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April 16, 2018

YOU DRIVE BUT YOU MIGHT AS WELL BE BLIND

If you are actually legally blind, this post is not for you. Park somewhere safe, turn off the ignition, and back away from the car. Call a cab, assuming you don’t know how to call an Uber or a Lyft. I’ve never done it myself. If you are not legally blind but have trouble turning your head to check blindspots, then you can read on…provided that you are not driving. Do not drive and read. Another disclaimer in case I get sued: I’m not suggesting that you drive even when you have trouble turning your head. If you can’t check blindspots safely then you’ll be better off finding another mode of transportation. It would be way cool and responsible of you to leave your car at home if you felt that your ability to drive was compromised in any way. You’ll have my respect. If you absolutely have to, however, drive at your own risk. Having said that, a little bit of neck pain or limitation in neck range of motion does not have to prevent you from driving safely. There are modified body mechanics and devices you can use to make driving easier but your safety or safety of others does not have to be compromised.

Modified Strategies

When you experience limitation in your neck rotation (i.e. turning head), you’ll have to compensate by turning your whole body or upper body to check the blindspots. To make this easier, wear smooth fabric. It does make a difference. Don’t wear a long coat that you end up sitting on because it will restrict your movement when you turn your body. Try to wear clothes that are loose around your neck (i.e. tight collar with a neck tie may restrict your neck movement). Do not hang a jacket in the back of the driver or the passenger seat. It will restrict your blindspot. Also, plan ahead before driving. Avoid rush hours and avoid busy streets. Plan your route so you make lane changes/turns as infrequently possible. When going to a shopping Mall or office building, try to park so you don’t have to back up. Avoid parallel parking if possible, not because you can’t do it but because it goes against my principle. Who designed our cities to require parallel parking? They couldn’t figure out a better way?

Equipment

There are so many blind spot mirrors on the market that it’s hard to know which one works best for you and your vehicle. It is a trial and error, unfortunately, but here are some that got the best reviews online:

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Maxiview mirrors. amazon.ca linkwide rear view mirror amazon.ca

parsonsadl.com link
Transfer Swivel cushion

If you want the additional help to turn your body when turning your head to check blind spots, you might consider using the transfer swivel cushion. basically, this allows you to rotate in your seat so you don’t have to twist your back as much. Make sure your foot is not on the brake or the gas pedal when you turn because you do have to put some pressure on your foot in order to swivel. It is also useful when turning your body to get out of the car.

 

I personally like to keep my neck supported when driving because I get neck pain from sustained sitting. I like to use a travel pillow because it’s compact and not as embarrassing as a regular pillow.

inflatable pillow
amazon.ca link

full body travel pillow. amazon.ca
I totally would not recommend this. I just chuckled at the thought of someone driving with this on.

Pacing

Get out and stretch. Plan your day to make frequent stops if you can e.g. instead of driving an hour to visit your brother, do a couple of errands on the way if possible or meet someone for coffee along the way. Try to relax. Increased mental tension will increase your physical tension. Turn on the music and sing along. Listen to an audiobook or something that will help your stress level. Keep your mind off the anxiety, tension, anger, and what other drivers are doing wrong.

Be Kind

Be kind to other drivers, stay in the slow lane and yield to other cars if your reaction time is slower. I know you’ve been driving forever and you can do it with your eyes closed (figuratively, not literally) but it’s a fact that our body and mind slow down with age. Be kind to yourself and don’t drive like a maniac. What’s the hurry? Go with the flow and be sensible. Don’t be an idiot (sorry to sound like your wife).

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