glance at your blindspot.

With that said, adding a little 2" convex mirror to your sideview mirrors can help to minimize (or even eliminate) your blindspot - especially if you're driving a larger SUV or van where it's hard to turn and see the blindspot - which can be handy for staying aware of your surroundings.
posted by csimpkins at 6:06 PM on June 2, 2010


I always turn my head, but only for a brief second. I have had a few cases early in my driving career where I turned around for too long and the car in front of me stopped, almost causing a collision. That being said, I now drive a Solstice with a blind spot bigger than the car itself, so I am very careful to not rely on mirrors.
posted by tryniti at 6:07 PM on June 2, 2010


Apparently, there is a method of adjusting your mirrors to avoid blind spots, which that teacher uses, but a lot of drivers are not comfortable with it because they learned with the "old" method. Does anyone use this method?

Also, when you turn, do you turn just your head so that your chin is perpendicular with your shoulder, or do you twist your body and look over your shoulder?
posted by earlygrrl at 6:08 PM on June 2, 2010


ALWAYS look over your shoulder. your goal is to see out the rear-quarter window behind your position. you cannot see onjects in your blind spot with mirrors alone (hence the name). ALWAYS turn your head.
posted by radiosilents at 6:08 PM on June 2, 2010


Hm, I was actually taught NOT to turn my head, but I do it anyway, every single time, for whichever way I'm moving over.

Blind spots suck and I have crappy spatial ability, so in a mirror, I can't tell what direction anything is or how close/far it is.
posted by tristeza at 6:08 PM on June 2, 2010


Here in Canada (at least in my province), you must do shoulder checks for your blind spots every time you turn. Right or left, doesn't matter. Otherwise, you fail your driver's exam (I think they give you up to 3 missed shoulder checks, 4th one you fail; but don't quote me on that).

I'm slightly frightened for your sake that of your 3 instructors, each with over 20 years of experience, only ONE of them has told you to check your blind spot. 'Slight turning of the head' doesn't cut it.
posted by Hakaisha at 6:09 PM on June 2, 2010


Your friends may be giving give differing advice because they each have their own car, which means (due to difference mirror designs) the size and location of the blind-spot will vary, and they've got into the habit of doing what works best for driving their car.
posted by -harlequin- at 6:11 PM on June 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Heard this on cartalk: most people have their side view mirrors set in such a way that they're useless. As in, the edge of your car is visible in the side view from your normal driving position. That leaves you with a huge blind spot and requires you to do a pretty big contortion to make sure your blind spot is clear.

A better way - lean way to your left or right and set your mirror so you can barely see your car from that position. For the left side, from your normal driving position, you'll be able to see the lane marker in the lower left corner of the mirror. This will feel really strange at first. Congratulations - you've now much reduced the overlap between your rear and side view mirrors. Don't believe me? Have a friend walk around your car from the back to the side. You'll be surprised at how well you can track their position relative to your car with the new mirror positioning. You'll now need barely a head turn to cover your blind spot, if that.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 6:11 PM on June 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


Apparently, there is a method of adjusting your mirrors to avoid blind spots

That would not work with my car. I have driven cars that had hardly any blind spot so YMMV depending on what you are driving as you learn, but my car is a Pontiac Vibe/Toyota Matrix (IOW very common, not unusual) and it has a significant blind spot that the mirrors would never cover. Don't be lazy, you're operating a very heavy, very powerful machine.

Also, when you turn, do you turn just your head so that your chin is perpendicular with your shoulder, or do you twist your body and look over your shoulder?

It depends on the car I'm in, it depends on the turn I'm making, it depends on a lot of things. The constant is that I turn enough so that I can see everything on my side and everything behind me.
posted by headnsouth at 6:14 PM on June 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Does anyone use this method?

I do. I sort of independently arrived at it. The way most of us are taught to arrange the mirrors doesn't make any sense to me. The side mirrors are aimed way, way too close to the sides of your car. So I've played with the mirror arrangements until I'm pretty happy. If you do it right, you should be able to see everything from directly behind you to directly beside you (and in between) without having to do anything but check your mirrors.

Of course given that I used to old setup for 15 years it's been very difficult to trust the mirrors and I end up checking over my shoulder anyway. Even though I can see the area I'm checking in the mirror. I'm hoping this feeling fades in time; I've come much closer to getting in an accident when someone in front of me brakes unexpectedly in the second I'm checking over my shoulder than through not looking over my shoulder with the new mirror setup.

So whether you have a blind spot when your mirrors are arranged "properly" depends on what you mean by "properly". If you arrange the mirrors the way the big majority of us were taught was proper, you will have a blind spot. But you can arrange the mirrors in a different way which will eliminate the blind spot.
posted by Justinian at 6:15 PM on June 2, 2010


Depending on your height and the car you are driving, I don't know that I believe that any method of adjusting the mirrors will fix the blind spot. You will need to learn where the blind spot on your car is, either by being next to a friend's car and gradually pulling up until you can't see it anymore in the mirrors, or the hard way, by scaring the hell out of yourself on the road.

FWIW, my car is a 2008 Altima Coupe and it has a *significant* blind spot, for myself (5'0") and my husband (5'11").
posted by Medieval Maven at 6:16 PM on June 2, 2010


Yeah, it's pretty simple in my hatchback to adjust the mirrors such that NONE OF MY CAR is visible in the side mirrors. This typically erases the blind spot, but my car is low and has a large, swooping rear window, so your mileage WILL vary depending on the vehicles and mirror orientation. I still swing my head to check just in case.
posted by disillusioned at 6:17 PM on June 2, 2010


I adjust my mirrors to avoid/eliminate blind spots. And then I always turn my head and look anyway.

You should not be able to see your own car in your side mirrors.
posted by The World Famous at 6:20 PM on June 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, short version: If you can see any part of your own car in your side mirrors, you will have a blind spot. But if you think about it, there isn't any reason to be able to see the sides of your own car in your side mirrors despite what most of us learn. You can already see everything in a 90 degree arc behind your car in the rearview mirror. So there's no reason not to aim your side mirrors to point significantly more outward, in which case you should no longer have a blind spot.

When arranged what I consider properly, if you can see the back of a car in your rearview mirror, you should see the front of it in the side mirror. If you can see the back of the car in your side mirror, the front of it should be just coming in to your peripheral vision. So no blind spot.

But, like I said, actually trusting this after having the "blind spot" drilled into my head has been very difficult. Given that you are just learning, though, you won't have the same instinct to overcome.
posted by Justinian at 6:20 PM on June 2, 2010


I am able to set my mirrors so that I don't have a blind spot, but I always look anyway.
posted by Lucinda at 6:21 PM on June 2, 2010


I've come much closer to getting in an accident when someone in front of me brakes unexpectedly in the second I'm checking over my shoulder than through not looking over my shoulder with the new mirror setup.

This is what I'm afraid of.

I'm sure with more experience, I will be able to check my mirrors, check my blind spot and make my lane change in one smooth move, but, right now, I am very awkward and nervous about changing lanes and just want to be sure that I am doing the right thing.

Thank you for all the advice, especially about exactly where the blind spot is. Everyone has talked to me about it, but I still had a different picture in my mind about where it precisely is; I thought it was more behind me than to my side.
posted by earlygrrl at 6:24 PM on June 2, 2010


Yes, always check your blind spot! Mirrors tell you all sorts of filthy lies about empty lanes. They especially lie about small, hard-to-see bicyclists and motorcyclists. Relying on your mirrors alone, especially if you are not militant about their alignment, is basically just asking to sideswipe someone at some point. It's not like it's some great deal of effort, either, it's a split second, and it just becomes part of your routine.

Also, checking the blind spot manually can help you spot the person two lanes over who's about to change into that same spot you're eyeballing -- your mirrors won't catch that.

I turn my head (only my head, no torso twist -- I guess I turn my head to the point where I can touch my chin to the front of my shoulder) specifically to look out of the rear corner windows of the car. That spot is what I'm looking for, rather than some certain degree of turned-ness. When I'm in heavy traffic I try to check twice before changing lanes -- quick check to confirm gap, signal, double check for guy two lanes over also moving in, then change lanes -- just to make sure no one has snuck in before me. It's reflexive, and I don't even have to think about it, it just happens.
posted by sldownard at 6:25 PM on June 2, 2010 [4 favorites]


The mirror adjustment thing probably depends on the car to some extent. No amount of adjusting will take into account the wide windshield support on my car, the blindspot is always there (although we've got it as small as possible). Maybe I'm the wrong height for the car (although I'm not short) but meh, I don't believe that every car can be made perfectly blindspot free like some people are claiming.

But also, you're still learning. You really need all the extra stuff right now to be aware of what's going on around you (I learnt to drive at 28 so have still remember what it was like). Save the short cuts for when you're experienced and at least some of that has become second nature. For example, that thing about things in the mirror being closer than they appear? It's not just a cliché, they actually are a totally different distance away than they look (and the side mirror is different than the rear view mirror). The only way to get a feel for this is by turning and looking so I'd be very worried about driving behind a novice who relies entirely on their mirrors no matter how perfectly they're positioned.

I turn my head so my chin is about level with my shoulder and also twist my body slightly, because in my car with my size and seat position this lets me see clearly out the back window. I wear glasses fairly often and that has an influence too (I need to turn enough so I'm not looking out the side of the frames). My boyfriend turns slightly less because he's taller, has a longer, more flexible neck and never wears glasses. If you're really worried about the best position sit in the car while it's parked and get a friend to walk around outside while you look and see where they are. It's a very quick turn, more to let your eyes register what's happening then have your brain process it as you turn back to the front, and again it takes practise until it becomes second nature. To start with you might need to look more than once anyway, changing lanes is difficult in general and shouldn't be rushed when you're still new to it, but it will come pretty fast.
posted by shelleycat at 6:25 PM on June 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


with my car, i have carefully adjusted the mirrors to cover both blind spots. it's very effective if done correctly. both outside mirrors should cover areas that are not visible on the middle rearview mirror.

if i do a lot of driving on someone else's car a lot, i calibrate the mirrors at a stoplight until i can see the cars in my blind spot. otherwise, i just look over my shoulder.

any time you take your eyes away from the front of the car is dangerous, so i consider this pretty important. i also wear glasses, so they also interfere in seeing blind spots if i turn my head.
posted by lester's sock puppet at 6:27 PM on June 2, 2010


Of course you check your blind spot. What are you, some kind of maniac? I turn my head as far as I need to, which has been less in some cars than in others. My current car has a pretty big blind spot so I really have to check.

If you run the risk of rear-ending someone while you're checking your blind spot, you're following too close.
posted by rhizome at 6:29 PM on June 2, 2010 [7 favorites]


I turn my head back over my shoulder (apparently I have a flexible neck, according to my husband); my husband uses his mirrors (and apparently cannot turn his head that far without turning his body). Neither of us have ever had a blind-spot-related accident.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:30 PM on June 2, 2010


Oh and re hitting the car in front of you, this is what correct following distances are for. In my experience the legal following distance is a lot further back than pretty much anyone drives, which is another good reason to have some lessons from a professional instructor rather than friends who have spent many years building up bad habits.
posted by shelleycat at 6:31 PM on June 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


but, right now, I am very awkward and nervous about changing lanes and just want to be sure that I am doing the right thing.

FYI, I find that night-time lane changes on a crowded freeway (I live in Los Angeles) is the only part of driving that can still give me the willies. Daytime is trivial, but even after all this time you can still get a scare doing it at night. Like if you get complacent and start checking for headlights rather than the actual vehicle, because then the idiot driving in near pitch darkness with busted headlights doesn't show up on your mind radar.

So don't feel bad.
posted by Justinian at 6:31 PM on June 2, 2010


I can maybe accept that mirror adjustment will reveal any car that you might hit upon changing lanes. I cannot accept that it would reveal any cyclist.

Turn your head around and check your blind spot. You won't rear-end someone doing this, if you're driving properly and leaving a safe distance between yourself and the car in front of you.
posted by palliser at 6:31 PM on June 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hey me too! I'm learning to drive at 33.

YES, Nthing please turn your head and check your blind spot. Agreed it is easy to miss a car or cyclist right next to you.

What I've found helpful:

- When you turn your head, be careful not to turn the wheel. I don't think you should go as far as to turn your shoulders too (more likely to turn your arms/hands), as long as you are getting the whole blind spot.

- Many state driver's handbooks are free online and will have the best steps & checks timing for changing lanes (here's Changing Lanes for my province)

- If you (unknowingly) slow down while trying to change lanes, especially at highway speeds, a car can move from rearview into your blind spot quickly. I almooost hit someone this way while practicing.

Good luck!
posted by SarahbytheSea at 6:31 PM on June 2, 2010


earlygrrl, the answer to your fear of rear-ending someone in the time it takes to check your blind spot is the 2-second rule. If your teachers have not told you about the 2-second rule you should get new teachers. Basically, you should always maintain enough distance between you and the guy in front of you that you can brake safely. If you have enough following distance, you're not going to ram into him in just a split second.
posted by sldownard at 6:32 PM on June 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


As a cycle commuter & former motorcyclist, yes, TURN YOUR HEAD to check your blind spot, absolutely, every time.

You could easily kill somebody if you don't.

And since that has probably already been said a hundred times, here's an extra tip for good measure: get into the habit of checking your side mirrors & centre mirror with a tiny glance every now & then when you drive, even if you aren't changing lanes.

I'm guessing that I probably do so as often as every 30 seconds, or less (I don't know, it just becomes habit). That way, you'll be more aware of what's happening around you, and will be less likely to be surprised by somebody sneaking up into your blind spot - since you saw them coming from 100m away.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:41 PM on June 2, 2010 [5 favorites]


When I was learning to drive, our instructor taught us SMOG:
-Signal
-Mirrors
-Over the shoulder
-Go!
posted by lilac girl at 6:42 PM on June 2, 2010


Some cars may have smaller blind spots than others, but all cars do have blind spots. So you damn well better check before you sideswipe someone.

Don't worry about hitting someone in front of you while checking your blind spot. You only need a second or two to check.

The likelihood of sideswiping someone because you didn't check your blind spot is much higher than the likelihood of rear-ending someone while you are checking your blind spot.
posted by twblalock at 6:42 PM on June 2, 2010


(and also, don't be one of *those people* who backs out of a parking space using only the rearview mirror. Turn your head around and look out of the back of the car!)
posted by twblalock at 6:43 PM on June 2, 2010


I was going to rant and rave about setting the mirrors correctly and getting convex blind spot mirrors, but then I realized I only know that because I already have the habit of checking my blind spot. So yes, check your blind spot.

Get in the habit of checking it, and then adjust your mirrors the best way it works for you.

Once the habit is fully entrenched, you can use the mirrors provided the cover the blind spots appropriately.

I adjust my mirrors in a parking lot. I pull my car next to another car so that it is in my blind spot. Then I adjust the mirror so I can see it. Instant safety!
posted by gjc at 6:43 PM on June 2, 2010


Turn your head. Every single time. You have a blind spot toward the back of your vehicle on either side, and if a car (or pedestrian, cyclist, whatever) is in that spot, you won't be able to see them in your mirror. So yeah, always check your blind spot.
posted by lexicakes at 6:44 PM on June 2, 2010


I keep my side mirrors angled pretty far out, so that I'm seeing about 45 degrees out from aft. I never got why people put them looking straight behind. I use the rear-view mirror for that, and when I back up I physically turn to look backward. In my car I can track an object from directly behind, off the rear-view and onto the side mirror, until I can catch it out of the corner of my eye without mirrors with very little turning of my head.

And I have still almost whacked someone a time or two. In California drivers-ed class, they taught us Mirror-Signal-Shoulder-Go. Decide when and what to do based on the mirror and turn on your signal. Just before actually executing, though, TURN YOUR HEAD and give it one last quick look. You don't need to stare at the blind spot and SEE-type see, but you do need to confirm that space is there, which only takes a fraction of a second. You won't hit anyone ahead of you in the time it takes you to flick your eyes that way and then back.

The vast majority of the time, it's wasted effort, sure. But the time it saves you in time from, at best, embarrassment, and at worst something really bad, you will thank yourself for developing that habit.
posted by ctmf at 6:48 PM on June 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


The worst blind spot in my car, actually, is about 45 degrees forward and to the left. When I make a left-hand turn, I have to physically lean from side to side to track objects from out the driver-side window to the windshield without them being blocked by the windshield edge post right at the time that matters. (But that's because I'm tall and have the seat back farther than most people, narrowing my view out the windshield.)
posted by ctmf at 6:51 PM on June 2, 2010


I am a current motorcyclist. Not checking your blind spot is a great way to create former motorcyclists. Please look over your shoulders.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 7:06 PM on June 2, 2010 [5 favorites]


Look over your shoulder to the blind spot. Otherwise, you can kill people.

Incidentally, I rent a bunch of Zipcars, and I am shocked at the differences in blind spots in some of the vehicles out there. Always check.

Always.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 7:12 PM on June 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I am a current motorcyclist. Not checking your blind spot is a great way to create former motorcyclists. Please look over your shoulders.

This.
posted by swngnmonk at 7:14 PM on June 2, 2010


My routine:

1) Adjust the mirrors properly to eliminate the blind spot.

2) Check mirrors -- and the rest of the road -- frequently to develop what the soldiers call "situational awareness". (There's a bus over there at 2 O'Clock that I'm overtaking. There's a blue New Beetle in the next lane over at 4 O'Clock also overtaking; I'll be in the clear first. Oh look at Mr Motorbike coming up fast at 7 O'Clock. He looks like he's gonna split lanes to my left, so I'll just creep over a bit and give him some space. Ahh! Stupid blue New Beetle, how'd you get by that bus before me...?)

3) Sneak a peak into the blind spot before lane change because something probably changed since I last updated SA.

Finally, the worst blind spot in my car is ahead and slightly right (1 O'Clock). The rear view mirror takes up enough windshield to hide a pick up truck moving in from the right. A brand new, slow moving Nissan Frontier "NISMO" in the Santa Anita Mall parking lot...
posted by notyou at 7:15 PM on June 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm sure with more experience, I will be able to...

Yes! Yes, you will be able to do this.

As another 35yo who just learned to drive, I just had to chime in with that...

After a couple of oh shit!s after you suddenly see the 'super-secret car' that could not have been on the road a split second before because ?? didn't you just see in your mirror that there was nobody there ?? the necessity of a decent peek/precisely where you have to peek will be clear, and you will develop your own style for swiveling your head whilst steering. If you are really paralysed about rear-ending somebody while learning this, tell yourself that the person in the passenger seat will confidently take over the driving etcetera.
posted by kmennie at 7:17 PM on June 2, 2010


Angle your mirrors towards the outside of the car so that the side closest to you is more outside and the side towards the road is more towards the inside of the mirror container.

3 is applicable strongly when you have a hunch while changing lanes that it would be better to look. Use point 3 strongly when joining interstates going down the ramp.

Point 1&2 is something that is done regularly when driving. When overtaking a car if you can see the front of the car you overtaked in your rearview mirror, that means you can safely come back to the same track in front of the car you overtook.

I became aware of points 1&2 more during a defensive driving course.
posted by iNfo.Pump at 7:19 PM on June 2, 2010


I pull my car next to another car so that it is in my blind spot. Then I adjust the mirror so I can see it. Instant safety!

"Safety" for you, yes, I guess -- you don't have injury to fear from the types of vehicles you're ignoring -- and this is not even the thoughtlessness of a moment, but when you're pulled off the road, doing safety adjustments!
posted by palliser at 7:23 PM on June 2, 2010


I drive a BFT (Big Friggin Truck). I used to drive a two door coupe. With both vehicles, there was a blind spot, but especially with the SUVs and trucks on the road, you need to check. Always turn enough to see the blind spot. If you are worried about sudden braking in front of you, you are following too closely. Also, always use your signals so that the other guy has a chance to react in case you miss seeing him.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:24 PM on June 2, 2010


I check my mirrors and then lean right or left to get a wider field of view. If it's a highway, I'll usually turn my head quickly to check my blind spots. I'm also a habitual rear-view looker so that I can gather data on what vehicles might be upcoming on my right or left
posted by GilloD at 7:27 PM on June 2, 2010


If you adjust your side mirrors properly, you won't have a blind spot one lane to either side, at least in any car I've ever driven.

I still turn my head to check, because 1) your mirrors have to be very precisely adjusted to eliminate the blind spot one lane over, and if you've moved your seat a quarter-inch forward and you didn't readjust your mirrors, or if a pedestrian bumped your mirror as he squeezed by your car as you parked, you now have a blind spot. To make sure your mirrors are adjusted properly, watch a faster car in an adjacent lane as it comes up on you and passes you; it should be visible in either your center rear-view mirror, your side rear-view mirror, or your peripheral vision at all times. That is, it must appear in your side rear-view mirror before it disappears from your center rear-view mirror, and appear in your peripheral vision before it disappears from your side rear-view mirror. Be sure to check both sides.

But more importantly, 2) even with properly adjusted mirrors, there's still a blind spot two lanes over from you, and you want to make sure there's not another car two lanes over trying to move into the same empty spot in the adjacent lane that you're planning on moving into. Thus, always turn your head to check, even if you're sure your mirrors are adjusted properly.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:34 PM on June 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


regarding "i'm more likely to get into an accident in the second i'm not looking at the road than i am by not checking my blindspot" :

1. if checking your blindspot takes more than half a second, you're doing it wrong.

2. if you're travelling so closely to the car in front of you that a split second of braking is the difference between you driving your vehicle into theirs or not, then you're doing that wrong, too.
posted by radiosilents at 7:35 PM on June 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


Apparently, there is a method of adjusting your mirrors to avoid blind spots, which that teacher uses, but a lot of drivers are not comfortable with it because they learned with the "old" method.

There are two blind spots.

A driver might have his or her mirrors adjusted so that there are places around the car that the mirrors don't show. That's one kind of blind spot, and you might be able to adjust your side mirrors to make them go away or minimize them.

But you also have a blind spot in each of your eyes where the optic nerve goes through the retina. You cannot adjust your mirrors around this. So you should turn your head and look so that you're seeing the same scene you were before with a different piece of your retina.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:38 PM on June 2, 2010


I've come much closer to getting in an accident when someone in front of me brakes unexpectedly in the second I'm checking over my shoulder than through not looking over my shoulder with the new mirror setup.

You MUST check your blind spot, but there really is no need to do it for long enough to risk what is in front of you. The two second rule is important - you should never be so close to another car that you don't have time to glance over your shoulder at ANY time, but especially when you are changing lane of merging.

Whenever you are moving laterally - check your blind spot.

Another aspect of looking over your shoulder is that some people here seem to think it takes some sort of appreciable time. It really needs to be a glance - just long enough for your peripheral vision to check for "something there or not something there". You don't need to focus on it or establish what it is, just if it is there or not. So 'searching' over your shoulder is not required, you just need to see if there is something in that space.

So, you must check that space, but you don't need to be able to recite the license plate of the car if it's there.
posted by Brockles at 7:39 PM on June 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


the answer to your fear of rear-ending someone in the time it takes to check your blind spot is the 2-second rule

I just took drivers ed a year ago, and in Illinois they changed it to the 3-5 second rule. To make sure you're at a safe following distance, start counting when the car in front of you passes a clear place in the road. If it takes you less than three seconds to get there, slow down. When driving in less than optimal conditions (rain, ice, snow) you should make sure you have at least 5 seconds of following distance.
posted by kylej at 7:46 PM on June 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Aside tip for changing lanes in heavy traffic (Like DC): Your turn signal is a notification, not a request. You're not asking, you're telling. Too many people in city freeway traffic put on the signal and then drive like an idiot while they stare at the next lane over and not ahead of them, desperately trying to "get a spot" or for someone to "let them get over."

Well, guess what? They won't. Here's what you do: choose two cars you're going to get between, preferably one with a large-ish gap between them. Drive up until your forward bumper is about adjacent to the front car's rear bumper. Signal for the lane change. Wait about a three- or four-one-thousand count. If the rear car has given you space, great - that's how it's supposed to work. In real life, you'll just have to slowly start moving over anyway as you slowly drop back from the lead car with your signal on. He'll move.
posted by ctmf at 7:55 PM on June 2, 2010


Another good reason to turn your head and look - there might be someone looking to also take your lane.

If you are in the right lane of a three lane roadway, and the car in the far left moves for the middle at the same time you do, you will never see them unless you turn your head and look.

You should always turn your head to confirm that things are they way you think they are. It only takes an instant.

Also, if you pay attention you can discern what people are going to do before they do it. This is a useful skill to develop.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:08 PM on June 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


It is always good practice to physically look to the side and behind, not just when changing lanes, but also when making turns at intersections. Do this even if you're in a "turn only" lane and have the green light, because you should never assume a pedestrian, cyclist, or motorcyclist is coming up behind you on the sidewalk or shoulder.

And I have to throw in my support behind checking around you even if your mirrors are adjusted accordingly. Some vehicles physically restrict your viewable area (ie passengers in back, overly large frame or small windows), so double-check with an actual look to be safe. Even if the mirrors don't reveal anything, confirm with your own eyes.
posted by CancerMan at 8:13 PM on June 2, 2010


Oops, I meant, "...you should never assume that [something] is NOT coming up behind you..."

Sorry for the confusion.
posted by CancerMan at 8:15 PM on June 2, 2010


Every terrifying, "omg I almost died" moment in a car I've ever had was because I didn't check my blind spot. And every bad driver I've ever ridden with doesn't bother to check blind spots, leading to the omg moments (which is why I consider them bad drivers). Don't tailgate, do turn your head when changing lanes, and you'll be fine.
posted by bessel functions seem unnecessarily complicated at 8:36 PM on June 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Speaking of course for myself and my vehicles only, I do not have "blind spots" and I certainly believe that taking your eyes off the road to crane your neck is dangerous.

How do I know that I don't have blind spots? I adjust my mirrors to the point that a vehicle coming up from behind is always visible either in my rear view mirror or my side mirrors until it catches my peripheral vision.

A major problem from my point of view (sorry) is that North American cars have a driver's side mirror that is plane, and an off side mirror which is considerably less convex than those of European models, and unless adjusted properly are worse than useless. Think about it. If you need to do a shoulder check, side mirrors are only useful as a (poor) substitute for your rear view mirror if its sightline is obstructed.

Yeah, and not doing a shoulder check will cost you a fail on a drivers test in BC too.
posted by Neiltupper at 8:39 PM on June 2, 2010


I personally would have been in multiple accidents had I not checked my blind spot via turning my head. Every time it almost happens, and I check and thus avoid totaling my car, I realize why I do it.
posted by irishcoffee at 8:44 PM on June 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


While we're talking about mirror positioning: I can guarantee you that nothing will approach you from above your car in your side mirrors. Everything in them will be on the road. So having a lot of sky in your side mirrors isn't doing you any favours -- put the horizon near the top of the mirror, so it's covering more of the road, and you get to use more of the mirror to see what you need to see.

Things a long way behind you will show up in your rear-view mirror anyhow.
posted by mendel at 8:45 PM on June 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've always been very careful about checking my blind spot. Then one day a few years ago I was merging and failed to do so. Nothing happened immediately, then at the next light this angry biker pulls up next to me and frantically gestures for me to open my window.

I did, and he says "did you not fuckin' see me back there?!?" All I could say was "no sir, I didn't. Sorry."

Don't be that guy (me).
posted by aydeejones at 8:48 PM on June 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


As far as how long you should look over your shoulder, you just need to engage the calikulus. You need not be as animated as Sheldon.

I remember my Driver's Ed teacher in high school doing a similar move and saying "and now I know there are about 9 pieces of paper on that bulletin board in a grid behind me!" If you're, say, changing lanes on the interstate, you can't really afford to look away for more time than that. It's hard to explain, but it will become seamless over time, and you won't have to actually think about it that much.
posted by AlisonM at 9:11 PM on June 2, 2010


Properly adjusted mirrors do not have a blind spot.

That said:

What is the right way?

There is no "right way", there's just the way that is appropriate for the conditions you're driving in.

On a crowded freeway with a lot of cars changing lanes, a full(quick!) head turn is appropriate, as you can never tell when someone is going to slide in next to you at the last minute.

However, on a rural Interstate, where you've been checking your rear-view mirror on a regular basis and watched that red minivan slowly catch up to you for the last 2 miles, a full head turn is superfluous and a simple sweep of the mirrors is all that is needed.

Likewise, on a busy but not crowded 2 lane highway, a quick glance over your shoulder wouldn't go amiss.

With all that in mind, for a driver's test, they almost always look for the full-on head turn, so you really want to be doing that during the exam.
Also, for a beginning driver, it's always a good idea to double-check your mirrors, especially until you get used to the ebbs and flows of traffic.

One last mirror tip: They aren't only for use when you are about to do something (change lanes, exit, whatever). Get in the habit now of checking them periodically. I'm not saying you have to do the fighter pilot 5 second sweep, but you should be keeping a regular eye on what is going on around and behind you(if only so you can avoid the idiot who's about to rear-end you because he's mucking with the radio rather than looking at the red light. heh)
posted by madajb at 9:25 PM on June 2, 2010


Just wanted to say, in terms of your worry about running into the car in front of you while you check your blind spots: it gets easier once you've done it a million times because you can do it quickly. When you're just learning, merging onto the highway is a stressful, complicated process because you have to think about everything--speeding up, keeping the car going straight, keeping track of the car in front of you, turning to check your blind spots, etc.

What I found really helpful when I was learning to drive was going with my mom to a really empty stretch of highway outside of the city in the middle of a work day, and practicing all of the motions over and over again without having to worry about too many other actual cars around me. Once the other pieces of merging feel more natural, changing where you're looking for a moment won't feel so scary.
posted by colfax at 9:41 PM on June 2, 2010


I've gotten hit by a car (about twice my car's size!) because its driver did not check HIS blind spot as he was trying to cross 2 lanes in a single dumbassed movement. My car was smooshed, and I was forced to get hit because I didn't want to smash into the car on the other side of me. I learned to look over my shoulder in driving school, have always used it with great success, and am an avid supporter of that method because I realize to what degree it actually does prevent accidents and harm to other humans.
posted by so_gracefully at 9:46 PM on June 2, 2010


A good friend of mine in high school was hit by a car whose driver changed lanes but didn't check his blind spot. She was lucky to survive, and graduated two years later in a wheelchair, her dreams of becoming a nurse shattered along with significant parts of her spine.

Please please be familiar with your blind spots and always always check.

I don't want to scare you out of driving... just remember that lives are on the line out there.
posted by beandip at 10:20 PM on June 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Adding my voice to the chorus of those saying "Yes, for the love of God, turn your head to check your blind spot." Re: your concern about someone in front of you slamming on the brakes? Before turning your head, back off far enough from the person in front of you that even if they do so, you have enough time/distance to avoid a collision. And as has been said, eventually you'll get really quick at the whole process.
posted by dondiego87 at 11:26 PM on June 2, 2010


Add up:
1. The number of people who believe that adjusting their mirrors will reliably eliminate all blind spots.
2. The number of people who are driving cars with mirrors that are incorrectly adjusted anyway - or which are obscured by condensation, dirt, ice.
3. Those who know they should turn their heads but have some problem with their necks or shoulders which makes this impossible.
4. Or those who have some problem with their vision which makes it hard for them to see things properly even if they do a head check.
5. Those attempting to drive while talking on the phone, arguing with a partner, shouting at their kids/dog.

Lesson to repeat: Learn where other people's blind spots are and don't hang around in them.
posted by rongorongo at 2:38 AM on June 3, 2010


To clarify- always check to make sure you have clearance before turning or changing lanes. If your mirrors (and your seat!) are adjusted correctly, there is no blind spot. That's what they are there for. How do you think large vehicles check for clearance? They use their mirrors.

(Maybe some people are mistaking us mirror advocates- of course you turn your head and look out the window- that's how you look at the mirror. But turning around and looking over your shoulder shouldn't be necessary.)

The advice about situational awareness is very, very good- if you are ever surprised by a vehicle in your perimeter, you haven't been doing a good enough job of keeping tabs on what's going on around you. Near, far, rear, left, right. Over and over again.

And yeah, the advice to not hang around in other drivers' blind spots is good- with enough practice, you'll start to be able to predict when someone is going to change lanes into you.
posted by gjc at 3:09 AM on June 3, 2010


Another chorus for "turn your head!" I do this even if I have ungodly pain in my neck. Always, always, always check the blind spot.
posted by Wuggie Norple at 3:44 AM on June 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Checking my blind spot before changing lanes/when merging into a motorway has helped prevent a couple of accidents for me. All this talk about relying solely on correctly adjusted mirrors assumes that you check your mirror positions in detail every time you start any journey. And very few people actually do that with their own car. Most drivers will cast a general eye only when using their own car but this does not highlight the very minor changes needed to create a blind spot. And if you're in the habit of turning your head you'll be safe, not just in your car but in any pool car, hire vehicle etc as the exact shape and design of a vehicle can be a factor as others have said.

By all means go to an empty parking lot and get somebody to teach you how to reverse and park a car using only your mirrors - actually knowing how long and wide your car is and learning to compute the distortions created by your mirrors can be exceptionally helpful. But you'll still always have to turn your head to check your surroundings before starting any manouver and you've got to keep checking whilst performing it.
posted by koahiatamadl at 6:26 AM on June 3, 2010


While I definitely agree with everyone regarding always turning your head to check, please consider also adding some fisheye mirrors to your side mirrors.

The ones I use are about 1" circles that come with double-sided gum-tape on the back. They're very easy to install. I find the best spot is the lower outer corner on both mirrors.

These mirrors don't interfere with the normal use of your mirrors, but they also give you great wide-angle coverage. They're superb for getting extra visual cues that there may be a car beside you that you'd normally never see. They also let you back up better by showing you where your wheels are hitting the ground. It's a great way to learn the size of your car in space.
posted by odinsdream at 6:39 AM on June 3, 2010


I am a current motorcyclist. Not checking your blind spot is a great way to create former motorcyclists. Please look over your shoulders.
N'thing this.
posted by I am the Walrus at 7:27 AM on June 3, 2010


As a motorcyclist in the DC area, please do the head check. I'd hate to meet you at my funeral.

I swear, no one around here signals, does a head check or even knows what lane they are in...*mutter*
posted by QIbHom at 8:38 AM on June 3, 2010


My mirrors cannot be adjusted to have no blind spot for someone my height. I'm positive of this, so other people have to be in the same boat. Turn your head to check. You won't be comfortable enough in any car for a long time to know if your mirrors are to-the-centimeter accurate (and I know the last AskMe post I read about this said the "no blind spot" would only work for car-sized objects, anyway, not bikes), and you might not even have one of those cars where it works.

Just as an aside - when people say "turn your head," they do not mean turn your head and focus your eyes on what's over there, they mean turn your head just enough so your peripheral vision can catch glimpses of what's in the lanes closest to you and hopefully a speed estimate of those objects.
posted by wending my way at 8:59 AM on June 3, 2010


When I was learning to drive, my instructor told me:

Mirror
Shoulder
Signal
Shoulder
Go

Works for me.
posted by kestrel251 at 10:31 AM on June 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think I might have given the impression (especially to motorcyclists) that I am trying to "get out of" checking my blind spot; that is not the case. I am trying to understand the proper way to check the blind spot. I am not a bad driver--I am a new driver who wants to learn to be a good driver. All of the comments have been very helpful. Thanks again for all the great advice!
posted by earlygrrl at 11:14 AM on June 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


It depends on the situation and the car. My Prius requires me to just glance to my left if I'm changing lanes to the left in order to check the blind spot, which is only on the left. My Mom's Saab something-or-other is totally different. If you turn your head to look you're creating blind spots. If you use the mirrors alone there are none. This is changing lanes.

Backing up out of a parking space, especially in a potentially busy parking lot is a different deal. I turn left right and all the way around before I start moving and then check all my mirrors and only my mirrors in quick succession while I'm actually backing out because this is when things can change quickly and the time lost with any amount of neck craning versus glancing at mirrors could be a problem.

And then there are cars with blind spots that you can't practically check visually. My old Jeep Cherokee had one on the right side. A car had to be the right size and be in the right place, but it happened. You've just got to know your car, and remember that abrupt moves are bad.
posted by cmoj at 11:48 AM on June 3, 2010


Other than when the rear view mirror's sightline is obstructed, what is the purpose of the side mirrors if you're going to turn your head anyway?

And are there any European drivers who claim blind spots?
posted by Neiltupper at 5:24 PM on June 3, 2010


As I said previously and many other people have said, you use your side mirrors to keep situational awareness, find the spots, decide when to change lanes, etc. just like you're used to. In don't think anyone is suggesting ripping the mirrors off of the car because THEY LIE!!!!1

Just, at the very last second, you glance that way and prove your belief. There is nobody where I'm about to put a 3000 pound object with a lot of kinetic energy - true or false? It only takes a brief flick of the eyes, no more than it would take you to look at your speedometer, gas gage, radio, or clock. And I and several other people already in this thread can tell you that it has occasionally saved a collision or near miss.

I'm just not understanding why, when it costs nothing to do, why you not only might neglect to do it, but intentionally NOT WANT TO? That's ok, though. *shrug* I'll try to be alert enough to watch out for the both of us out there - you do what you want. (although I can't guarantee children-safe language if you almost hit me changing lanes.)
posted by ctmf at 6:10 PM on June 3, 2010


I'm just not understanding why, when it costs nothing to do, why you not only might neglect to do it, but intentionally NOT WANT TO? That's ok, though. *shrug*

I apologize ctfm, my position was perhaps unclear and has clearly upset you.

A shoulder check is dangerous act. I will dispute that "it only takes a brief flick of the eyes, no more than it would take you to look at your "speedometer, gas gage, (sic) radio, or clock". You can't flick your eyes behind your shoulder, you must turn your shoulders, inspect the area adjacent to your car and about 10 feet further back down the lane from that and then return to position. That will take at least one or even two seconds if it is done effectively, and that is like closing your eyes for more than half the length of a football field at freeway speeds; time and distance for potentially dangerous events to unfold in front of you such as someone just ahead in another lane making an improper change into your lane, even if you are following at a safe distance.

That's the point that I and several posters have been making - shoulder checking is an inherently dangerous action which very well could cost me something, not something that I'm "willfully neglecting". It is indeed a flicker for me to check all my mirrors as a matter of routine to gain a sort of car proprioception and I have always have a good idea of the traffic behind me. The glimpse at my side mirrors when changing lanes, is a safety check. Craning my neck to one side, while better than no check at all is simply not as safe the use of properly adjusted mirrors.

And please don't fret. After many years and millions of kilometres I have never caused an accident or even a close call. I'll know you're there if I'm planning a lane change, don't worry.
posted by Neiltupper at 11:47 PM on June 3, 2010


and has clearly upset you.

Not at all, sorry if I gave that impression. I just disagree that turning your head 90 degrees and glancing where you're about to go is more dangerous than not doing that, is all. If that's working for you, great. I can tell you from personal experience on both sides of the lane change, that not everyone who thinks they're as good as you at knowing what's going on around them is correct.
posted by ctmf at 12:29 AM on June 4, 2010


Important corollary to always checking your blind spot: other drivers won't check theirs. Avoid driving in another driver's blind spot, to the extent possible. Obviously if you're on a packed freeway you're going to be in somebody's blind spot - but it's a packed freeway and everyone knows it. On a mostly empty road, though, you want to avoid being lagging a car in an adjacent lane. Drivers tend to forget you're there if they don't see you.
posted by zanni at 5:30 AM on June 4, 2010


what is the purpose of the side mirrors

The rear view mirror only looks out the back window. You are limited by the size of the rear window. The side mirrors are to look down both sides of the car and to 30 deg or so angle either side of the car. If you have the mirrors adjusted to see alongside, yet slightly behind, you you may not be able to see the gap that exists directly behind the side of your car extended backwards and 10-15 deg from the side of the car (ie two thin triangles to cover the area between the one formed by the width of the rear pillar of your car extrapolated backwards). This is hard to describe without drawing, but there are very few mirrors that are able to cover the area behind and to the side of you (where a car would be halfway through a lane change maybe 2 to 3 car lengths or so behind you) yet also cover the area alongside and just behind your peripheral vision - especially a car that is, for example, coming into that lane alongside you from the one further out.

The two dangerous blindspots are the ones that car/bikes overtaking you move through between lanes, and the one where (when you are in lane 1) a car comes back into lane 2 from lane 3. In addition, a blind spot is created by a car moving between the two areas of mirror coverage with unfortunate timing - ie check side mirrors? Clear, move head to rear view mirror? Car that was there is now in side mirror zone and you didn't see it.

If you have a mirror that covers from the edge of visibility of your rear view mirror right through to the edge of your peripheral vision when you have your head facing forward, I'd be very, very surprised. I've NEVER had a car that could effectively covered the entire area and I have driven countless rental cars, delivery cars and several examples of almost every major manufacturer over the years. I find it very hard to believe that you have 100% coverage of your mirrors.

Regardless, to have side mirrors that cover a 90 degree sweep to the outsides of your car demands that it must be a curved mirror (it's impossible otherwise to cover that much area) and these styles of mirror make judging distances and closing/opening speeds extremely difficult to judge. In addition, the magnification of the mirror lens would have to be very small and so detail is hard to judge.

A shoulder check is dangerous act. I will dispute that "it only takes a brief flick of the eyes, no more than it would take you to look at your "speedometer, gas gage, (sic) radio, or clock". You can't flick your eyes behind your shoulder, you must turn your shoulders,

This is absolutely not true. You being unable to do it does not at all make it fact. It is not in any way dangerous to turn your head as long as you have enough (basic, let's face it) bodily control not to move the wheel as you look around. You also do not, in any way, need to look for more than half a second to be able to ascertain whether the image in your mirrors is telling you the whole story or not. If you need to look for longer than that, not only are you doing it wrong, but it does become dangerous to some degree.

However, if you only look for half a second, then it is only dangerous if you are NOT following at a safe distance to do so. Your safe distance is enough that making sure you have covered your blind spots dictates how far away you must be for that check to be safely completed.

If you can't check your blind spots safely? You're doing it wrong.
If you don't have time? You're doing it wrong.
If it takes you more than 0.5 - 1 second to get all the information you need, you either have some visual or mental impairment for seeing and processing information or you're doing it wrong.

Additionally, if looking over your shoulder for 0.5s makes your control of your vehicle in any way compromised, then you should remove all radio's, CD players, heater controls, dash instruments etc. - basically anything other than the steering wheel and pedals. It takes no longer to check your blind spot than to read your speed to check it, or check the fuel gauge. If these checks are creating a dangerous element, then (basically) you are doing it wrong. Your driving control should not be anywhere near critical enough that 0.5s of indirect attention for ANYTHING compromises safety. It takes you longer than 0.5s to recover from a sneeze, for god's sake. I can't see anyone claiming that sneezing make driving dangerous other than in a moment of bad timing.
posted by Brockles at 8:48 AM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


If it takes you more than 0.5 - 1 second to get all the information you need, you either have some visual or mental impairment for seeing and processing information or you're doing it wrong.

At 60 mph you travel 88 feet in one second. Just for perspective.
posted by cmoj at 8:28 PM on June 4, 2010


I'm fully aware of that. At 60 mph you should be about 3 seconds at least behind any car in front of you and watching the traffic enough to know that nothing unusual looks likely before turning your head. So your glance over your shoulder starts with calm traffic and you should be 250-270 feet behind them.

You don't gain 88 feet on traffic by looking over your shoulder unless the cars in front of you hit a wall. You should have seen that being likely to happen before planning a manoeuvre that requires you to turn your head. You'll still be 250 feet or more behind them. Your stopping distance at 60mph is around 240 feet, so even if they have hit an instantaneous wall, you should either be able to stop or be going slow enough to avoid them.

Traffic is not a random death generator. You should be more than capable of making sure that there is nothing obviously wrong in front of you (anyone closing on another car, people driving erratically) to reduce the risk of your upcoming lane change meaning that the gates of hell open the second you flick your head sideways to check your outside with your peripheral vision.

LIke I say, if you're not capable of doing that, much safer, second-guess move? You're doing it wrong.
posted by Brockles at 8:44 PM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


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