Part of the automotive industry’s shift to move closer to self driving car safety can be seen through certain collision avoidance system features such as a blind spot monitor. A blind spot monitor is a sensor within the vehicle, which works to detect other vehicles located in the driver’s blind spots on both the sides and rear of the vehicle.

Depending on the make and model of the vehicle, the warning can alert drivers via a chime or beeping sound, a visual warning, or in some cases even a vibration.

How Do Blind Spot Monitors Work?

Blind spot monitor systems vary, depending on the make and model of the vehicle. However, many work in a similar fashion, as they monitor the lanes on either side of the vehicle, placing an emphasis on the spots that are just behind the driver’s shoulder.

In some systems, the blind spot monitor covers the full 360 degrees of the vehicle. If a vehicle is detected in the driver’s blind spot, the driver will then be alerted. Alerts vary, once again depending on the make and model of the vehicle. Most often, the driver will be alerted with a light on the same side mirror that the other vehicle is on. If the driver turns on their turning signal and a car is in the blind spot, the driver will be alerted by a more urgent signal. In some cases, manufacturers take things up a notch by utilizing video cameras, such as Honda’s LaneWatch system.

A great example of blind spot monitoring is Ford’s Blind Spot Information System (BLIS). It utilizes the latest crash avoidance technology, using radar in each rear quarter panel. The radar technology scans for objects between rear bumper and side mirror. If a vehicle or object is detected by the radar, a light lights up on the side-view mirror. The driver can see the light illuminate with their peripheral vision.

 

Blind Spot Monitor Development

Although most side mirrors can be adjusted to avoid side blind spots, many drivers overlook this. Thus despite presenting this method in a 1995 paper to the Society of Automotive Engineers, George Platzer realized there was a need for such a tool. Eventually, Platzer received a patent for the blind spot monitor. Today Platzer’s design has been incorporated into a wide array of products under the Ford Motor Company, which includes brands such as Ford, Lincoln, Mercury and Volvo.

 

Making Blind Spot Monitors Available To The Consumer

Blind spot monitor systems were introduced in the first half of the 2000s. First being introduced in 2007 with the Volvo S80, the sedan offered drivers the patented Blind Spot Information System, which gave drivers a visible alert when the driver was switching lanes. It utilized a pair of door mounted lenses to check the side blind spot areas. The following year, Mazda became the first Japanese automaker to offer similar technology called Blind Spot Monitoring. Ford introduced this technology on select vehicles from the 2010 model year, such as the Ford Fusion, Ford Fusion Hybrid, Mercury Milan, Mercury Milan Hybrid and Lincoln MKZ. Moving forward to present day, drivers can delight in blind spot monitors being widely available on many makes and models.

Need for Blind Spot Monitoring on a Commercial Scale

 

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, large trucks could benefit from technology such as having a blind spot monitor. Each year 384,000 collisions involve large trucks, with 4,100 of those collisions being fatal. In fact, the IIHS predicts that blind spot monitoring in conjunction with side view assist cameras could prevent 10% of large commercial collisions reported to the police. The IIHS asserts that since large commercial trucks have even larger blind spots than consumer market light-duty vehicles, they would benefit from crash avoidance features, including side view cameras and a blind spot monitor.

Blind spot monitors are part of many vehicles’ crash avoidance systems. According to a 2011 study by the NHTSA on vehicle safety, 9% of crash scenarios can be addressed thanks to a blind spot monitor. While it is still necessary to ensure that the vehicle’s mirrors are adjusted to optimize viewing, a vehicle’s blind spot monitor increases overall safety.