Mike Stevens | Jun 9, 2011

The style and improved structural integrity of today's new cars comes at a cost, according to a new 'Car Blindspot Ratings' report by Victorian insurer RACV this week.

The report reveals that thicker pillar designs and shorter window height of many new passenger cars is drastically reducing driver visibility.

As part of the study, RACV tested 183 brand-new vehicles by rotating a laser 180 degrees from the driver's seat, replicating the field of view from that position. Each vehicle was given a score out of five.

None of the vehicles tested achieved the top mark, while more than 21 percent scored just one star out of a possible five.

Only two of the vehicles tested received four stars - the Citroen C4 Picasso people-mover, and the Volkswagen Golf hatch and wagon variants.

Just 25 vehicles were awarded three stars, while 116 received a two-star score and 40 were given just one star.

RACV's Michael Case said that modern changes to vehicle design and additional safety features had improved crash protection for drivers and passengers, but in some instances, visibility had been compromised.

“Manufacturers must ensure there is a good balance between crash safety and visibility," Mr Case said.

"In some vehicles tested, a pedestrian or cyclist as close as nine metres away and a vehicle 20 metres away couldn’t be seen by the driver because the design of the vehicle created a side blind spot,” said Mr Case.

Many new vehicles are available with reversing cameras, parking sensors and blindspot alert systems, but few are offered with those features as standard equipment.

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