A recent study carried out by Accident Exchange, a crash management company, has found that crashes caused by blind spots have increased by 50% over the last two years.
The crash management company analysed 50,000 crashes since 2009, and found that in the majority of cases, the collisions occurred when the drivers pull out unaware of another vehicle in their blind spot.
Part of the problem has been caused by more stringent safety requirements imposed by the European Union.
As more and more cars are built of lighter materials, the reinforcement required to meet safety standards has led to a thickening of the pillars (the metal structure between the front and back windows), which is obscuring drivers views.
In 2005 the Driving Standards Agency banned the mini convertible from being used in tests after examiners complained about poor rear visibility.
Car manufacturers are now looking at new safety measures to minimise the problem. Currently Volvo and Mercedes have blind spot cameras that flash a warning onto the mirror if another vehicle is in the blind spot, while Citroen has a safety feature that shakes the steering wheel if it detects the car drifting out of its lane.
“Visibility and awareness are key contributors to maintaining safety,” said Robert Gifford, Executive Director of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety
“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.”
The figures, however, represent a sharper increase than had been thought.
Lee Woodley of Accident Exchange added: “The sharp rise in drivers seemingly unaware of the presence of another vehicle in an adjacent lane is pretty startling.
“Today’s cars are packed with ‘active’ safety equipment, but for some vehicles strengthened frames can mean reduced visibility and larger blind-spots.”
By Ben Malkin
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