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Quebec coroner warns about potentially fatal SUV blind spot

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A Quebec coroner is warning drivers about a dangerous blind spot, and police say not checking it can lead to a fatal collision.

The report said an 89-year-old woman was standing in the spot between the front windshield and the driver's side window when she was struck by a pickup truck and killed crossing the intersection of St. Denis and Beaubien streets in November.

The report says she was basically hidden by a section of the frame of the car that attaches to the roof.

The frame in question has been reinforced over the years by automobile manufacturers in SUVs in an effort to make them stronger during rollovers.

The problem with that is that the reinforced frames can easily block a driver's ability to see a person standing to the left of a vehicle.

"It creates kind of a blind spot, but, also, if a motorist is, let's say, driving northbound and vehicles are coming southbound and the motorist is waiting to turn west, to his left, very often, they'll concentrate more on the cars, so as soon as they see enough distance to pass and turn left, they forget to make that extra check," said CAA spokesperson Andre Durocher.

In 2022, the Quebec auto insurance board (SAAQ) added training on how to do a simple manoeuver during drivers' lessons, but the coroner wants all drivers to know how to make the move to avoid hitting someone who is hidden.

"It doesn't require much effort, just moving your head a little bit to one side or the other, and you'll immediately see if someone's there," said Durocher.

The coroner recommended that the SAAQ creates an awareness campaign to show drivers how do this simple check on both sides of the blind spot when at an intersection.

Pietons Quebec said it supports the recommendation but also wants automobile manufacturers to look at making these blind spots less of a risk, especially since they tend to be wider on SUVS, which many people now drive.

Durocher said in addition to drivers checking the blindspots, pedestrians should remember to make eye contact with a driver before crossing a street.  

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