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  • Bedford Driver

Shoulder Checks are Vulnerable Road Users

Updated: Jan 25

Shoulder Checks

Just like in contact sports shoulder checks are everything!

Shoulder checks really are everything especially when driving in downtown Halifax or other busy urban areas. Pedestrians can walk into your left and right blind spots while you're watching cars and waiting to turn. The very last thing to do before you make your turn is to check the blind spot of the side you are turning to by quickly glancing over that shoulder to the rear window of that side. Our blind spots are at the rear of the vehicle to the sides. Checking your blind spots every time you make a turn or lane change will save you lots of problems. Not checking blind spots by shoulder checking is the leading cause of crashes in traffic.

Spring Garden Road walkthrough - Halifax

In these images you can see that I can't see my blind spot from the driver's seat but when I lean forward I can. But if I quickly glance over my shoulder I can see everything in the blind spot.

The one thing new drivers fear most is shoulder checks because they involve turning your head while holding the steering wheel in its current position and while moving forward, which is not natural for your brain. Make sure to only turn your head, not your whole body in order to avoid turning the steering wheel in the direction of your shoulder check. Would you come out of the corner with the puck without checking over your shoulder? Of course you wouldn’t because you would get smoked by another player!

360 Shoulder Checks

Your rear view mirror is for looking behind you. Your side view mirrors are for looking beside you.

Getting passed on the highway by a luxury S.U.V.

Should you shoulder check when exciting the highway? You wouldn't think that someone could possibly be able to pass you on the shoulder of the highway at 100 km/hr but I guarantee you that other drivers will find a way to do things that you might not expect. Luxury vehicles are the absolute worst when it comes to craziness like this.

Bad Drivers 2022 (most of these crashes are due to drivers not shoulder checking)

Motorcyclists know better than anyone how important it is to shoulder check.

If you aren’t sure why shoulder checks are important then you should go to YouTube and look at videos of motorcycle riders and cyclists. They shoulder check religiously so that they always know what hazards are around them. Motorcyclists and cyclists spend most of their time on the road avoiding drivers who don’t shoulder check and their heads are constantly moving; “Keep you head on a swivel” as they say.

Shoulder Checks and Vulnerable Road Users


Cyclists will often be in your blind spot when you make a rolling turn and they often ride as fast as we drive. The most common way for cyclists to get hurt or killed is by drivers turning right without shoulder checking their right blind spot. That's what they call a "right hook". You can see in the image below that if we turn right the cyclist would be in danger but in this case they are out of our blind spot making them much easier to spot. Always take your time when you are passing a cyclist.

Purcells Cove Road propane truck crash kills 49-year-old cyclist

Cyclist Post

“I want to pass a good experience this evening. I was on almond street heading home from the Chain of lake trail. It was around 4 pm. A black truck pick up with a gentleman was driving . He was behind me I was trying to ride pretty fast not to hold him up. We got to shopper’s I was going straight he was turning. He never tried to pass me a few did close but not him. When we were both at the light I said thanks so much for staying back and not trying to pass in tight spots. He said my safety was more important than that . My heart warmed when he said that I thank him. What a great guy.”

Cyclists really appreciate it when drivers check their right shoulder before making a turn. Remember that cyclists ride as fast as cars sometimes so you could have one in your passenger side blind spot as you slow down to turn right. One of my students is a cyclist. He told me on his first lesson that he didn’t understand the point of shoulder checks. Then, he was nearly run over by a driver who didn't check their right shoulder. On the very next lesson he said “I understand shoulder checks now”.

This is why you always check your blind spot

Shoulder check like someone's life depends on it. 👁️

The Hammonds Plains Road Needs Protected Bike Lanes

This is a perfect example that shows how cyclists get injured and killed by drivers who don't shoulder check.

Big trucks will can sometimes be fitted with wheel guards so that if the truck turns right and hits a cyclist they don’t end up under the wheels of the truck.

Pedestrians And Crosswalks

Pedestrians and anyone not in a motor vehicle are considered vulnerable road users because they don't have anything around them to protect them if they get hit by a vehicle. Always yield to these road users even if they"re not in a crosswalk or are in the roadway. Even when a pedestrian J-walks we still have to yield to them.

Pedestrian Near Miss

In this clip we are on an early morning lesson. The student is stressed out due to life circumstances and attempts to turn left without checking his shoulder. I hit the brake pedal and after this lesson I no longer teach early morning classes.

Crosswalks and intersections at night

At crosswalks there are lights that pedestrians are supposed to use before crossing. However not all pedestrians will be paying attention when they are at or in the crosswalk. Many of them will be staring at their phones so be cautious. Remember that as drivers we can use these crosswalk indicator lights to try and figure out when our green light is going to go yellow. If the hand is on steady there is a possibility that the light may turn yellow. If there are no vehicles or pedestrians waiting at the intersection as you approach it's unlikely that your light will change. If the walk light is on indicating that pedestrians can cross then that's an indication that your light won't turn yellow anytime soon.

Truck Collides With Pedestrian Near Mumford Road In Halifax

Shoulder Checks - Check Yourself Before You Make Your Move

In this video a student spots a pedestrian at a crosswalk at the last second and they do the right thing here by braking hard to ensure that they don't hit them.

A car fails to yield to a pedestrian on Spring Garden Road

S.U.V. Blast Through A Crosswalk Nearly Hitting A Pedestrian

Be mindful of puddles when you're driving near a crosswalk or pedestrian on a rainy day. The splash of water from your vehicle hitting the puddle could soak them and ruin their day.

Switchhfx in Halifax

Switchhfx is when the city shuts down some streets in Halifax and Dartmouth allowing pedestrians and cyclists to enjoy the streets safely.

Switchhfx in Dartmouth

Spotted this pedestrian in Fairview a couple years ago. People can be funny in traffic sometimes too.

I'm getting tired of these pedestrians just darting out in front of us.

Scooters and E-Bikes

There are a lot of scooters and e-bikes in traffic now ever since Covid. Everyday I see new road users on all sorts of different vehicles including seniors. The roads are now filled with these unique vehicles and this is the new normal. Always give these road users extra space when driving around them. They literally have nothing protecting the.

Truck driver charged after elderly woman on scooter hit in Halifax crosswalk

How To Change Lanes And Shoulder Check

A Complete Introduction To Defensive Driving For Beginners

Halifax's worst drivers 2016 - Part 1


Cool Student Driver stickers now available

One of my students recently experienced a road rage incident while practicing. These stickers keep other drivers behind you chill while you're trying to learn. You would be amazed at how many drivers respond positively to these stickers and sometimes will follow even further back.

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