Check your blind spots… and your not blind spots.
After hearing many stories about being merged into, and being present for many instances of this occurring, I felt it would be a good idea to remind anyone reading that it is important to look around you, all around you, when you are planning to make a maneuver. The maneuver that causes the most problems is usually changing lanes, but it could include pulling out of a parking space (I tend to be guilty of preferring to look out one side over the other), at an intersection, etc. The list really could be infinite. I suppose the best way would be to address the issue by scenario.
A. When changing lanes
So, let’s set up the scene here. We are going to do this from the perspective of the red car driver, indicated by the black square in the red car. This picture roughly (emphasis on rough) shows the line of sight for the driver looking straight ahead. There should be a constant rotation in where you’re looking. A very bad habit to get into is locking your vision on the bumper of the car ahead of you. You may not always have to check the side mirrors, but definitely glance at the review mirror a lot and look ahead (past the car in front of you). As I’ve said in previous posts, you want to constantly be keeping tabs on all of the cars around you: Where are they? How fast are they moving? What’s their driving style? Who’s exiting? Who’s changing lanes? Obviously you’re not going to be able to keep tabs on every single vehicle for however long you’re on the road. You don’t have to spend a lot of energy on this, but you should just be, at minimum, paying attention to your surroundings.
Okay, so, where was I? Oh yeah, changing lanes.
So, when you’re planning to change lanes, you should thoroughly check the direction you plan to move. As seen in the picture below, by only relying on your frontal vision (and often rear view and side view mirrors), you miss cars located in your blind spots. We’ve all heard of them and all our cars have them—some larger than others. Problems occur when people do not check for vehicles in their surrounding vicinity, blind spot or not.
The picture below with all the pretty colors shows where you should check before making a maneuver, depending on the direction. If the driver is planning to move into the left lane (top lane), he or she should look to the lime green and neon blue sides. And by look I mean actually turning to the side/turning around enough to completely see the area to which the car will be moving. Mirrors lie. Always look.
If the driver wants to move into the right lane (bottom lane), he or she should look into the purple and neon blue area. Again, actually turn and look.
And you should look before you make your move. I occasionally will look as I’m changing lanes, which has led to a swift adjustment back into my original lane. If you do end up getting into one of those situations where you got lazy and didn’t look, and you happen to be running into someone, don’t keep going into that lane. Go back to your original spot, maybe show some sort of apologetic gesture (not the middle finger), and wait until the coast is clear for you to move into the lane.
It really should be obvious—just look where you want to go. If someone’s there, don’t go yet. If someone’s coming up behind you super fast, don’t go. If no one’s in the space you wish to occupy, go for it.
B. When backing out of a parking space
The main thing to remember here is to back out of a parking space slowly. You never know what crazy driver/pedestrian is going to wander behind you. Again, look behind you and to the sides. You can follow a general pattern when backing out of a space: look to the right, look to the left, back out a little bit, stop. Look to the right, look to the left, back out a little, stop. Do this until you’re more than half way out of the space. After assuring that you won’t hit anyone or anything, you can go ahead and finish your maneuver to exit the parking space. Sounds simple, but I’m pretty sure some people just don’t look…. or look once and assume that’s sufficient. Or back up too far when someone’s behind them waiting to pull into the spot and get dangerously close to hitting them. *Awareness of surroundings is key*
Or—you could just avoid Walmart parking lots during peak shopping hours.
[[this post has been in the works for a couple days now, and as I was coming home from work today, this old fart in a Mercury decided to merge into me after I had changed lanes. He wasn’t signaling either. I honked my horn, and saw him turn to see me. About two second later, still not signalling, he tries to push his way into my lane in front of me. So, I sorta angrily passed him in an exit only lane, and yeah. But seriously people! There was plenty of space after to me to get into the lane and it’s not like the lane was ending any time soon. Also, if you cut someone off, SPEED THE FUCK UP! Didn’t I post that a long time ago?! Ugh. Anywho. End mini-rant.]]