How to stay out of a vehicle's blind spot

An awful lot of motorcycle riders seem to have no idea what a vehicle’s blind spot is. In fact, during the past few weeks, I have seen many riders wait in front of a truck at a traffic stop. This seemingly harmless action may not seem like a big deal to some riders, but it is actually an accident waiting to happen. Need proof? Watch the video below to see just how bad it can turn out. 

Caution: Profanity in video

I noticed this quite often in the past few weeks when I wasn’t able to ride my trusty scooter. I've been driving my car lately because of bad weather and the need to run errands. This situation has let me observe my fellow motorcycle riders and how they ride around Metro Manila. Being on the lookout for motorcycles made me realize just how often motorcycles frequently stay in a car's blind spot.

What is a blind spot?

In a nutshell, a blind spot is an area around the vehicle that cannot be directly seen by the driver. They're areas even the side mirrors do not cover. It's likely because of certain parts of the car, like the cabin pillars or the obscure angle.

All types of vehicles have blind spots, even motorcycles. Unfortunately, the bigger the vehicle is (e.g.: an 10-wheeler or 18-wheeler ), the bigger the blind spots. Keep this in mind.

How to avoid a vehicle’s blind spot?

A lot of riders don’t know what a blind spot is image

The blind spots of a truck are the red areas.

The biggest problem is the fact that motorcycles are small and agile. We may be visible one moment but become invisible the next. It's very easy for a motorcycle to be obscured by the cabin pillar of a car.

I see you, you see me

As a rule of thumb, if you can see the driver’s face on his or her rearview mirror or side mirror, that means he or she can see you. As such, when riding near cars, always keep a look out for the driver's head. Put yourself in a position where you can see the driver's head to increase the likely hood of you being seen. This also helps you predict what the car is about to do. If the driver glances left, for example, then you know he or she may be thinking of moving in that direction.

Of course, don't depend on this 100% of the time. Other factors like mirror angles and weather can affect a driver’s vision. There's also a chance that they simply forget to look before changing lanes or turning.

How to stay visible

Vehicle Blind Spots: What is it and how to avoid it image

A motorcycle rider can easily be missed when behind other vehicles.

The best thing you can do is keep your motorcycle’s headlight ON at all times, whether day or night. This makes you visible on the road and easier to notice.

Always pass on the proper side. The leftmost and rightmost lanes are for vehicles turning left or right. Don't go straight when on these lanes. As much as possible, when passing a vehicle, do not pass on the right side. The right side is always for slower vehicles. Most drivers will not expect a faster vehicle coming from this lane.

Don't ride too close to a vehicle. Staying right behind a vehicle's tail light is a recipe for disaster. There's not enough room to brake and they definitely don't see you because you're obscured by the rear cabin pillar. Stay far enough for your headlight to shine on their mirrors.

When in doubt, flash your lights or honk your horn (politely). If you're passing a heavily tinted vehicle, don't take a chance. Either flash your lights or give a courtesy honk (half-second beep), to let the driver know you're there. and are about to pass. You'd be surprised just how many of them might even move over to give you more room.

Finally, be considerate. Don't immediately assume every car driver is out to kill you. More often than not, near misses happen because they simply didn't see you, or you were in the wrong place to begin with.

Keep these tips in mind for safer riding on the road.