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Teens have a lot of driving lessons to tackle, but one of the hardest to grasp is the blind spot.
Though experienced drivers might be used to them, teens may be shocked by the idea that a person or vehicle just a few feet away could be nearly invisible. That disbelief is a roadblock to your teen’s driving progress, and one that could increase his or her crash risk.
Here are some tips for introducing your teen to blind spots and overcoming them to stay safe.
Blind spots may sound complicated, but they are essentially any areas around a vehicle that a driver cannot easily see. Typically, these are the edges just behind and to the side of the vehicle, but they can show up anywhere a driver’s vision is blocked. Though mirrors can help shrink your teen’s blind spots, they aren’t a perfect solution. That’s why it’s important for your teen to understand how dangerous blind spots are, and learn to defeat them.
Once your teen sees how blind spots work, teach him or her how to overcome them. The first step is properly adjusting the vehicle’s mirrors to get the widest possible view. To achieve this, have your teen lean forward in the driver’s seat, turn to the left, and adjust the driver’s side mirror until he or she can just barely see the side of the vehicle. Do the same on the right side and then, when checking the mirrors, your teen can lean forward slightly to get a much wider view. While this helps, your teen should always turn to look over his or her shoulders to confirm the blind spots are empty.
Technology like blind spot monitoring can also help, but it can never replace your teen as the driver. Whether your teen is turning, merging or backing up, he or she should regularly check the vehicle’s blind spots for vehicles, pedestrians and other road users. In fact, it’s a good habit to check every few seconds to stay aware of upcoming vehicles and potential hazards. The more information your teen has about the surrounding traffic, the better decisions he or she can make.
In addition to knowing the vehicle’s blind spots, your teen also has to learn to stay clear of the blind spots of other drivers. This is particularly important with large trucks, which have much bigger blind spots than normal vehicles. While driving, have your teen point out when you might be invisible to another driver, and take action to stay safe.
Practice this lesson every time your teen gets behind the wheel, and soon it will become second nature for your new driver.
DriveitHOME™ is an initiative of the National Safety Council, designed by and for parents of newly licensed teen drivers. DriveitHOME™ offers free resources parents can use to help their teen build experience to become safer drivers.
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