Check Your Blind Zones When Test-Driving A Car

Even if you do happen to have an eye installed in the back of your head, every car has a blind spot behind it, and the dangerous possibility of running over low-to-the-ground animals and children in that massive blind spot. While rear-view cameras in vehicles are becoming more common, they’re still more of a luxury add-on than necessary safety equipment.

That’s why our safety-equipped siblings at Consumer Reports tested a variety of vehicles’ blind zones, using a traffic cone about the same height as a toddler. They tested more than 400 vehicles, publishing the best and worst results online. The worst reported blind zone was for a short (5’1″) driver behind the wheel of a Jeep Commander – that person couldn’t see a short item behind them until a rather disturbing 69 feet away. The best? The convertible Saturn Sky Redline, with a blind zone of a mere 5 feet for a shorter driver, and 3 feet for a driver who is 5’8″ tall.

Best and worst vehicle blind zones, and the role of rearview cameras [Consumer Reports Cars]


Edit Your Comment

  1. obits3 says:

    New Law:

    “You must be this tall to drive the F150 Supercrew.”

  2. flip says:

    they should of done a test with a denali sized truck with a 5’1 woman behind the wheel

  3. obits3 says:

    I have a backup camera on my Mustang. I didn’t intend to get one, but I was like “sure, why not?” when I saw what it could do.

    Best decision ever!

    The back end comes up so high that my blind spot is huge. The camera makes parking so easy.

    • Shadowfax says:

      Yup. Same on my TL. I thought it was stupid when I got it (you don’t get the choice – it’s standard equipment) but with the height of the trunk I’d be backing up blind every time. It’s great.

    • cassleer says:

      Nice feature to have a camera but, like my boss she uses it too much. She didn’t check her other blind spots (left side of the car) and backed into another car.

      • TooManyHobbies says:

        If there are blind spots to the side of the car, the mirrors are adjusted incorrectly. Proper mirror adjustment completely eliminates side blind spots.

  4. Sockatume says:

    It appears that bigger vehicles have larger blindspots. That’s probably an extreme generalisation but it seems to me that the tall truck, which gives one the impression of a commanding view of the road, actually restricts rear visibility, while the smallest, lowest car is the best.

    • obits3 says:

      I think it is more about angles. As I said in my post about the Mustang, the rear end is so high that I have a huge blindspot, so when I drive a truck like th F150 I think it is easier because I am high up and the side mirrors are way bigger.

    • MrEvil says:

      You still can see other vehicles. This is more the “Backing out of your McMansion’s driveway and unable to see the kiddies riding their bigwheels” blind spot.

      My F250 4×4 is probably worse than that F150. I can have a 25′ trailer behind me and can’t see it at ALL from the rear view mirror if it’s empty. Gotta use the left and right mirrors to see the trailer.

      It’s a moot point though, if you have a tall enough load in the bed, or a trailer your Rearview mirror is fucking useless in a pickup. Hence why they’re not a requirement.

  5. Grogey says:

    This works really nicely for blind spots.

  6. Southern says:

    actually I heard a news story this morning on my local talk radio show that said the government was going to make rear-view backup cameras standard on every new car, for, and I kid you not, “the safety of our children”.

    Apparently we kill thousands of children every year by running over them in our cars while backing out of the driveway.

    I mean, it has to be thousands, right? In order to justify adding a $500-$1000 system to the sticker price of every new car?

    • blinky says:

      Costco has it for $79.99 as an add-on.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I find it interesting that some cameras have a kind of fish eye lens effect and you can see a little more of what’s behind the car, but it still doesn’t solve the problem of the corners or the sides. A small child could be short enough that you wouldn’t even see him or her at the side of the car. The side mirrors are meant for you to see the sides, but they could still be adjusted high enough to where you wouldn’t see the very low portion of your vehicle.

      • Shadowfax says:

        mine sees to the sides as well as the back. If I’m backing out of a stall, I can see the whole aisle to both sides just with the camera. I’d see a kid coming from several stalls away.

    • perruptor says:

      Not thousands, but hundreds.
      Each week, at least two children are killed and another 50 are hurt in backover accidents. So we kill hundreds, and injure thousands.

      Do you have children?

      • Southern says:

        Well, that’s more than I figured it would be, honestly.

        Strangely enough though, I look around the area before I even get INTO my car to make sure there are no potential hazards, including children, bicyclists, other people getting into THEIR cars, people walking down the street/sidwalk, any animals visible within 50 feet, etc.. If I spot any potential hazard, I pay particular attention to that hazard and make sure I “know where they are” before I even start my engine and put my car in reverse. If something is amiss, I’ll even get OUT of my car to double check, or ask my wife to ensure it’s safe for me to back up.

        And in 25 years (knock on wood), I’ve never backed over so much as a skateboard, let alone a person.

        Guess that’s the difference between personal responsibility and government intervention, though.

        • JBTX says:

          ** sigh ** Government intervention is not always a bad thing, Do you know car manufactures have a history fighting off safety requirements? Seat belts and air bags come to mind.

          But no matter how responsible you are mistakes can and do happen. From the time you look behind your car to when you get in start it and put it in to gear, some one or thing could end up behind your car. You cannot maintain 100% visibility on what is behind you. Let’s say you are at a busy mall this holiday season and your getting in your car. You check before you get in and no one is there, A child could easily have broken away from a parent and entered your blind spot from the opposite side, you will never see them. This is how these things happen, sure there are some careless people out there but for the most part these are tragic accidents we can now help stop cheaply and easily. Shouldn’t we do that??????

          • Southern says:

            Accidents happen. You can’t prevent them. That’s why they’re called accidents (If you prevent it, then you didn’t have an accident, you ALMOST had an accident).

            There are a lot of things about cars that can & do kill people.

            There are still people out there, believe it or not, that still drink and drive. Many of them never get caught. Let’s make breathalyzers a requirement on every car.

            Those GM On-Star things save lives when you’re in an accident, since they automatically notify police and ambulance when you’re in a collision. Let’s make THOSE a requirement on every car. Oh, and they only work if you pay for them $16 a month. (If you get into an accident right now, unless you’re paying them $16 a month, they don’t give a crap if you die.)

            Speeding causes deaths. Let’s make it a requirement that auto makers include a device on every car so that they can only go a maximum of 60mph. Have the yearly auto inspection include a check to make sure the device hasn’t been modified.

            Talking on cell phones & texting causes accidents, so let’s go ahead with that plan that includes a jamming device in every new car so that cell phones are disabled over 5mph. It doesn’t matter that it will affect passengers, GPS, or whatever else. It’ll save lives, so it’s worth the personal sacrifice. If your passengers disagree, they can walk. (this law is already under consideration).

            Those are just a few things that we can impose upon the CAR companies to help make cars safer. There are also more LAWS we can pass that will make driving safer, like if it’s raining, you have to pull off the road until it stops, because lots of people just DON’T know how to drive in the damn rain (and you probably have seen this from first hand experience, people driving down the freeway at 70mph in the rain, 50 feet behind the car in front of ’em – just an accident WAITING to happen!)..

            Look, I’m all for saving lives, both for children AND adults, but DAMN, some of the crap they come out with should just fall under the “Personal Responsibility” umbrella. And the whole “It’s for the Children! Think of the Children!” thing is just fracking overused. *18,000* children a DAY – a DAY, mind you! die in this world due to STARVATION, where’s the outcry for THOSE children?

            • perruptor says:

              I’m sorry, much of what you’ve said here is reasonable. This is not:

              Accidents happen. You can’t prevent them.

              That would eliminate all types of safety equipment, from antilock brakes to safety harnesses and hardhats. Preventing accidents is a worthwhile and to some real extent achievable goal.

    • phobos512 says:

      Instead of requiring backup cameras, why don’t we just have a California type reaction and pass a law that makes it illegal for children to play behind cars? It’s the American way! lol…

    • Laura Northrup says:

      I don’t have children, but I do have neighbors who walk ten feet behind their kids as they ride their tricycles down the sidewalk in back of my car. I had a scary close call–but maybe sending your kid out two feet behind a running car wasn’t such a hot idea, Dear Neighbor.

    • kalaratri says:

      I bet you’re angry about those mandatory seatbelts and airbags too.

      • Southern says:

        Seatbelts, no. I’m an avid seatbelt supporter. Except in very limited circumstances, seatbelts have been proven to save tens of thousands of lives, even through actions that were no fault of the DRIVER of the vehicle.

        Airbags… I’m still not completely convinced of them yet. Did you know that airbags can seriously injure and in some cases kill a child under the age of 12 or so? So for the safety of your children, don’t ever let them sit in the front seat. Make sure you explain that it’s for their own safety (and let me know how that works out for you).

        The reason I like seatbelts is because they save lives if you’re in an accident, even if the accident is through no fault of your own. Backing up your car, though, is a personal responsibility. You should NEVER move your car, either frontwards OR backwards, which knowing *exactly* whats around you. If you know there are children anywhere around your car, you should know exactly where those children are before you even get into it. What if the child is playing UNDERNEATH the car? Is a backup camera going to help there? Are we going to need “under chassis” cameras too?

        • kalaratri says:

          “Did you know that airbags can seriously injure and in some cases kill a child under the age of 12 or so? So for the safety of your children, don’t ever let them sit in the front seat. “

          Yes. This is common knowledge and is in fact written all over my car manual, the visor and my car seats. I was not allowed in the front seat of my parents car until I was adult sized. Somehow I survived.

      • econobiker says:

        I don’t like mandatory seat belts from the stand point that our insurance rates never went down when mandatory primary offense laws for seat belts were enacted. Sure it saves/saved lives but the insurance industry benefited the most (think those cats at the Insurance Industry Safety Association who love to publish safety ratings/collision repair costs).

        As for airbags, back in the 1980s/1990s it was shown that it cost more to insure a same brand/model car with airbags than one without- an very interesting fact. With the adoption of near universal airbag installation this should have reduced costs by now since cars would be ~safer~ and less injuries would result from accidents. However I have never seen a rate reduction for all people insured due to airbag equipped cars…

      • MuffinSangria says:

        Seat belts no, airbags yes. Airbags scare the crap out of me.

    • npage148 says:

      Ugh, then everyone will be like my mother-in-law who uses the camera instead of mirrors now all the time. Like no glancing at anything other than the camera when backing-up. I’m waiting for her to run something over

    • JBTX says:

      By that logic we should strip out traction control, it adds far more to the cost of a car than this will. If made standard the true cost of the system should be less than $100. The cameras don’t need any thing more than 640×480 res with a fish eye lens and a small LCD is dirt cheap. And that’s before you factor in the economies of scale.

      And honestly I don’t care if it’s only a couple of kids a year, this makes sense to add. It will be cheap and save lives. The car companies will bitch simply because they wont be able to charge obscene mark ups for it as an option.

    • SpinnyD says:

      not sure where you have been shopping for a rear camera but you should find another outlet, I bought mine for less than $60 online. Maybe a little more Google-fu is called for?

    • parv says:

      I have yet to^W^W^W^WA child has yet to meet the rear tires of my car.

      Regardless, I would appreciate a rear view camera for the safety of my car.

  7. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    My T&C has a backup camera. I focussed too much on the new toy when I first got the van but now it is just an additional aid and I’m back to swivel necking as my primary MO.

    • obits3 says:

      Glad you pointed that out. The camera is good for seeing things right behind you. You still need to look and use your mirrors to see the side of your car.For this reason a camera on a truck would be great for when you are lining up the trailor hitch.

    • hoi-polloi says:

      Same here. The camera is great to see what’s directly behind you. It also lets you get extremely close without a fear of actual contact when parallel parking. You never know what’s coming from the sides, so it’s essential to also look around.

  8. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    That Mazda (I think it’s a Mazda) they test is the same shape as a lot of other SUVs – that style got popular, and it makes the back window much smaller, increasing the blind zone. The Murano and Lexus RX has a similar type of blind zone, IIRC.

    • wrjohnston91283 says:

      The Nissan Rogue has a incredibly large rear window, but only a small portion of it is actually see through glass. It was what turned me off the most during my test drive.

    • jesusofcool says:

      My mother has a CRV and I’ve always found it horrible to drive because of the blind zone. She won’t recommend it to anyone because she also hates it.

  9. keepher says:

    How about tossing the bed mounted tool box in to the mix which my husband has in his truck. I have no chance of seeing anything less than six feet tall. I have better sight in my longer truck without the tool box.

    I use my side mirrors for backing up because with my focus on them the possibility of something small scuttling behind the truck and my not seeing it is much lower.

  10. Chu-Chu says:

    Somehow I doubt that a Monster Truck was on that list…

  11. quirkyrachel says:

    I don’t get it. This story appears to make a come back about once every year and a half. Why? Isn’t this kind of obvious?

  12. Talisker says:

    My sister-in-law bought a new RAV4, and she can’t see out of the back window well enough to back up.

  13. pikebike says:

    What? How many 5’1″ drivers are there? Use a more common height like 5’7″ for women and 6’1″ for men.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Um, the average female height is around 5’4 or 5’5, I believe. The average male height is 5’10 or 5’11.

    • colorisnteverything says:

      I am 5′, my sister is 5’2” and most of the women on BOTH sides of the family (minus my 5’9” mother) are under 5’4”. It is VERY difficult to find a car to accommodate someone my size. I test drove a Mazda 3 last year when car shopping and was so uncomfortable with both the dash and the rear view (huge blind spot) that I could never have driven that thing for more than an hour at a time. Even after the adjustments, I was in pain.

    • Michaela says:

      Average US guy is 5′ 9.5″ and avg US gal is 5’4″

      …you must hang out with a ton of tall people…

  14. ZacharyTF says:

    First thing I thought of:

    [Marty enters his house and sees Biff harrassing George]
    Biff Tannen: I can’t believe you’d *loan* me your car without telling me it had a blind spot. I could’ve been killed!
    George McFly: Now, now, Biff, now I never noticed that, uh, the car had any blind spot before when I would drive it. Hi, son.
    Biff Tannen: But what are you, blind, McFly? It’s there. How else do you explain that wreck out there?
    George McFly: Now, Biff, um, can I – Can I assume that your, uh, insurance is gonna pay for the damage?
    Biff Tannen: My insurance? It’s your car. Your insurance should pay for it. I wanna know who’s gonna pay for this.
    [shows his shirt]
    Biff Tannen: I spilled beer all over when that car smashed into me. Who’s gonna pay my cleaning bill?

  15. kalaratri says:

    I wanted a rearview camera on our car because we will soon have toddler(s). While I would like to think that we would have them contained away from the driveway, toddlers are sneaky little things who love to push boundaries.

    It’s also handy for stupid people pushing their cart directly behind my car and loose children n parking lots.

  16. sgtyukon says:

    I put a back up camera in the Nissan Frontier I bought last June. Good decision. When my kids were little, we had a rule. They had to be in the car or on the porch where I could see them before the car got moved.

  17. balthisar says:

    I admit that my Expedition Max has a huge rear blindspot, but I don’t need a camera. Here’s why:
    * RADAR. It picks up anything. I actually kind of hate the RADAR (it goes off waaay too soon), but it’ll pick up a toddler.
    * I look around my car before getting in. Why don’t you?
    * I have side mounted rear view mirrors, so I can see if something that wasn’t behind me ends up getting behind me.

    If you’re irresponsible and run a kid over, that’s on you. If you’re the parent of that kid and didn’t bother educating him/her (or don’t keep it under control), then you share the blame. Stop taking away competent people’s freedoms.

  18. KyleOrton says:

    I think the point is this:

  19. Minj says:

    Why would you say that the Saturn Sky was the best when it isn’t sold anymore and tied with still sold and much more popular Mazda MX5?

  20. jurisenpai says:

    How about just buying a smaller, gas efficient station wagon instead of a monster crew-cab pickup or an Expedition/Tahoe behemoth? Less expensive to buy, less expensive to run, and much less likely to run over small children from your land yacht.

  21. Alter_ego says:

    I had to drive a kia soul as a rental car while mine was in the shop a few months ago (side note: by whose definition is the soul a small car?) and backing up was awful. The rear window is so, so tiny. I’m sure it doesn’t help that I’m really, really short, but I have NO issues with my Nissan versa

  22. econobiker says:

    Train your toddler to wave good by from a certain place each time. If there are older syblings then have them hold hands or stand next to the younger one showing what to do. Then if the child is not in place you don’t back up until you are sure the child is accounted for- in the house, in the car with you, not around at all…

  23. f0nd004u says:

    Cameras can’t replace common sense. Before you drive, walk around the back of your car and make sure there’s nothing there. EVERY TIME.

  24. hoi-polloi says:

    This brings back memories of the station wagon my parents had when I was a kid. There was a button near the glove box to open the rear hatch. There were two rear-facing seats in the very back, and one of us kids usually rode there. We were in the parking lot of a restaurant, and I was patiently waiting behind the car for my dad to pop the door. The reverse lights came on, and I thought, “That’s odd.” A second later, my dad started backing out and hit me in the legs. I knocked on the glass, and he thankfully stopped before any harm was done. By way of apology, he said, “I forgot you were waiting back there!”

  25. TehLlama says:

    How is it that so many people are completely unable to maintain situational awareness of what’s behind their cars. It’s not about visibility as much as observing what is behind your car first.

    Then again, I’m in the extreme minority of competent people who are good enough to avoid and prevent accidents that other drivers are actively trying to make.

  26. Adam says:

    Or just get a fisheye or convex mirror?!?! I’ve been using them for years and have yet to miss a vehicle in my blind spots…..why? Because they’re no longer blind……