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Do you glance over your shoulder to change lanes?

Lane top

Lane top

It's happened to all drivers, even the best of them. They've either almost sideswipped another car while trying to change lanes or have almost been sideswipped themselves.

The swerving chaos that we sometimes see on the raod (sometimes accompanied with a middle finger, or a few key choice words) is due mostly to a driver's worst enemy, the blind spot.

According to Car and Driver magazine, most drivers keep their side mirrors out of tune to ideal positions, causing blind spots that can lead to serious accidents. Car and Driver illustrates a car mirror setup that, once you get used to it, could prevent lane change freak-outs.

The auto magazine is basing its mirror alignment diagram from a paper published in 1995 by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). That paper suggested  moving side mirrors to point farther out into adjacent lanes -- which is counterintuitve to most drivers who prefer seeing part of the side of their own car.

According to Car and Driver, those who have switched to the SAE's approach swear by it, but many drivers will refuse to make the switch because they can't adjust to not using the outside mirrors to see directly behind their own car or being able to see their own car in the side mirrors.

Car and Driver said positioning the mirrors this way negates "the need to glance over your shoulder to safely change lanes."

While the diagram below shows this system works great for in highway driving, it ignores the fact that there are bicycles, people, motorcycles, pets and more randomness in local driving that require the need to take a quick peek over the left and right shoulders.

Bob Rorden, senior driving Instructor at La Salle Driving School in Uniondale said it is bad advice for would-be drivers. "New York DMV will either fail or deduct half your points if you don't look over your shoulder while pulling out of a parking spot or changing lanes."

Apart from that, it also creates bad driving habits.

Take a look at the diagram, and tell us what you think. Check below the diagram for reactions of some local driving instructors.

"Car and Driver [magazine] is wrong. In most vehicles you will need to look over your shoulder to change lanes," says Manna Cali, owner and driver instructor of  On the Road Again Driving School in  Ronkonkoma.

Driving instructor Ray Camilleri of EZ Auto School in Medford said, "No matter how you position your mirrors, there will always be spots that are blind. This is especially true when the car is backing up, it is important for drivers to look over their shoulders. There could be children, animals, or other small hazzards that won't be picked up by the mirrors. They are giving people bad advice."

 "I know about what they are talking about, but it doesn't work when your merging, turning, are backing up, or have a bad angle. It's good practice to check blindspots.

Also, in a driving test, the New York DMV will either fail or deduct half your points if you don't look over your shoulder while pulling out of a parking spot or changing lanes," said Bob Rorden, senior driving instructor at La Salle Driving School in Uniondale. 

Diagram, Car and Driver

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