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  • Autoglass® warns motorists of A-Spot danger as research identifies new blind spot on modern vehicles


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    • Autoglass® warns motorists of A-Spot danger as research identifies new blind spot on modern vehicles

2 January 2006

Autoglass warns motorists of A-Spot danger as research identifies new blind spot on modern vehicles

Autoglass is warning motorists of the need to take extra care, after independent research showed that thickening A-Pillar design on new vehicles has created a second blind spot – the A-Spot – capable of hiding an entire car from a driver’s field of vision(1).

Autoglass, the UK’s leading vehicle glass repair and replacement expert, is advising motorists to pause and check their A-Spot by looking around the A-Pillars – the posts either side of the windscreen – when negotiating junctions to ensure nothing is hidden view. Autoglass has joined forces with road safety organisation, RoadSafe, to call for an urgent review of European car manufacturing guidelines, after tests found the A-Spot could prevent drivers from seeing other vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists in the road ahead.

The research, conducted at MIRA (formerly the Motor Industry Research Association), tested A-Pillar obscuration levels on a cross section of new vehicles. Tests included a calculation of how much the A-Pillars impair driver vision of objects 23 metres away; the stopping distance required when traveling at 30mph.

The research found that 4x4 vehicles featured the largest A-Spots, measuring up to 4.5 metres(1) wide. Other poor performers included a top-selling family saloon, with an A-Spot of 2.7 metres(2) and a popular family hatchback with an A-Spot of 2.9 metres(3) - enough to hide a motorcycle or Smart Car from view.

The new blind spot has evolved in line with car design, as manufacturers have focussed on improving structural safety on newer models. The A-Spot measured on a popular 2006 hatchback (2.4m) was found to be twice as large as that recorded on its 1998 predecessor (1.2m)(4).

Nigel Doggett, managing director at Autoglass, comments: “While car manufacturers have worked hard to improve the structural safety of vehicles by using thicker, more steeply angled A-Pillars, this has had a detrimental effect on the front field of vision for drivers.

“A blind spot has been created which thousands of motorists simply aren’t aware of. It’s crucial for drivers to check that nothing is hidden from view behind the A-Pillars, both for their own safety and that of other road users. The A-Spot can obscure entire vehicles and there is currently not enough being done to find a solution to the problem.

“We would also like to see the Driving Standards Agency provide guidance for driving instructors on educating new drivers about the A-Spot, especially as advice for motorists on the issue is unlikely to feature in the revised edition of the Highway Code, due in the next twelve months. The message is clear – drivers must check their A-Spot or risk paying a high price.”

Autoglass is now pressing the Government to create an A-Spot taskforce, comprised of key industry experts, to help push the A-Spot issue up the European safety agenda. Currently, new vehicles must conform to the 1977 EEC Directive on vehicle A-Pillars before they can go on sale in Europe. Autoglass is arguing that the Directive is in urgent need of revision, to provide drivers with a clearer view out of their cars and reduce the number of accidents on UK roads.

Nigel adds: “We’ve written to the Department for Transport and included a copy of our research findings, which we hope will be the catalyst for much needed action on the Government’s behalf.”

Research undertaken by the Department for Transport recently revealed that 21% of accidents at junctions listed ‘Looked But Failed To See’ (LBFTS) as a major contributory factor(5).
Adrian Walsh, director of RoadSafe, comments: “While many manufacturers have individual engineering development programmes in place to tackle the A-Spot issue, it’s time for them to come together with other industry professionals and find an effective solution.

“The research from Autoglass provides further evidence of the dangers, sending a stark message to motorists. Experienced drivers are well aware of the traditional blind spots to the rear of a car, but this represents a timely reminder that many new vehicles have a blind spot at the front as well – caused by the A-Pillars.

“Ultimately, the driver is responsible for the safety of the vehicle when on the road and needs to take time to check that nothing is hidden from view. Over 32,000 people were killed or seriously injured on UK roads last year(6), and a simple A-Spot check could contribute to reducing this unnecessary toll, with motorcyclists and cyclists most likely to benefit.”

Autoglass is recommending a number of tips for motorists to help them check their A-Spot;

1) Before your next journey, spend time in your car looking at the thickness of your A-Pillars and the size of objects that can be hidden from view, in order to familiarise yourself with the A-Spot.

2) Always remain alert to the potential hazards around you – and keep a keen eye out for cyclists and motorcyclists at all times as they can disappear easily behind the A-Spot.

3) Remember that you may be hidden from the view of other drivers behind their A-Pillars and look out for vehicles pulling out of junctions or onto roundabouts unexpectedly.

4) When approaching pedestrian crossings always check that there isn’t anybody waiting to cross, even if the road appears empty. Pedestrians can be easily obscured by A-Pillars, so check at least twice as you approach the crossing.

5) When approaching junctions, move your head so you’re able to look around the A-Pillars to ensure nothing is hidden from your view. Do this check twice to ensure you have not missed anything. When turning right onto major roads, always make sure that nothing is obscured by your passenger side A-Pillar.

 

 

(1)Test results confirm that from a distance of 23 metres, the recommended stopping distance at 30pmh, the driver side A-Pillar in a Jeep Cherokee could obscure an object 4.5 metres wide from the driver’s field of vision.

(2)Test results confirm that from a distance of 23 metres, the driver side A-Pillar in a Ford Mondeo could obscure an object 2.7 metres wide from the driver’s field of vision.

(3)Test results confirm that from a distance of 23 metres, the driver side A-Pillar in a Vauxhall Astra could obscure an object 2.9 metres wide from the driver’s field of vision.

(4)Tests compared a 2006 model Ford Fiesta with a 1998 model. The driver side A-Pillar in a 2006 model Ford Fiesta was capable of obscuring objects of up to 2.4 metres wide from 23 metres. The driver side A-Pillar in a 1998 model Ford Fiesta was capable of obscuring objects of up to 1.2 metres wide from 23 metres.

(5)Statistics taken from Department for Transport’s ‘Summary and advance information of publication of DfT road safety strategy research reports – Review of the Looked But Failed to See Accident Causation Factor’.

(6)Statistics taken from Department for Transport’s ‘Road Casualties in Great Britain 2005’ report, published in June 2006.

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