Make us your home page
Autos | Mirrors

More mainstream vehicles getting blind-spot monitoring systems

Carmakers are building convex mirrors into the outer upper corner of a vehicle’s side mirrors in more and more models.


Carmakers are building convex mirrors into the outer upper corner of a vehicle’s side mirrors in more and more models.

DETROIT — Lisa Suida doesn't twist her torso or turn her neck anymore to check her blind spot while driving her 2010 Chevrolet Traverse. • Instead, Suida, of Macomb Township, Mich., checks the small convex mirrors built into her car's side mirrors, which show her when a vehicle is driving in her blind spot.

"I feel more secure in traffic knowing who's around me," said Suida, 36, who has two kids.

Drivers who are in the market for a new car soon may look forward to blind-spot-free driving. Automakers are increasingly adding features — simple and high-tech — to uncover blind spots that are responsible for an estimated 395,000 crashes a year.

Blind-spot monitoring systems, which use sensors to detect when something is in a vehicle's blind spot, are expanding from luxury and top-trim levels to mainstream vehicles.

Less-expensive convex mirrors, which are built into the outer upper corner of a vehicle's side mirrors, allow automakers to bring blind-spot-free driving to more-affordable cars and trucks. The convex mirrors cost about $10 to $15 per vehicle.

Ford, for example, committed to making them standard on most new models.

The move is part of Ford's push to spread technology across its lineup. Or, as Ford product planning engineer Kelly Kohlstrand said, taking technology that was unaffordable and "making sure customers have it at hand whether they're driving a Fiesta or driving (a Lincoln) MKS."

The radar-based blind-spot monitoring feature alerts the driver that a car has moved into its blind spot, usually with an icon that lights up in the side mirror.

"It's looking to the side and to the rear of the vehicle," said John Capp, General Motors' director of global active safety and safety innovation.

GM features radar systems as an option on several vehicles, including the Cadillac Escalade and Buick LaCrosse.

"We're looking to put it on more vehicles," Capp said.

The radar-based system alone costs about $250 and is often packaged with other safety features such as rearview cameras.

Blind-spot detection is becoming a more popular feature among consumers. Of more than 42,000 new car buyers polled by AutoPacific this year, 40 percent said they want radar-based blind-spot detection. That's up from 33 percent in 2009.

But high-tech may not always be better.

Another study by AutoPacific, commissioned by auto supplier Magna International — which makes both types of blind-spot systems — showed that of 967 drivers who tried both features in a demonstration, 69 percent preferred the less-expensive convex mirror over the more-expensive radar-based system.

"If you haven't had them before, you instantly appreciate them," said Bob Wheat, general sales manager at Village Ford Dearborn, about convex mirrors.

Stick-on convex mirrors are available at aftermarket parts shops and cost just a few dollars for a pair. But factory-installed versions offer a tailored view of a blind spot, Kohlstrand said.

More mainstream vehicles getting blind-spot monitoring systems 08/18/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 18, 2010 4:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Detroit Free Press.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bigger ships carry Georgia ports to record cargo volumes

    Economic Development

    SAVANNAH, Ga. — Bigger ships arriving through an expanded Panama Canal pushed cargo volumes at Georgia's seaports to record levels in fiscal 2017, the Georgia Ports Authority announced Monday.

    The Port of Savannah moved a record 3.85 million container units in fiscal 2017, the state said, benefiting from the larger ships that can now pass through an expanded Panama Canal.
  2. Dragon ride in Harry Potter section of Universal closing for new themed ride


    Universal Orlando announced Monday that it will close Dragon Challenge for a new "highly themed" Harry Potter ride to open in 2019 — sending wizard fans into a guessing game with hopes for a Floo Powder Network or the maze from the Triwizard Tournament.

    Universal Orlando announced Monday that it will close Dragon Challenge on Sept. 5 for a new "highly themed" Harry Potter ride to open in 2019. The ride, originally the Dueling Dragons roller coaster, was renamed and incorporated into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter when the hugely popular area opened in 2010.
  3. Would you let your company implant a chip in you?

    Working Life

    Would you ask an employee to get a chip implanted in her hand? Sounds invasive and intrusive. But come Aug. 1, one company in Wisconsin will be giving it a try.

    Three Square Market - a developer of software used in vending machines - is offering all of its employees the option to get a microchip implanted between the thumb and forefinger. [Photo from video]
  4. Daniel Lipton resigns as artistic director of Opera Tampa


    TAMPA — Daniel Lipton has resigned as artistic director of Opera Tampa, the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts announced.

    Daniel Lipton became the artistic director and conductor of Opera Tampa in 2012. Lipton replaced the opera's only previous director, Anton Coppola, who retired. [Times file (2012)]
  5. Throwback Tampa Bay station 102.9 goes from R&B jams to WFLA-AM's conservative talk


    Talk radio station WFLA-AM (970) began simulcasting on 102.9 FM in the Tampa area this morning. 

    Tampa's 102.9 is going from Throwback Tampa Bay to WFLA-AM's news radio.