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Blind Spots and Shoulder Checks: What You Need to Know

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Driving is full of maneuvers, some of which, when completed correctly and appropriately, will protect both you and other drivers on the road. Knowing why and how to execute these maneuvers is essential to learning how to drive. As a responsible driver, it’s important that you continue to maintain your skills. This is why we thought it would be useful to put together an article discussing one of the most important maneuvers you need to know on the road: shoulder checks. Indeed, shoulder checks are a maneuver that all experienced drivers should be familiar with. If this is something that you’re interested in learning more about, read on as we break down everything you need to know about shoulder checks.

What Is See-Think-Do?

See-Think-Do is a strategy that new drivers can use to respond more effectively to their surroundings. It’s broken down into the following three steps:
  1. See: Take the time to scan the area for hazards. Scan the area by keeping your eyes moving and active. Watch for other road users and the areas where hazards can occur.
  2. Think: Think about which hazards will be the most dangerous and which you’ll need to respond to first, as well as about possible safe solutions for each hazard.
  3. Do: Based on your current situation, perform an action that will keep you and others safe.

What Are Blind Spots?

Each vehicle has areas without direct visibility, called blind spots. These blind spots are at the front, back, and along the sides of the vehicle. They cover the same areas in each vehicle, but depending on the size and shape of each vehicle, these areas are much larger and more affective. To eliminate as much of the blind spots as you can, adjust your mirrors so you can see as much of the side blind spots as you can. Some vehicles nowadays are equipped with blind spot detectors and cameras, but because these technologies cannot detect hazards outside of the area covered by their cameras, they should not be relied on and you should still be checking your mirrors and turning your head to look back while backing up.

How Should Shoulder Checks Be Performed?

New drivers don’t always find shoulder checking easy for a couple of reasons. The first reason is that it can be frustrating to determine what exactly you’re looking for. For example, how far do you need to turn your head? Are you looking through the driver’s window, or the mirror? Are you looking through the back door’s window? The second reason it can be difficult is that it can be intimidating or overwhelming to take your eyes off the road ahead even for a second, when you’re first getting used to being behind the wheel of a vehicle. Some drivers worry that they’ll miss something critical if they look away. Once you break down the why and the how of shoulder checking, it is easier to complete the safety check. The reason for shoulder checking is to see what is in your side blind spot. A side view mirror reveals a portion of what is beside you, but shoulder checking gives you a full picture of your surroundings. When you complete a shoulder check, your head should move just enough to give you a visual of what’s behind you. Despite its name, you should never turn your entire body to the back as this can be incredibly dangerous. You should look at least 45 degrees over your shoulder in the direction that you are scoping out. As your head moves around, glance in the rearview door window to see what is in that blind spot and then look forward again once you have seen the space. And as far as failing to see something behind goes, a shoulder check should take a literal second; it’s the same amount of time that our eyes take to check the rearview window, side mirror, speedometer, or any other gauges. So when should you check your blind spots? Before changing your position or direction in the lane. This includes changing lanes, completing a turn, pulling over to the side of the road, and parking. A blind-spot check ensures that the space in the direction you’re moving into is clear. One of the instances this is often forgotten is upon leaving our vehicles – we should complete a mirror and blind-spot check before we open the door to exit the vehicle.


We hope this article proves to be useful when it comes to helping you gain a better understanding of shoulder checks. While they may seem tricky at first, the information that we’ve laid out here should make things infinitely easier for you. Feel free to go back to this article if you ever feel like you need a quick refresher on shoulder checks. If you need help with driving, why not try out a ​​car driving school? At Midtown Driving School we have designed classes with the busy student in mind. We have a very flexible system of classes that allows students to take the classes in any order they wish and at their own pace.