Friday, 14 February 2014
The growth of the A pillar
There's no doubt that modern cars are structurally far superior to models widely available in years gone by. One of the recent trends in structural safety has had a possible downside in terms of driver vision
- the growth of the A pillar.
The A pillar is the engineering term for the area dividing the windscreen and the windows. In recent years the A pillars have become sturdier in a bid to improve the structure of the car as a whole.
In response, car designers have made them thicker. But the A pillar has created a blind spot which campaigners have pointed out obstructs the vision of thousands of drivers.
A study commissioned by the Department for Transport (DfT) from the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) found that, while the A pillar can obscure vision, there is rarely only one factor that contributes to an accident.
The study therefore found that there was not enough evidence to suggest that changes to current legislation regarding A pillar design would be of benefit. That means the onus is on drivers to cater for possible A pillar restriction. So what should we do?
More than 90 per cent of the information from the car's external environment is viewed by the driver through the windscreen and windows.
So, firstly, you should be aware of the potential restriction the A pillar may cause in your ability to scan the road ahead.
It is vital to check that nothing is hidden from view by the A pillar before making a manoeuvre. Pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists are easy to "lose" in the space behind a pillar. Make sure you take time to look around the pillar, not just take a quick "snap-shot" look which could allow a cyclist to be hidden from view.
As you are driving in a straight line in approach to a junction, look further ahead, and scan to the left and right on your approach. That way you will see things through the windscreens before they become "lost"
behind the pillars.
Remember - good, all round vision is vital. The onus is on you, as the driver, to see what is there.