November 29, 2021

What Is a Blind Spot Monitoring System?

blind spot monitoring

A driver may forget to check their side mirrors, which can lead to a car accident when they try to pass, merge, or change lanes. If they do check, they might do it too quickly and miss seeing a car. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) claims that nine percent of reported automobile accidents that happen each year are from drivers merging and changing lanes. Newer cars and trucks have high-tech blind spot monitoring (BSM) systems that can prevent these kinds of crashes. In the past, this technology was only available in luxury vehicles, but this is no longer the case. It is now standard in many new cars and trucks.

Blind spots are defined as places that the driver cannot see because their view is obstructed. In a car’s sideview mirrors, the driver’s view is partially blocked by the side of the vehicle. The larger the vehicle, the bigger the blind spot. Commercial trucks have the largest blind spots. Truck drivers cannot see vehicles in this zone, and those vehicles are at higher risk if they linger there. The blind zone exists 20 feet forward in front of the cab, 30 feet from the rear of trailer, one lane to the left and two lanes to the right.

Smaller vehicles do not have such big blind spots, but it is still a significant safety hazard. New drivers are always taught to check their mirrors carefully and look behind them before changing lanes, however, human error comes into play. The first BSM system was introduced by Volvo in 2003. Since then, other auto manufacturers have been developing and offering newer and better BSM technologies.

How Do Blind Spot Monitors Work?

It can take time to get used to a BSM system. A BSM uses a set of ultrasonic sensors or radars that are mounted onto the rear bumpers, plus cameras in the vehicle’s sideview mirror housings. Drivers turn the BSM system on or off with a control panel button or voice command, and the system will work when the vehicle is going at least 20 miles per hour.

Whenever another vehicle enters the blind spot, the system will use a flashing light, illuminated icon, or other visual indicators in the side mirrors. Some also have an audible warning, like a repeating chime or beeping sound. Other systems also have haptic alerts, which may be a vibration that comes through the seat or steering wheel. The alerts may not go on if the driver has the turn signal on. Higher-tech systems will even show an image of what is in the blind spot.

BSM systems are also good for alerting drivers that they are drifting into other lanes. The more advanced ones will steer the vehicle or nudge back to the center of the lane. This is done by applying brake pressure or through steering. The driver will still be able to take over the controls if needed.

Should I Invest in a BSM System?

While BSM is not a 100 percent-guaranteed safe alternative to checking the mirrors and looking over your shoulder before changing lanes, it is a useful system that can keep you and your family safe. If you are planning to buy an SUV or large truck, it is worth considering. A BSM system is also a good tool for a new and inexperienced driver, as long as they remember to keep it turned on.

The BSM controls are usually near the indicator lights. Look over the alert system. Does it emit a sound? What does the visual alert look like, is it large enough to see? You should be able to adjust the alert sound volume if it is too loud. The best way to determine if you want the BSM system is to take the car on a test drive.

However, BSM systems have plenty of room for improvement. These systems will not alert you if a car is approaching directly behind you in the same lane. BSM systems also do not alert drivers when cars coming in the opposite direction, and they do not signal when passing stationary objects, like roadway barriers, stopped vehicles, and guardrails.

They are also designed for highway use, and they may not work as effectively on byways and city streets. Plus, if a passing vehicle is moving at a very high rate of speed, the BSM system will not be able to detect it because it has a maximum speed differential limit. Motorcycles, bicycles, and pedestrians might also not be detected. If you choose to use a BSM system, remember to keep the sideview camera lenses and sensors in the rear bumper free of obstructions. Also, clean them regularly. They can get covered up by condensation, mud, dirt, snow, or ice and may not work.

When using a BSM system, you will still need to turn on your signal and check for blind spots by looking over your shoulder. Make sure to hold the wheel steady while doing this so you do not veer out of your lane. The system is your backup in case you forget or happen not to see an approaching vehicle. As an added precaution, make sure that your rear window is clear of any obstructions and clean enough to see through. Also, remember not to linger in anyone else’s blind spot, such as a passenger vehicle or a commercial truck.

Montgomery County Car Accident Lawyers at Anthony C. Gagliano III, P.C. Offer Skilled Legal Guidance to Those Injured in Blind Spot Accidents

BSM is a useful automotive safety system, but it works as an assistive technology, not a substitute for safe driving. If you were involved in a motor vehicle accident, our experienced Montgomery County car accident lawyers at Anthony C. Gagliano III, P.C. can help. For a free consultation, call us today at 267-861-7100 or complete our online form. Located in Philadelphia, we proudly serve clients throughout Montgomery County, Delaware County, Bucks County, Chester County, and Norristown, Pennsylvania.