Some new car models have large blind spots

With each new model of car, automakers attempt to make significant strides in safety. Sometimes, however, their efforts may make a vehicle more safe for drivers and passengers, and less safe for other people attempting to share the road. In some cases, a vehicle's design can even contribute to the incidence of serious bicycle accidents.

In recent years, magazines such as Consumer Reports have noticed a disturbing trend: some new car models have significantly larger blind spots than models in previous years. This means that a driver may not be able to see as well out of the back and sides of a new car as he was out of a previous year's model.

The problem is significant for two reasons. First, some car owners may choose to purchase a new model of a car they owned previously. Because they grew comfortable with the viewing angles in the previous model, they may take for granted their ability to see objects, other drivers and bicyclists in their new cars. Second, this lack of visibility is one of the leading causes of accidents between cars, as well as accidents between cars and motorcycles or bicyclists.

Experts have identified a variety of factors that have led to this recent reduction in visibility among new car models. Some suggest that stricter federal safety guidelines mandating performance in rollover and crash tests requires vehicles to have larger frames and door pillars. Others suggest that advances in aerodynamics have changed the way in which automakers approach automotive design. Still others say it is simply a matter of styling preference.

Before purchasing a new car, experts recommend that consumers take time to see how it performs when merging on the highway, backing up in a parking lot and even looking up at a stoplight. As far as motorcyclists and bicyclists are concerned, they should take extra caution when they see new cars on the road and should take care to avoid blind spots, which may be larger than they anticipate. The best rule of thumb is that if you cannot see the eyes of the driver, the driver cannot see you.

Visibility may not be a primary concern for all buyers, but it is essential for the safety of everyone on the road. As more consumers educate themselves about the need for proper visibility, perhaps automakers will begin making it a priority when considering the safety of their new models.