You remember in the movie, “The Matrix”, when Neo went to see the Oracle and was waiting in the living room with other ‘potentials’.  He is attracted to the little boy who was bending spoons with his mind.  Neo asked him how he accomplished this task and the boy answered (more or less) “The thing to remember is there is no spoon.”

In the same way, I am here to tell you when you are driving, there is no blind spot.

It kills me how ingrained this myth is in society.  New car companies now offer “blind spot detection systems” which alert you to when someone is in your blind spot.  Drivers’ Education instructors actually will teach you to turn around to look behind you before you change lanes.

At the same time, they tell you most accidents occur when you are distracted from where you are going.  They complain about texting, eating, putting on your eye makeup, being intoxicated, reading.  Then they tell you to always “keep your eyes on the road”!

Well, why would I want to turn my head around and look behind me when I am traveling at a high rate of speed in the other direction?  Most accidents happen when you are not looking where you are going.

Why do I have these blind spots?

When I was young, with mere years behind the wheel, I had a 1970 Mercury Cougar with a huge blind spot, even when I did turn around.  It had a swept-back roof line, like a fake fastback that prevented me from seeing who was immediately behind me in the other lane.  Jeez, it was scary to drive that car.

My epiphany came while I was watching an auto race on TV.  This was a Grand-Prix somewhere, with open-wheeled racers, left and right turns, cars passing each other, lane-swapping, missing each other by mere inches.  High speed.

These racers have no ‘windshield’ mirror, they only have their side mirrors, which are so close to them they can adjust either of them.  Those side mirrors are the only means they have to find out what is behind them.  They can’t turn around; they’re strapped in tight.  The cars’ cowling blocks their rearward sight and they are traveling way too fast to take their eyes off of the road ahead of them.

‘How do they do that?  How do they know someone isn’t there?’ BINGO!

First, let’s talk about the ‘windshield’ mirror.  When you look in your windshield mirror, you see the road behind you, all the way to the horizon.  It lets you know of any traffic coming in the near future!  If you are on a long straightway and a semi is a quarter-mile away and closing, you can prepare for its’ eventual ‘arrival’.  That makes the windshield mirror a good tool for preparation.

Now, the side mirrors.  We are taught to adjust our side mirrors to give us a view exactly the same as what we see in the windshield mirror.  Sometimes, you will hear you should be able to see your rear fender in the side mirror.

And you know those who do it because when you pull up to a red light behind them and can see the drivers face in the side mirror, they have their mirrors adjusted so.  All three of their mirrors are giving the driver the same information.  Therein lies the problem.

When someone is passing you, they are not behind you, they are coming up along the side.  But you can’t see them because your mirrors are aimed to show what is behind you.  They are in your ‘blind spot’.  You look in your mirrors, you change lanes and BANG!

Now, you are exchanging insurance information, or you are being treated by EMS or they are pulling a sheet over your head… or you are watching them do it all to someone else.

Why?  Because a vehicle was in your blind spot and you couldn’t see it.  Why?  Your side mirrors were not properly adjusted to ELIMINATE your blind spot.

“But Joe, if my mirrors aren’t properly adjusted, how can I adjust them properly?”

I thought you would never ask.

The easiest way to adjust your side mirrors to eliminate your blind spot (and save lives) is to go to a big parking lot such as at a mall of large department store.  You don’t want to go where parking is done at an angle, just the nice, old fashioned, pull straight in, back straight out type of scheme.

Find two cars parked, with an open space between them where you could park if you wanted but where you can pull into the parking space ahead of the cars.  This way, when you stop, you have a car on each side of you, just behind your back bumper.  You may note you either cannot see the cars in your side mirrors or you can barely see them.  You may now curse the car companies for installing the parabolic passenger-side mirror instead of telling you what I will, right now.

Adjust your mirrors so you can see the headlights of the two cars (not the windshield; you can’t necessarily see the windshield at night, but you can’t miss the headlights).  Bang, zoom, you’re done!

It’s just that simple.  When a vehicle begins to pass you and disappears from your windshield mirror, it will begin to appear in one of your side mirrors.  No blind spot!

But wait!  There’s more!

When you look in your side mirrors, you will see lots of motion (unless you see headlights).  The road will be whipping by on the drivers’ side or you’ll see the sidewalk careening beyond you on the passengers’ side.  It may upset you and you may wish to return to the ‘old ways’.  Don’t.  You’ll get used to it.

Need proof?  You will want to change lanes someday.  You are in a hurry.  You glance in the mirror and… Oh My God!  Headlights!

Then you’ll know it works.

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