By on August 19, 2009

For $1,595, Ford will sell you a Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) which uses radar to detect vehicles approaching your “blind spot.” But, as Christopher Jensen points out at the New York Times, blind spots don’t have to exist in the first place. Summarizing an SAE paper on blind spot safety, he explains how to get rid of the pesky things.

“The driver leans his head against the driver’s window and sets the mirror so that the side of the vehicle is just visible. Then, the driver leans to the middle of the vehicle (between the front seats) and does the same thing with the passenger-side mirror.”

Better yet, he gets Ford’s chief safety engineer Steve Kovaks to basically admit that the system is largely useless. “If we could train everyone in the United States to do it that way, then I think we would probably be a lot better and we wouldn’t need a system like this,” he says. Especially considering that “an elegant and inexpensive solution” already exists for the problem of blindspots. BlindZoneMirror uses mirror-lens inserts to provide good blind-spot vision when tailored to a specific vehicle. The best part? It was invented by the guy who wrote the SAE paper cited above. One thing it won’t do is provide an opportunity to show off your cars ability to perform unnecessary tasks in a slick, high-tech fashion. Which is why it costs less than $1,500, and why it will probably never be as intriguing to new car buyers.

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86 Comments on “The Truth About Blind Spots...”


  • avatar

    Better yet, he gets Ford’s chief safety engineer Steve Kovaks to basically admit that the system is largely useless. “If we could train everyone in the United States to do it that way, then I think we would probably be a lot better and we wouldn’t need a system like this,” he says.

    Just getting some drivers to care about anything outside their mobile cocoons of self is too much to hope for, and now we’re to believe they’ll actually bother with this complicated procedure?

    That’s crazy talk.

  • avatar
    Kevin Kluttz

    Been doing this with my mirrors for years. No blind spots, just a panoramic view of what’s lurking around behind you. It works.

  • avatar
    Boff

    Shoulder checking in my car gives me an eyeful of B-pillar. Good thing I have always followed Kenzie’s advice on mirror aiming: “nobody was ever hit by the side of their own car”.

    But I can name dozens of $1500 options that are dispensable and worthy of scorn. Why single out a safety feature?

  • avatar
    paul_y

    Car Talk also recommends the same system of mirror-alignment. You’d think it would be intuitive to not have all three mirrors showing the same thing, but most people are morons.

    The idea is to not have those three mirrors overlap more than is absolutely necessary (enough to show a continuity of field of view). Why is that so hard?

    I am also a big fan of small convex mirrors. Used properly (i.e., with properly adjusted side and rear mirrors), they do 90% of the work for you.

  • avatar
    CyCarConsulting

    Isn’t that fancy system the same thing I got at Pep Boys for $.99 ?

  • avatar
    MadHungarian

    The mirror trick won’t get rid of the C pillar blind spot you have backing up in many new cars. It won’t get rid of the close-behind blind spot you have in many new cars (and all SUV’s and crossovers) caused by a high and rising beltline and/or a squashed rear window. The mirror trick won’t get rid of the forward blind spots caused by thick A-pillars and BY THE MIRROR ITSELF, due to high beltlines, A-pillar angles and huge mirror buckets.

    You get rid of all that by designing the car properly in the first place. Take a look at a 1963 Cadillac six window sedan and tell me why we can’t have that kind of greenhouse today. Don’t tell me roof crush safety or side impact safety. Unless you can tell me why with 2009 materials technology and engineering we can’t build a safe car some way other than just glopping on more metal and causing safety problems that make it MORE LIKELY that you will have an accident because you just couldn’t SEE whatever you just hit. Or roll back the safety nanny standards and let me have a choice. My choice is to be able to see out of the car.

  • avatar
    IGB

    Another, perhaps easier way of doing things is to look in your rear view mirror. Then adjust your side mirrors so they start where your view in the rear-view mirror ends. I haven’t had a significant blind spot for years using this method.

  • avatar
    P71_CrownVic

    Which is why no matter how many gimmicks Ford crams into their appliances…it still doesn’t change the fact that they are lackluster.

    $1,595 for this gimmick is insane.

  • avatar

    MadHungarian, modern A pillars often contain airbags, too. Curse the Safety Nazis!

    Actually, I think you’re right about styling overriding safety. Nothing new.

  • avatar
    Loser

    “The driver leans his head against the driver’s window and sets the mirror so that the side of the vehicle is just visible. Then, the driver leans to the middle of the vehicle (between the front seats) and does the same thing with the passenger-side mirror.”

    Nothing new here, I learned this in drivers ed over 25 years ago.

  • avatar
    BuzzDog

    Even better are the side-view mirrors used outside of North America, where the outside edge provides a wide-angle view.

    I’ve always liked the British term for these devices: “wing mirrors.”

  • avatar
    NulloModo

    On a Fusion SEL you can get the 302A rapid spec package for around $1700 that includes not just the blind spot sensors, but a reverse camera, moonroof, Sony audio system, and backup sensors as well, so, the $1595 just for the blind spot sensors is a bit off.

    The biggest benefit of BLiS (Blind Spot Information System in Ford-speak) to me isn’t the blind spot lights (I have never had an issue with proper mirror alignment) but the cross-traffic alert system. With Cross Traffic Alert the car will beep and tell you if someone is approaching to hit you while you are backing out of a parking space. When you are at the grocery store, parked between two trucks/SUVs/Minivans in a sedan there is no way to see if there is someone storming down the lane no matter how your mirrors are set up, this new system does add a real safety benefit.

    Side mirrors with blind zone cutouts are also standard equipment on Ford Edges and Lincoln MKXs, with plans on introducing that feature across the line.

  • avatar
    michal1980

    idk, my mirrors are set wide apart, like the sae paper, and in my rabbit I still have a blind spot, esspically on the drivers side. haven’t figured it out completely yet because never had this problem with others car I’ve driven.

  • avatar
    paulie

    Look, MANY options and/or safety features on cars today needn’t be necessary IF we all did what we’re supposed to do.
    DUH!
    But we don’t.
    So we get features that keep us alive even when we are knuckleheads.
    I have this feature on the new Mazda6.
    And yes, it has saved me from many stupid moves.
    Yes, I do make lane changes and do not completely check.
    OK.
    So I should die, it’s my own fault, my own carelessness.
    But thankfully, an innocent car and its occupants lived without knowing why.
    And on my Lincoln, the backup warning system has saved a few red Paulie faces.
    And a whole lot of dollars.
    So DUH! again.
    I should have looked carefully each time.
    But the point is…I didn’t.

    This is silly.
    S I L L Y.

  • avatar
    Garak

    I always use parabolic stick-on mirrors in my cars and bikes. They cost about 99 cents a pair and eliminate blind spots completely.

    They help with parking too, as you can see the entire surroundings of your car.

  • avatar
    dwford

    Ford has it’s own cheaper alternative to BLIS: the factory wide blind spot mirror inset into the side view mirrors as shown in the headline photo.

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    I believe 10x as many people could be saved by driver training vs. some stupid camera. I don’t have a $1.5k system to sell so unfortunately I don’t have bogus stats to back me up. All I know is, when I got my license (US) I made a right turn out the DMV parking lot, another right turn, a U-turn in a cul-de-sac, and two left turns to get back in the DMV parking lot. Frankly it is a miracle that myself and my cohorts didn’t cause a bloodbath, camera or not.

  • avatar
    confused1096

    This is needed because people do not drive anymore. They just aim.

  • avatar
    Aqua225

    I agree with Paulie. Great feature. I have not been in a car yet where I have not properly set the mirrors, and there are still situations where I can’t see motorcycles (God’s way of cursing you, is to make you love two wheelers enough to buy and drive one:)).

    And just as a note for you loud pipe Harley drivers. I can’t hear your obnoxious bike until you are right beside me such that your pipes are ringing the metal in my car, or ahead of me — and out of my blind spot in either case.

    If you are a two wheeler driver, please remember this when you are zipping through traffic like we are sitting still.

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    @paulie:
    Look, MANY options and/or safety features on cars today needn’t be necessary IF we allmorons did what we’rethey’re supposed to do.
    DUH!
    But wethey don’t.
    So we get features that keep us alive even when wemorons are knuckleheads.
    I have this feature on the new Mazda6.

    ..Fixed it for ya

    Garak :
    I always use parabolic stick-on mirrors in my cars and bikes. They cost about 99 cents a pair and eliminate blind spots completely.
    +1. Especially for trucks & suv’s.

    I wonder if the brain stems at the NHSTA even allow for the option of Euro style parabolic-type side mirrors.

  • avatar

    But… But… Guys like useless, expensive gadgets! That’s why they invented the automatic transmission, right?

  • avatar
    Daniel J. Stern

    @MadHungarian:
    Take a look at a 1963 Cadillac six window sedan and tell me why we can’t have that kind of greenhouse today.

    Because many car buyers feel safer when swaddled in a car with small, dark windows, thick pillars, and high belt lines than when exposed in a car with large, bright windows, thin pillars, and low belt lines. Fill in the blank here with everything from head restraint shape to headlamp beam performance; there’s a variably large gap between what makes people safe and what makes them feel safe. And as everybody knows, whatever the focus group thinks they feel about safety, that’s whatchya gotta build ’em, right?

  • avatar
    V6

    i’ll just stick with my 89 Maxima with perfect all round vision thanks to the low belt line and slim pillars

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Silly option…and they set off every radar detector in the area to boot.

  • avatar
    Ronman

    I’ve had experience with BLIS, and it’s actually a neat thing. although i am inclined to bend forwards and check my side views for my blind-spot, BLIS made a simple glance at the mirror enough without having to reposition.

    i understand your point, and think the little mirror gizmos are more efficient, but hell, i think anything that makes lazy and un-intelligent drivers that little safer helps.

  • avatar
    johnthacker

    And yes, it has saved me from many stupid moves.
    Yes, I do make lane changes and do not completely check.

    Many? My God, you should have your driver’s license revoked. I shudder to think what will happen if your system ever breaks.

    If you are a two wheeler driver, please remember this when you are zipping through traffic like we are sitting still.

    Yeah, but these systems are totally useless if there are motorcycles and scooters zipping past you all the time (and not in any particular lane) and you are going slow or sitting still. Just trying having one of these in downtown Bangkok– the thing just goes off all the time. It’s pointless.

  • avatar
    discoholic

    Boff: But I can name dozens of $1500 options that are dispensable and worthy of scorn. Why single out a safety feature?

    Good point. How about the oversized wheels that the motoring press just looooves to love and that
    a) ruin the ride
    b) increase fuel consumption by at least 10%
    c) are only really useful at speeds that the average driver will not ever reach even in his wildest dreams?

    (Example? A bog-standard Opel/Saturn Astra is available with 18-inch 40-profile wheels as a factory option. Get your head examined if you tick that box.)

    Considering the mental coma that most drivers are in when they’re behind the wheel, I’d prefer them to spend an extra 1500 on blind spot warning systems.

  • avatar
    Johann

    I’ve been driving with my mirrors set this way for about 10 years. You can’t see what is directly behind you in the side mirrors anymore, but heck that is what the central mirror is for! And blindspot accidents happen at far higher speeds than reversing so I’d rather see someone at high speed in that spot on a motorway, than worry about only seeing people behind me in the central mirror.

  • avatar
    Shane Rimmer

    I drove with my mirrors adjusted that way for a while, but found two problems. That setup makes backing into a parking space a bit more difficult. Worse, though, is that it does not provide a proper view of the left-hand lane when driving on a multi-lane highway. I found that, if I had a truck or SUV following me, I could not see far enough back in the left lane to safely move over to pass a car. This was especially bad if somebody is traveling in the left lane at a significantly higher speed. I inadvertently cut people off several times with that mirror adjustment.

    I eventually adjusted my mirrors back to a more traditional orientation to make highway driving safer. I just shoulder check before making lane changes like I did before experimenting with mirror adjustment.

  • avatar

    Shane Rimmer:
    I just shoulder check before making lane changes like I did before experimenting with mirror adjustment.

    Let me get this straight. You move your head while driving, and not just to pick up your dropped phone? I didn’t know that was possible…and neither does my wife, which explains why she backed into my car.

    If only she’d had BLIS.

  • avatar
    Robstar

    toasty> *LOL*

    My wife & I used to have an apartment with A dedicated parking space. I’d stick my motorcycle in the front and when i wasn’t home she’d park behind it.

    She always refused to use the parking break until she pulled up to it, put the car in “P”, and the car drifted just enough forward on engine shutoff to knock my bike over causing about $1k in damages.

    In other news, I have cut her down heavily on cell phone time while driving which makes me proud of myself :-)

    As far as mirrors:

    My daily ride is a bike (the 2 wheel, motorized variety), so I’m use to always shoulder checking……Just a habit I guess. I do it in the car as well. I typically try to look around corners in my car far enough where I end up with the left-front support beam in the center of my vision when turning left :-/

    Btw, if any of you want to see the WORST mirrors ever, try sitting on a 2005 gsx-r 600 and adjusting the mirrors. They are HORRIBLE.

  • avatar
    jerry weber

    It’s like chinese water torture. Newer and more complex ways to make cars heavier, more expensive and harder to maintain. All of this electronics along with all wheel drive to limit the torque steer have helped make the new ford taurus a 4300 pound $43,000 porker similar to caddies and lincolns of old.
    Further, when you trade these electronic nightmares a few years out, the value is going to be less because of the enormous expense of keeping all of the systems going without a warranty for the second owner. We are still building cars out of sheet steel the way Henry did his model T. Shouldn’t there be something by now that takes about 500 pounds from our modern cars?

  • avatar

    jerry weber:
    Shouldn’t there be something by now that takes about 500 pounds from our modern cars?

    Something like high strength steel, aluminum, plastics, or carbon fiber? It’s still easier and more profitable to stick with what you know than move to some of those technologies. They’re slowly trickling down the automotive food chain, but it’ll be awhile before I can buy a Civic with a CF tub.

    Meanwhile, in the U.S. at least, a sizeable portion of us want monstrous wheels and tires on our monstrous vehicles, to haul our monstrous, rolling entertainment systems around so we can subject everyone to our tastes. No need for advanced materials in a market that cares more about rollin’ 24s than fuel economy.

  • avatar
    dougjp

    From ” The Gumball Rally (1976) ”

    ” The first rule of Italian driving. What’s-a-behind me, does not-a-matter. “

  • avatar
    tigeraid

    “If we could train everyone in the United States to do it that way, then I think we would probably be a lot better and we wouldn’t need a system like this,” he says.

    Nor would we need backup cameras.

    Nor would we need parallel park assist.

    Nor would we need adaptive cruise control.

    Nor would we need stability management.

    Nor would we need ABS.

    Unfortunately, the job of the auto industry today is not to build “ultimate driving machines”, but to drive overweight overcomplicated nanny-mobiles that require less and less and less driver training.

    Why? Because America and, to a much lesser extent Canada, need the roads to remain unsafe and the drivers to remain uneducated because ticket renevue makes them more money. The government investing in a proper driver training program would hurt their bottom line.

  • avatar
    BuzzDog

    If you think that today’s “technology nannies” take all of the skill and pleasure out of the driving experience, just wait until all of this technology gets fully integrated – GPS, adaptive cruise control, BLIS and others – into a full “auto pilot” system that does the driving for you on long trips.

    It’s conceivable that a “driver” could read, surf the ‘net or even sleep while the vehicle travels cross-country. And don’t scoff at the idea just yet – it’s indeed possible with current technology. Such a system becomes even more feasible if almost all vehicles on the highway were similarly equipped, as your vehicle could then communicate with others nearby to maintain a safe distance and avoid crashes.

  • avatar

    tigeraid:
    Because America and, to a much lesser extent Canada, need the roads to remain unsafe and the drivers to remain uneducated because ticket renevue makes them more money. The government investing in a proper driver training program would hurt their bottom line.

    That’s a hell of a leap.

    Local, state, or fed, the gov’ment is going to get its money no matter what. The gov’ment is also largely the way it is because the citizens either make or allow it to be that way. I seriously doubt ticket revenues were a consideration in mandating ABS.

    Brutal honesty: Many Americans don’t care about active driving safety. It’s far preferable to introduce passive measures that nannify their rolling cocoons than to require rigorous training. For example, there’s no political will for the U.S. to require Germany’s licensing standard, and no grassroots organization will ever gain the needed support for it.

    BTW, I disagree with a few of your examples. No human can pulse brakes like a good ABS system, and a good stability system can save even the best drivers from an icy crash. True, there are measures that minimize the need for those systems, but they have their place, and they can make even the best drivers safer.

  • avatar
    BuzzDog

    If you think that today’s “technology nannies” take all of the skill and pleasure out of the driving experience, just wait until all of this technology gets fully integrated – GPS, adaptive cruise control, BLIS and others – into a full “auto pilot” system that does the driving for you on long trips.

    It’s conceivable that a “driver” could read, surf the ‘net or even sleep while the vehicle travels cross-country. And don’t scoff at the idea just yet – it’s indeed possible with current technology. Such a system becomes even more feasible if almost all vehicles on the highway were similarly equipped, as your vehicle could then communicate with others nearby to maintain a safe distance and avoid crashes.

  • avatar
    rocketrodeo

    When I started testing BLIS more than a year ago, I didn’t see the utility at first. I’ve come to realize that the feature isn’t intended for the great drivers among us. It’s for the less-than-great ones, or good ones who are subject to moments of distraction or outright stupidity at the worst possible times. That’s more of us than we might care to admit. And not everyone is physically capable of a head check. In the Mazda implementation, there is an audible tone if you deploy your lane-change signal when there is a vehicle in your blind spot. BLIS works on motorcycles too. It’s just a tool to help you be safer. As a motorcyclist, I wish everyone had BLIS.

    The *really* useful aspect of this system is the Cross Traffic Alert. When you’re parked between a couple of SUVs there is no good way, other than dispatching a spotter, to back out of that space safely. Between the camera and the radar, it just works. It works on unpredictable pedestrians too.

  • avatar
    Runfromcheney

    “The driver leans his head against the driver’s window and sets the mirror so that the side of the vehicle is just visible. Then, the driver leans to the middle of the vehicle (between the front seats) and does the same thing with the passenger-side mirror.”

    I do that every time I drive. And I am 17. Fancy gadgets like those blind spot warning systems are reasons why I am losing faith in America. Are we really so stupid that we can’t operate a mirror? We have to have computers bleep at us instead?

  • avatar
    paulie

    Not a very humorous group.
    Yes, I am a moron.
    THAT’S the point.
    To save others from me.
    THAT’S WHY THEY ARE CALLED ACCIDENTS!
    OK?
    So help me here, oh negative ones. WHY do we have any of these features below on the modern car.
    Since those above are great drivers and need none of these.

    Traction Control.
    Just drive in control as I am sure you do.
    Always.
    In rain, snow or around tuns.

    Back Up Cameras.
    JUST LOOK!

    Day Time Running Lights.
    What a waste!
    Except if you have kids out there in this moronic jungle.

    Adaptive Cruise Control!
    PLEASE watch where you are going and stop LaCrossing.

    Stability Control Systems!
    Please…we should turn these OFF ASAP since they only make those great drivers above have less fun.
    Its only we morons that need them.

    Look…enjoy that you live in these modern times and have ore than just one wheel driving your car.
    Yes, even enjoy the batery protection you get with the power shut off IF you are a moron like me and forget to turn the lights off.

  • avatar
    Porsche986

    Anyone ever drive a Saab? Their passenger mirror is curved slightly in it’s outer third to provide a “wider angle”… it takes some getting used to, but this feature has been standard on their cars for nearly 20 years. And trust me, you do get a much wider angled view of the lanes to your right. The only *slight* downside is that it makes using the passenger mirror more difficult to use when parallel parking… but their solution was that when you put the car in reverse the mirror automatically re-orients itself to see the curb area. Simple, elegant, and ummm… standard.

    I test drove a Volvo with BLIS and could not wait to turn the bloody system off… it vibrates the seats, flashes a light, and “dings” whenever a car passes you on the left. Annoying.

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    The easy test of having the side mirrors adjusted correctly is this.
    When an overtaking vehicle passes, as it exits the interior mirror’s field of vision, it should be coming into view in the side mirror’s
    field of vision. As the vehicle exits the side mirror’s field of vision, it should be entering your eye’s field of vision. Every vehicle I have ever driven, there has been reasonable overlap between these two transitions well.

  • avatar
    PartsUnknown

    @Porsche986

    You beat me to it. Been driving Saabs for a decade and that convex passenger mirror is a great feature, and typically Saab – elegant, simple.

  • avatar
    petergottlieb

    I have a car with this feature (a Volvo). I thought it was a gimmick and even made sure I knew how to turn it off when I was talking to the sales person. However, I’ve been converted. It works well and lessens my “workload” as a driver in congested traffic. Obviously, I still don’t switch lanes without actually physically making sure I’m clear, but if I look over and see the light, I don’t have to keep moving my head and looking somewhere other than the road in front of me.

    That said, the wide angle Saab mirror worked well too. I don’t really understand why everyone didn’t start making their mirrors that way years ago.

  • avatar
    Luke42

    I’ve been using this method for years — keep the side-view mirrors spread as widely as possible. It increases my safety dramatically.

    I got pulled over by a rookie cop for it once, though. I was driving on a deserted stretch of dark interstate, where he was waiting. He accidentally left every light on his cruiser on (including his spotlight) and his high-beams while he was sitting by the side of the road. Then he pulled out for some reason. But he decided to hang out in what he thought was my blind-spot. But, since I had my mirrors adjusted correctly, he pretty-much blinded me — the lights were so bright that looking away didn’t do much, and putting my hand over the window to reduct the glare didn’t help much. I slowed way the hell down to encourage him to pass (which is all I can do when any driver insists on hanging out in my blindspot), and he continued to blind me. Pretty soon I’m going 35mph on the Interstate and weaving like a drunk, due to being continually blinded. Holding my hand against the window to block some of the glare probably didn’t help anything. So he pulls me over and shines lights in my eyes some more, until I ask him to consider that I might need my nigh-vision in order to drive. When it’s clear that I’m not drunk, wasn’t speeding, and that my registration is clear, he tells me to have a nice night.

    My retinas still burn thinking about it, and this was probably 10 years ago…

    I still keep my mirrors this way since 12+ years worth of improved safety is worth a lot to me, but it’s not a perfect system.

  • avatar
    npbheights

    We have gone from complaining that Ford made unsafe cars like the Pinto to complaining that Ford is making advanced blind spot sensors.

  • avatar
    jmo

    Further, when you trade these electronic nightmares a few years out, the value is going to be less because of the enormous expense of keeping all of the systems going without a warranty for the second owner.

    Really? All I know that with the advent of these systems cars today are orders of magnitude more reliable and last years longer than they did 20 years ago. It’s just a fact.

  • avatar
    jmo

    Further, when you trade these electronic nightmares a few years out,

    The anti-prius crowd were convinced that all that complexity would make the car unreliable. The fact is all the compexity makes it more reliable.

  • avatar

    Runfromcheney:
    I am 17. Fancy gadgets like those blind spot warning systems are reasons why I am losing faith in America. Are we really so stupid that we can’t operate a mirror?

    Yes.

    You’re young, articulate, and smart, so I’ll be kind. We Americans are too stupid to do a lot of things. Operating mirrors is just another on the list. We’re also quite good at many things, and I’m counting on people like you to pay for my retirement, so don’t lose faith yet.

  • avatar
    wsn

    # jmo :
    August 20th, 2009 at 10:12 am

    The anti-prius crowd were convinced that all that complexity would make the car unreliable. The fact is all the compexity makes it more reliable.

    ———————————————-

    Actually, the complexity didn’t make the reliable. Toyota engineers did. That same complexity would have killed a GM car.

    The anti-prius crowd probably drove exclusively GM previously, and thus the assumption.

    Same with some German fan boys, they always use complexity to excuse MB or BMW for unreliability, while Lexus is both more reliable and more complex.

  • avatar
    kansei

    I drive a Miata with the top down and the mirrors adjusted per the SAE suggestion –but not because the SAE suggests it, more because it’s just common sense. I wish more than 1% of the population had this “common” sense.

    The only problem is once you’ve driven a miata and experience that incredible feeling of having no blind spots at all and an intimate feeling of oneness with the car (i.e. being able to parallel park within a few MM of the curb without even adjusting the right side mirror down to see it) –it makes it a misery to drive anything else.

    On my last car I ordered the euro-spec wide angle driver’s side wing mirror. Is it law that in the U.S. cars can only come with a convex mirror on the passenger side? I’ve never seen a car come standard with a convex driver’s wing mirror here.

  • avatar
    jmo

    Actually, the complexity didn’t make the reliable. Toyota engineers did.

    True, but an engine that is able to turn off when stopped requires an electrically driven AC compressor. Electrically driven accessories are more reliable than belt driven ones. In some cases the very nature of a hybird requires the use of more reliable technologies.

  • avatar
    Vorenus

    This was a Volvo feature first, right? So why is Ford the only manufacturer mentioned in the post?

  • avatar
    frizzlefry

    rocketrodeo:
    The *really* useful aspect of this system is the Cross Traffic Alert. When you’re parked between a couple of SUVs there is no good way, other than dispatching a spotter, to back out of that space safely. Between the camera and the radar, it just works. It works on unpredictable pedestrians too.

    Its a nice system. But I ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS back into parking spots so when I pull out, I’m driving forward and can see everything/everyone. It’s a safety policy a company I used to work for implemented. At first people thought it was stupid to enforce that and we figured it was a make work project for the safety team….after 2 weeks EVERYONE I worked with admited that they loved it and were backing into parking spots everywhere, not just at the office.

  • avatar
    tigeraid

    toasty :
    August 20th, 2009 at 8:35 am

    Brutal honesty: Many Americans don’t care about active driving safety. It’s far preferable to introduce passive measures that nannify their rolling cocoons than to require rigorous training. For example, there’s no political will for the U.S. to require Germany’s licensing standard, and no grassroots organization will ever gain the needed support for it.

    It was a philisophical rant, not a statistical one. It shows the continued laziness and the lack of interest in learning the PRIVALEGE of driving an automobile. And it scares the shit out of me.

    And I’m 28, not some old dude bitching about today’s drivers not caring.

  • avatar
    frizzlefry

    And I’m 28, not some old dude bitching about today’s drivers not caring.

    Its the old dudes that are the worst. My balchony overlooks a parking lot for an elderly centre. They have dances etc Friday and Saturday nights. Watching them play bumper cars as they try and pull out of their parking spots scares me. I guess the first thing to go is your spatial awareness.

  • avatar
    johnthacker

    It works well and lessens my “workload” as a driver in congested traffic. Obviously, I still don’t switch lanes without actually physically making sure I’m clear, but if I look over and see the light, I don’t have to keep moving my head and looking somewhere other than the road in front of me.

    Sure, this makes sense, and I have no problem with people who use the systems like this. It is safer if you just use it as a preliminary veto. I’m just scared of people who brag that it’s saved them from “many” bad lane changes.

    I’d much rather hear people talk about how it’s saved them from rear-ending someone who suddenly braked, because thanks to the system they weren’t looking over their shoulder or such.

  • avatar
    ohsnapback

    My wife has this on her Mazda6 and, in my opinion, it’s pretty much unnecessary.

    The first thing you’ll notice with it is that the little orangish-yellow car symbol lights up anytime you pass someone or they pass you (gets old, real fast).

    The second thing you notice is the little warning beeping that goes off every time you are even remotely close to another car and have to get in front of them quickly, as in a merging situation or about to miss an exit ramp situation (gets old, real fast).

    A much less expensive solution is the Platzer one mentioned here, or a redesign of the shape and size of the side view mirrors (or the addition of a concave supplemental side mirror).

    Honestly, so many of the new features driving up the costs of new cars are borderline useful, in many cases, and outright silly, in many others.

    I am eagerly awaiting my chance to drive one of the higher end luxo cars that can parallel park itself – in a half-assed kind of way.

    I am soooo looking forward to the lack of basic driving skills those who are now in their early teens are going to display throughout their driving lives as I try to avoid them at high speeds on roads and highways across the land.

  • avatar
    jmo

    Your average 737 or A320 is flown buy a very very highly trained pilot.

    Even with all that training if you get too close to another aircraft TCAS goes – “Traffic! Traffic! Decend! Decend! (or Climb! Climb!)” as determinted by the computer.

    If you try to land with the landing gear still up it will go “Woop! Woop! Too low gear! Too low gear!”

    If the former navy top guns need these nannies – and they most certainly do – why would you expect that “training” will help the average motorist.

  • avatar
    frizzlefry

    @jmo

    I think they need them due to operating their plane under the pressures of g-forces, the fact that their planes can go sub-sonic and that collisions can happen below and above as opposed to only in their field of view. I know the landing gear warning is in case the gear gets stuck and does not deploy properly. Learned that one on mythbusters :)

  • avatar
    70 Chevelle SS454

    Since I’m the only thing worth looking at on the road most days, I just angle the mirrors to look at myself.

    If it’s that big of a deal, they’ll get out of my way…

  • avatar

    Since the Concorde was taken out of service, all commercial planes are subsonic. So’s my car, for that matter.

    BLIS is also designed to prevent collisions with objects outside the driver’s field of view (see the small car parked between SUVs example above).

    The myriad warnings possible in a cockpit are all designed to aid the crew in flying safely, as is BLIS.

    As with DRLs, there are good BLIS systems and bad ones. Given the level of annoyance even a good system could produce under some conditions, it seems fitting that a one-ignition-cycle OFF switch be included in the package.

  • avatar
    jmo

    I know the landing gear warning is in case the gear gets stuck and does not deploy properly.

    No, that’s another warning. The “Too Low Gear” warning is for when you are landing and you forgot to put the gear handle into the down position.

    The “gear gets stuck and does not deploy properly” warning only happens after you command the gear to go down and there is a problem.

  • avatar
    jmo

    I think they need them due to operating their plane under the pressures of g-forces

    A 737 or A320 rarely encouter high g loads.

  • avatar
    frizzlefry

    jmo:
    A 737 or A320 rarely encouter high g loads

    you are right, I was more refering to “former navy top guns need these nannies” statement. Lots of g loads there.

    As for the gear warning, gotcha. I guess the warning you are refering to is likely intended to minimize the deaths of a couple hundred passengers…perhaps a couple of lawyers thought it would be a good thing to throw in there to reduce the changes of the plane being blamed for a crash rather than pilot error.

  • avatar
    jmo

    perhaps a couple of lawyers thought it would be a good thing to throw in there to reduce the changes of the plane being blamed for a crash rather than pilot error.

    Not lawyers, engineers trying to reduce the likely hood of the event.

  • avatar
    frizzlefry

    jmo:

    why would you expect that “training” will help the average motorist.

    I don’t expect that it will in all cases. Some people just suck at driving. Some people are just not interested in driving. And to quote Jeremy Clarkson “… if you have no interest in something that means you are no good at it. Which means you should have your license taken away.” I’m not necessarily opposed to blind spot systems, I just think they can be dangerous if not well designed and the fact that they (and cars that park for you etc) exist in the first place is scary because it kind of implies an acknowledgment that people can’t drive. And the people who buy them are basically agreeing that they can’t drive. I find that very concerning.

  • avatar
    jmo

    frizzlefry,

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_Air_Lines_Flight_401

    Planes go “Woop! Woop! Pull Up!” because before they did that pilots had a nasty habit of flying into things – most notably the ground. When EA 401 cashed – it was because the pilots didn’t notice that they had disconnected the autopilot and started to decend until they were about to hit the ground.

    The NTSB didn’t just blame it on pilot error – they began to require GPWS (Ground Proximity Warning Systems) on commerical aircraft because they know it wasn’t enough to just rely on pilot training.

    God knows, if we can’t rely on airline pilots with all their exensive training, we know we can’t just rely on driving training to keep Joe and Jane Sixpack from rear ending and side swiping other cars.

  • avatar
    jmo

    And to quote Jeremy Clarkson “… if you have no interest in something that means you are no good at it. Which means you should have your license taken away.”

    As you are most certainly aware, that’s just not politically or economically feasible. In cases where a solution is not economically or politically feasible it is, in many cases, advisable to find another technological solution. .

  • avatar

    frizzlefry, you scare easily.

    Some people can’t drive, read a map, accurately fire a gun, rock climb, and any manner of other dangerous activities. Using technology to improve the outcome isn’t always a bad thing. If engineers can find a way to make 70 Chevelle SS454’s commute safer for the rest of us, I’m for it. ;)

  • avatar
    KnightRT

    From paul_y, toasty, tigeraid:

    most people are morons.

    We Americans are too stupid to do a lot of things.

    It shows the continued laziness and the lack of interest in learning the PRIVALEGE

    Would you three please stop this? It’s utterly unproductive to assume stupidity. The average person is average, which is generally competent, most of the time, and with occasional lapses in judgment. If you proclaim from your high horse that the country is predominately morons, that’s the fastest way to have me ignore the rest of your post.

    I’m completely in favor of BLIS and most of the safety enhancements in cars today. Accidents and injuries are expensive; a single lack of vigilance can ruin multiple lives, and there’s no extra credit for good driving before then. This business about driver training is nonsense. Even racing drivers make mistakes, and any mistake is one too many. The more technological enhancements to the senses we can have, the better.

  • avatar
    frizzlefry

    As you are most certainly aware, that’s just not politically or economically feasible.

    Certainly not after a person has their license. But we can certainly make driver training and testing better. I love watching “Canada’s worst driver.” The fact that people who, for example, steer off a straight line when they shoulder check got their licenses to begin with boggles my mind. And the fact that the “fix” for this seems to be BLIS really bothers me. I’m not advocating race driver training here, just simple things like on the worst driver show. Make people drive backwards through a figure eight without hitting anything, make people drive on a straight road that splits in two at the end that requires a shoulder check to read a sign that tells them which way to go. Have them drive a roundabout.

    Or just give them another device to help them change lanes. May work, but still does not address the main issue and won’t help them in an emergency accident avoidance situation either. I know that if someone is near me and has to avoid an accident, I don’t want them relying on a little amber light they have learned to ignore telling them that I am beside them.

  • avatar

    KnightRT, since you quoted me, I assume I’m one of “you three” that need to stop. Odd, since I agree with you that there’s a place for BLIS and many other safety systems, and have already said as much in this thread.

    My “We Americans” line was in reference to the language used by an earlier poster, which is also why I quoted that post in my response.

  • avatar
    jmo

    Make people drive backwards through a figure eight without hitting anything, make people drive on a straight road that splits in two at the end that requires a shoulder check to read a sign that tells them which way to go.

    Call your state or provincial representative and make it happen. I have a feeling it’s not politically feasible i.e. you’re not going to get any traction on this issue.

    If in fact there is no political buy in (which I don’t think there will be), BLIS like systems are the most practical way to go.

  • avatar
    frizzlefry

    God knows, if we can’t rely on airline pilots with all their exensive training, we know we can’t just rely on driving training to keep Joe and Jane Sixpack from rear ending and side swiping other cars.

    All the extra safety devices on planes are extra precautions. Because they exist does not mean pilot training quality has gone down. On that “Mayday” show on discovery channel they show pilots who have lost all power and can still land/fly their planes. One pilot lost power and engines. Had to slow down to land on a rural road so he fishtailed his passenger plane sideways like a glider to slow it down and landed safely. I’m all for BLIS etc as an extra layer of security, but if people still can’t change lanes or parallel park without them then they are simply a band-aid for a bigger issue.

  • avatar
    frizzlefry

    Call your state or provincial representative and make it happen. I have a feeling it’s not politically feasible i.e. you’re not going to get any traction on this issue.

    I agree, sadly. But that does not mean we should simply ignore the issue or rely solely on BLIS type systems. In the end, I guess, all we can do is rely on our own training and “driver’s 3rd eye” to avoid accidents…if BLIS existed on every car on the road, my driving habits would not change because I know that Britney Spears may be drowning out the audible alert to blondie that I am in her blind spot.

  • avatar

    frizzlefry:
    I’m all for BLIS etc as an extra layer of security, but if people still can’t change lanes or parallel park without them then they are simply a band-aid for a bigger issue.

    If the “bigger issue” is that some people are simply horrible drivers and shouldn’t be driving, regardless of whatever techno aids are available, then our current legal system already addresses the issue. Screw up too much and you lose your license.

    Proposing stricter DL exams and harsher penalties for driver errors has made a difference in some poor driving behavior (DUI, for instance), but it takes a hell of an effort to make those changes.

  • avatar
    lewissalem

    While the safety value of the blind spot warning system may be negligible, what is not negligible is the cost. There is no way that this “system” is worth $1,600. There are two bulbs and two sensors. How can this cost so much? The days of gouging us on option packages are over, boys. You’ll have to start offering these types of features as standard to help you product stand out in this ultra-competitive market.

  • avatar
    frizzlefry

    While the safety value of the blind spot warning system may be negligible, what is not negligible is the cost. There is no way that this “system” is worth $1,600. There are two bulbs and two sensors. How can this cost so much? The days of gouging us on option packages are over, boys. You’ll have to start offering these types of features as standard to help you product stand out in this ultra-competitive market.

    I’ll be plenty annoyed if I have to get a BLIS as part of a luxury package. I just want the 19 inch gun-metal gray rims please and sirius radio, not a nanny too thanks.

  • avatar
    jmo

    my driving habits would not change because I know that Britney Spears may be drowning out the audible alert to blondie that I am in her blind spot.

    Engineering solution – the chime volume is set to always be louder than what is on the radio.

    On EA 401 the Altitude Deviation warning chime emanated from a speaker in the flight engineers panel – no one heard it as the Flight Engineer was below trying to diagnose a potential gear issue. As a result the plane crashed. Solution – train all pilots to listen for the chime when the flight engineer is out of the cockpit? No, replace the chime with a very loud “Woop! Woop! Pull up!”

  • avatar
    ohsnapback

    ‘Idiocracy’ the movie seems to be prognosticating where we’re headed as a society.

    I’m sure they’ll supplement this blind spot monitoring system with some form of exterior air bag, to keep the paint from rubbing, in case the side windows, rearview & sideview mirrors, and blind spot monitoring system don’t do the trick.

  • avatar

    frizzlefry, manufacturers are already wise to the likes of you. Safety sells, so tieing safety systems to luxury items is a common way to ease you into packages you really don’t want. For example, I wanted side airbags on my 2004 Accord, but had to buy the leather package to get the airbags. I’m sure the engineers wanted every Honda to have those airbags, but they don’t call the Sales shots.

  • avatar
    jmo

    I’m sure they’ll supplement this blind spot monitoring system with some form of exterior air bag, to keep the paint from rubbing, in case the side windows, rearview & sideview mirrors, and blind spot monitoring system don’t do the trick.

    Should we also strip out the electronic nannies from our nations fleet of commerical aircaft? I mean who needs TCAS and GPWS – can’t pilots just look out the window?

  • avatar

    I have been reading all of theses posts about blind spot mirrors and I am amazed at the feedback from everyone’s take on what does and does not work. There is a Blind spot mirror that will blow some of these $1500.+ systems out of the water; called the “Automotive Blind Spot Safety System and Method”. Google it! I read up on it and was intrigued. I think this guy is on to something BIG!

    • 0 avatar
      wmba

      I did google this as you suggested.

      Not entirely to my surprise, I found out that YOU are the inventor.

      Perhaps this has something to do with your enthusiasm.

      As for praising this as a third person endorsement, who do you think we are, babes in the woods?

      Self-serving at the very least, Mr. Hannah. No matter how good your invention is, and maybe it’s better than the slap-chop, I dunno, I’d never buy one from a self-boosting spammer.

      If you had announced to the blog that you had designed a better mirror, and asked for comments, you’d have been 10,000 percent ahead, rather than pushing your product by pretending to be someone else endorsing it.

      Some people never learn.

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