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Don’t be blind to your blind spot. Oh wait … your car does that for you now. But do blind spot monitoring systems really work?

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Blind spots contribute to more than 800,000 accidents and 300 deaths each year. In an effort to reduce these tragic statistics, automakers have taken advantage of new technologies, including radar systems, cameras, and vehicle sensors, to develop blind spot detection systems, also known as blind spot monitoring systems.  But do they really prevent accidents?

Don’t be blind to your blind spot. Oh wait … your car does that for you now. But do blind spot monitoring systems really work?

The short answer is yes, but don’t rely upon them completely.  Blind spot detection systems are optional upgrades on most new vehicles, and experts have speculated that they will become standard features in the near future. Although multiple studies have proven the efficacy of these systems, they do have limitations, and Forbes warns drivers that relying on blind spot detection instead of actually checking their blind spots could lead to an accident.

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Contact personal injury attorney Paul Hammack, Greenville, SC
Contact personal injury attorney Paul Hammack, Greenville, SC

Unfortunately, even the most innovative safety features cannot prevent all collisions. If you were injured or lost a family member in a crash with a negligent motorist, contact Hammack Law Firm to discuss your options for recovering compensation.

Are Blind Spot Detection Systems Effective?

Mobility Effects Database published the results of multiple studies that evaluated the efficacy of blind spot detection systems. One study conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found that blind spot monitoring in large trucks reduced the average number of safety critical events per 10,000 miles traveled from 3.50 to 2.55—an improvement of 27 percent.  That is a real improvement and a great start in reducing truck accident injuries and wrongful deaths.

A 2012 study that evaluated Mercedes-Benz collision avoidance features determined that blind spot monitoring reduced the frequency of insurance claims for bodily injury by 3.6 percent, for medical payments by 26.5 percent, and for personal injury protection by 7.2 percent. Another study published in 2011 in Accident Analysis & Prevention, Vol. 43, Issue 3 determined that blind spot detection could mitigate or prevent 393 deadly collisions and 20,000 injury accidents each year in the United States.

How Does Blind Spot Detection Work?

There are several types of blind spot detection systems available, and some are more sophisticated than others. Each system can be classified as either “active” or “passive.”

Active systems scan a vehicle’s blind spots using radar, cameras, and other technologies. They alert drivers if they detect an obstacle, such as a vehicle or a bicyclist, in a blind spot.

Passive systems are additions to your rear-view and side mirrors—for example, a convex mirror that provides a broader view than your standard side mirror.

Active blind spot monitors typically use an indicator light on the side view mirror or the dashboard to signify that an obstacle is in the vehicle’s blind spot. Systems are also available that deliver an audible warning if the driver activates the turn signal and there is an obstacle in the blind spot. The most advanced systems actually prevent the driver from changing lanes if they detect an obstacle.

Most of these systems work by emitting an electromagnetic wave into the blind spot. If the wave encounters and obstacle, it will bounce back to the sensor. The time it takes for the echo to return to the sensor determines the distance between an obstacle and the vehicle. If that distance is too short, the blind spot detection system alerts the driver.

Limitations of Blind Spot Detection Systems

A 2014 report in Forbes cited a study conducted by the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center that identified several weaknesses in blind spot monitoring systems. For example, some systems were not always able to detect fast-moving vehicles. Other systems took 26 percent more time to detect motorcycles compared to passenger vehicles. It was also discovered that some blind spot monitoring systems had a longer detection range than others, indicating that some systems are more effective for preventing blind spot-related accidents.

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