RACV today launched its Car Blindspot Ratings revealing that some car designs can reduce visibility for drivers, increasing the risk of a crash particularly at intersections, roundabouts and pedestrian crossings.
The testing involved rotating a laser 180 degrees from the drivera€™s seat to replicate a drivera€™s vision. The scores were calculated by taking into account the position of the windscreen pillars (where the windscreen meets the side window) and how much each pillar blocked the laser.
RACV tested 183 new vehicles with more than 21 per cent scoring one star out of five. The vehicles tested represent a broad cross section of those available in each segment without focusing on any particular brand or price point.
The star ratings are a standalone scale that range from five star to one star. A car with one star will have visibility that is severely restricted by features such as large wide pillars, high door lines and narrow windscreen, whilst a car with five stars will offer a large unimpeded view of the road ahead.
No vehicles tested received five stars. Only two out of the 183 vehicles tested received four stars a€” the Volkswagen Golf (Hatch and Wagon) in the Small-Medium car category and the Citroen C4 Picasso (4 door wagon) in the People Movers section.
There were 25 vehicles that recorded three stars with the highest number of vehicles a€” 116 a€” receiving two stars. Forty vehicles were awarded just one star.
RACV Manager Vehicle Engineering, Michael Case, said changes to vehicle design and additional safety features had improved protection for drivers and passengers in new vehicles but in some instances, visibility had been compromised.
a€?Manufacturers must ensure there is a good balance between crash safety and visibility. In some vehicles tested, a pedestrian or cyclist as close as nine metres away and a vehicle 20 metres away couldna€™t be seen by the driver because the design of the vehicle created a side blind spot,a€? said Mr Case.
a€?RACV urges manufacturers to review their cara€™s ratings in this study and create designs that combine vehicle safety, ergonomics and visibility.a€?
Mr Case said drivers needed to be aware of those areas in their cars where the view was impeded and be prepared to move their head to look around them when necessary.
a€?Ita€™s particularly important when drivers approach intersections, especially roundabout, to keep sight of other vehicles as you give way,a€? he said.
If you do happen to have an accident, it is important to have your vehicle insured. RACV offers a range of car insurance covers to suit all sorts of needs – from comprehensive car insurance to basic third party insurance.