Walking With Foresight By Driving With Hindsight…(A Tutorial for Eliminating the ‘Blind-Spots” in Your Rear-View Mirrors)

Vanishing deductibles“….”accident forgiveness“….”customize your coverage“……Casualty insurance companies  woo you to call for a quote by suggesting you may be being taken advantage of by your current carrier.

And they have ample funding for these sixty-second “come-ons” because, like fools at the circus following the sign to catch a glimpse of P.T. Barnums’ ‘Egress’, we naturally believe that rates may be cheaper on the other side of the fence.  Never mind that:

a)  Rates for all companies are based on vast, common pools of casualty statistics, sliced and diced as to age; sex; credit rating; make/model of vehicle;                physical address; driving record and claim history.  “Actuarial tables’  are naturally more accurate with passing time as drivers and vehicles become more numerous.  As such, a “vanishing deductible”, for example, can only be offered via some adjustment to the overall average rates of all policy holders.

b)  None of these ‘features’ (gimmicks), however, make you a better driver….. or ultimately a safer risk to the insurer.   Like Vegas casino owners, they acknowledge that you will, like all others before you, suffer a casualty loss.  Their concern is to keep you in their ‘casino’.

The only prudent recourse, then,  is to actively reduce the risk that you pose to others (and to yourself) by actively managing your exposure to it.

Several months ago, I learned the value of such ‘active’ risk management when, upon deciding to change lanes to my left, I was alerted to a speeding texter whose concentration on his thumbs made him oblivious to my blinking directional lamp.  Had my drivers’ side rear view mirror not been properly adjusted,  my rates would have gone up by being at fault via an improper lane change, and the speeder would have suffered ‘textus interruptus’.

Proper adjustment of side rear view mirrors involve a ‘leap of faith’ in that it involves discarding long-held assumptions that may have been instilled in you by parents, or even high school driving instructors….

98% of people adjust their mirrors so that, seated behind the wheel, they can glance either way and note the entire side of their conveyance, from mirror to tail.  While this is helpful in backing out of ones’ driveway, it exposes all of us to risk of physical damage and injury.  It does this by widening the “blind-spot” on either side of your vehicle.  (“It wasn’t my fault, Officer……they were in my blind spot!”).

“Blind-spots” can be eliminated by:

1)  Accepting the actuarial fact that over 99% of your driving (unless you are a Hollywood stuntman) is in a forward gear rather than in reverse.

2)  Noting that, driving with your mirrors as they are probably adjusted right now, an overtaking vehicle to your left becomes invisible to you when it leaves the left side of your center rear-view mirror……it does not reappear until you can peripherally see it through your drivers’ side window as it draws abreast of you.   The ‘blackout’ period is that interval of time in which the overtaking vehicle is “in your blind-spot”.  Any impulse you have during this interval to change lanes, or even to swerve to avoid a stone in the roadway….gets you a ticket and an almost certain rate increase by your friendly insurer.

3)  Understanding that, because your side mirrors were adjusted so you can at all times admire the finish of the paint on each side of  your car, there exists two ‘black holes’ in your rearward vision which can be controlled only by you.

So….what to do?…

Park your posterior in the drivers’ seat and close the door.

1)  Adjust windshields’ rear-view mirror.

2)  Adjust drivers’ side rear-view mirror by leaning your head leftward against driver’s side window glass and adjust the mirror outward until you see just a   ‘sliver’ of the side of the car in the right border of the mirror.

3)  Now lean to the right so that your head is in the center of the cabin, directly over the center console, even with the center placement of the windshield mirror.  Adjust the passenger side rear-view mirror outward so that, from this center vantage point, only a ‘sliver of the side of the car is visible in the left-hand border of that mirror.

Now, a drive is in order.

On the road, the ‘texter’ about to overtake you on the left will never be out of your rearward view.  To test your new adjustment, note that:

-When the ‘texter’ leaves the view of your center rear-view mirror, he/she will now be in your driver’s side rear-view mirror.

-The instant the ‘texter’ leaves the drivers’-side mirror, he/she will be visible out your driver’s-side window in your peripheral vision.  (The same will be true for those passing/overtaking you on your right).

No “blackout” period…..No ‘blind-spot’…….No risk!!!!

Congratulate yourself for reducing the risk of property damage and/or personal injury to yourself and to your fellow man.

And, if , like me, you are lazy and use the mirrors to back out of your driveway, simply lean your head left or right to catch the respective ‘sliver’ of the side of your car.  And, on the road, you will find a greater level of comfort and confidence in lane changes or other maneuvers that may suddenly become necessary due to road hazards.

Having improved your hindsight, you are now able to concentrate on the uninformed ahead of you who would rather admire their wax-jobs than worry about your occupancy of their ‘blind-spots’.      Drive safely…..It’s a jungle out there!!!!