Are Blind Spot Monitors Safe?

January 9, 2024
Our Chester County Car Accident Lawyers at Eckell Sparks Represent Clients Involved in Blind Spot Accidents

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) claims that nine percent of reported accidents result from merges and lane changes. That is a good reason to use blind spot monitors (BSMs) when driving, but are they always safe?

A BSM is supposed to keep watch on the space by a vehicle’s rear quarter areas. That part of a car can hide approaching vehicles in adjacent lanes, even when the rearview mirrors are properly set. A BSM system uses seniors in the vehicle’s rear bumper and side mirrors to detect approaching cars and trucks from both sides. Manufacturers build these systems differently but issue warnings when another vehicle is in the blind spot.

The standard BSM alert is an indicator light, typically visible on the instrument panel or sideview mirror. It may be accompanied by a warning chime when drivers venture into an approaching vehicle’s path. If you activate the turn signal when something is in the blind spot, the warning may become more noticeable.

These systems can help avoid collisions but are meant to be an aid, not a substitute for defensive driving. In other words, it is not wise to completely rely on them. Some BSM systems do not detect fast-moving vehicles accurately, with late alerts; others have issues detecting motorcycles.

However, BSM systems can be beneficial. A Traffic Injury Prevention journal study showed that lane-change accident involvement rates decreased by 14 percent with vehicles using active BSMs. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) claimed a 23 percent drop in lane-change collisions with injuries from vehicles using active BSMs.

Safety Tips for Using BSMs

BSMs are meant to be used as aids. Always check your mirrors with your own eyes before changing lanes or merging. Before using a BSM, read the vehicle manual and set it up according to the instructions – otherwise, it might be turned off when you think it is on. Clean off the cameras and sensors occasionally, removing mud, snow, dust, or other debris.

For added protection, look for vehicles with blind spot warning with automatic emergency steering. These systems automatically steer or apply the brakes when drivers attempt to change lanes when vehicles are in their blind spots. Fortunately, the costs of these technologies have decreased in recent years, so BSMs are available in many kinds of cars instead of just luxury models.

Also, remember that BSM is not always practical. Be extra vigilant when merging and at intersections. Making left turns across traffic can also be more dangerous because the maneuver usually creates larger blind spots.

Our Chester County Car Accident Lawyers at Eckell Sparks Represent Clients Involved in Blind Spot Accidents

A BSM system is an effective vehicle safety feature, but drivers who have them still get into collisions. Contact our skilled Chester County car accident lawyers at Eckell, Sparks, Levy, Auerbach, Monte, Sloane, Matthews & Auslander, P.C. if you need legal guidance after a crash. Call 610-565-3701 or complete our online form to schedule a consultation. Located in Media and West Chester, Pennsylvania, we serve clients in Delaware County, Chester County, and Montgomery County.