Nearly every passenger vehicle has some type of blind spot. Small passenger vehicles may have relatively small blind spots: just enough room, for example, for a pedestrian to slip by the vehicle unnoticed. Other vehicles, on the other hand, may have much larger blind spots. Big trucks may have enough space in their blind spots to lose smaller vehicles altogether—even including SUVs and minivans. Learning to keep track of blind spots, avoid them, and check them often can help many drivers avoid serious accidents as they travel on Albany’s roads.
In Albany, New York, pedestrians may have some protection from blind spots because big trucks must install convex mirrors, which can provide greater visibility for truck drivers and reduce the risk of severe accidents. Those regulations, however, do not eliminate blind spot risks.
Locating Blind Spots
Knowing how to locate blind spots can help you stay out of them. Knowledge regarding the location of blind spots can also make it easier for expert witnesses to reconstruct an accident and understand how it might have happened.
Blind spots may occur on all four sides of a vehicle, especially for big trucks. Most drivers have a clear blind spot on the passenger side of the vehicle, usually toward the rear. Turning to look can make it easier to see into this blind spot, but drivers of minivans and SUVs may still have a known blind spot where smaller vehicles, including motorcycles, can quickly disappear—as can pedestrians. Larger vehicles may also have a blind spot toward the rear of the driver’s side.
In addition, many drivers note blind spots toward the rear of the vehicle. They may have trouble seeing things directly behind them, especially pedestrians who stop too close to the vehicle. Backup cameras help to ease this challenge and make it easier for drivers to see what happens on all sides of the vehicle.
Finally, many big trucks have blind spots directly in front of the vehicle. Because the driver sits up so high, pedestrians, motorcycles, and even small passenger vehicles may get lost completely in that space.
What Hazards Do Blind Spots Present?
Blind spots make it difficult for drivers to keep track of exactly what goes on in a specific space. For example, suppose a big truck driver sits at a red light, waiting for traffic to clear so they can turn right. With their eyes on the road in front of them, tracking the movement of traffic through the intersection, they might not notice a small car driving into the blind spot on the right side of the vehicle. They prepare to turn, never realizing that this car has slipped into their blind spot. The car cannot get out of the way, which may mean an accident resulting in severe injuries for the driver and any passengers in that vehicle.
Blind spots may also represent a substantial challenge for the drivers of passenger vehicles, especially those who get out of the habit of turning to manually look in their blind spots before changing lanes or executing a turn. Suppose, for example, that someone driving a large van needs to back out of a parking space at the grocery store. The driver sits in their parking space for a few moments before pulling out, updating their checkbook, or finishing a text conversation before putting the keys in the ignition.
As a result, they fail to notice the small car pulling up behind them, directly in the van’s blind spot. When they check in the rearview mirror, the space appears empty, so they begin to back up. They collide directly with the vehicle behind them, resulting in damage to both vehicles and potential injuries to the passengers in both vehicles.
Blind spots make it very difficult for drivers to tell what happens within those spaces.
Drivers may struggle to keep track of what happens around them well enough to avoid losing track of another vehicle or a pedestrian that slips into their blind spots. Knowing the location of blind spots on a vehicle and taking steps to keep track of what moves into them can make it easier for drivers to avoid accidents. While drivers can take some steps to avoid blind spot accidents, many drivers struggle to reduce that risk and stay as safe as possible on the road.
Reducing Blind Spot Accidents: Technology Can Help
Reducing blind spot accidents represents an ongoing challenge in many areas. New York sees a great deal of truck traffic, which means more drivers with large blind spots moving through the area. With US 20 passing directly through downtown Albany, the largest city on the way to New York, drivers must learn how to safely navigate around those blind spots. Because New York recognizes those challenges, including the increased challenge presented by a high number of big trucks passing through the area, state law demands that truck drivers use convex mirrors to help track the presence of pedestrians and drivers alike around them.
Additional technology can also aid in reducing the impact of those blind spots. Backup cameras, for example, make the rear of the vehicle completely visible to drivers, who can then make more effective decisions about when to back out of a space. Modern trucks may also have cameras at the sides, allowing drivers to see what moves alongside them or moves past them as they drive. These cameras may clearly display the exact movement of items around the vehicle in real time.
Learning how to use them, however, takes time. Drivers can quickly become too dependent on those cameras and forget to check their actual surroundings. They may also look at the camera for too long, taking their eyes away from the actual road. While cameras can help increase visibility, they cannot offer a substitute for driver attention.
Some vehicles also come with warning sensors that can detect the presence of large objects, especially moving objects, at the sides of the vehicle. These sensors may notify the driver of the presence of other vehicles or pedestrians in those areas or even prevent the vehicle from moving in a certain direction until potential hazards clear out of the way.
Elderly drivers, in particular, often benefit from these sensors, especially if they have mobility challenges that prevent them from safely turning their necks or if they have more trouble seeing due to the impact of old age. Those sensors, however, can fail, resulting in serious accidents caused by drivers who become too reliant on them. Turning to look still offers the best view of a blind spot and can help reduce accident risk for many drivers, especially if pedestrians slip into their blind spots.
While technology may reduce blind spot risks, the burden remains on the driver when it comes to avoiding blind spot accidents. Turning and looking into blind spots can help the drivers of passenger vehicles avoid potential accidents when changing lanes, turning, merging, or backing out of a space. Identifying big truck blind spots and staying out of them can also help drivers reduce potential hazards on the road.
Who Bears Liability for a Blind Spot Accident?
Blindspot accidents can be tricky. Ultimately, the driver that causes an accident bears liability for the accident. Albany drivers should note that the driver that moves into another driver’s space, whether backing out of a parking space or changing lanes, will likely bear liability for the accident and face the corresponding penalties. That does not mean, however, that you can remain in another driver’s blind spot without penalty. Paying attention and trying to avoid blind spots and the associated risk can help reduce the odds that you will suffer serious injuries in a blind spot collision.
What Should I Do After an Albany Blind Spot Accident?
Another driver hit your vehicle as you moved through that driver’s blind spot. What happens next? If you have serious injuries, make seeking medical care your top priority. The other steps you take following a serious blind spot accident can help protect you further.
1. Report the accident to the Albany police.
Some drivers panic after causing a blind spot accident. They may have had no warning of a pending accident until the heavy crunch of metal, especially if you did not have time to honk your horn or otherwise indicate the coming risk. Adrenaline may flow quickly. Blindspot accidents may also occur more frequently when drivers have chosen to drive while inebriated or distracted, which may carry additional penalties.
Note, for example, that the police may consider an Albany driver to have driven while ability impaired with a BAC of just 0.05, even though other states might not impose penalties for drinking and driving until the driver has a BAC of 0.08.
Despite the driver’s worries, however, always report an accident that results in significant damage or injury to the police. A police report can help establish fault in the accident and provide vital evidence that can help you seek compensation.
2. Seek medical attention.
All too often, people walk away from accidents, including blind spot accidents, assuming that they do not need to worry about medical care. After all, they feel fine, other than a little soreness. They can manage without having to go to the doctor.
Unfortunately, adrenaline from the accident could conceal more serious injuries than you think. You might have broken bones that you do not notice due to the excitement. You might even have a traumatic brain injury or spinal cord damage and not yet realize it. A doctor can evaluate your injuries and give you a full account of exactly what you have suffered in the accident. You can then pursue proper treatment for your injuries.
In New York, all drivers must carry PIP, or personal injury protection, insurance, which can help provide much-needed assistance with your medical bills and other expenses related to your accident. PIP insurance, also known as no-fault insurance, helps individuals injured in serious accidents get the help they need to pay for their medical bills and get back on their feet as soon as possible after the accident. You will provide your PIP insurance information as you receive treatment, and that coverage will provide much-needed assistance paying your medical bills.
Keep track of all medical expenses related to your accident, whether you receive treatment at Albany Memorial Hospital or St. Peter’s Hospital, visit a local urgent care center, or have ongoing medical expenses, including follow-up appointments or therapies. If your medical expenses exceed the protection offered by your PIP coverage, you may need to pursue compensation from the liable driver through a car accident claim.
3. Consult an attorney to learn more about your legal right to compensation.
In Albany, you may not have grounds to file a car accident claim until your medical expenses exceed the coverage offered by your personal injury protection insurance. However, you may deserve compensation for your vehicle.
If you suffered serious injuries, you have trouble with the insurance company offering the compensation you deserve for your vehicle, or you have any questions about your legal right to compensation following a serious accident, contact an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible. Not only can an attorney help you understand all your rights, including how much compensation you really deserve after a serious accident, they can help you deal with the insurance company as you seek the compensation you deserve.
Did you suffer serious injuries in a blind spot accident in Albany? Do not wait to get the legal help you need. Instead, consult an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible to learn more about your right to compensation.
Mr. Finkelstein is the Managing Partner of Finkelstein & Partners, LLP. He has become a noted consumer activist through his representation of injured individuals against corporate wrongdoers and irresponsible parties.
An accomplished litigator, Mr. Finkelstein has represented Plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic personal injury cases. He has successfully handled dozens of multi-million dollar cases.