blind-spot-monitor-car-mirror

In a comprehensive report of various automobile safety systems, the American Automobile Association (AAA) released intriguing findings about blindspot monitoring systems, with some thoughts as how they pertain to motorcycles.

While the driver aid systems are exactly that, systems designed to aid a driver in operating a passenger vehicle safely, AAA found that not only were drivers relying on them to heavily, in lieu of safe driving practices, but also that in certain situations the systems operated sub-optimally.

The study’s findings that pertain the most to motorcyclists are those on blindspot monitor systems, which AAA found have a hard time detecting fast-moving vehicles, and often served warnings too late for an evasive action to take place by the automobile driver.

Specifically, AAA found that motorcycles were detected by blindspot monitoring systems 26% slower than a typical passenger vehicle. AAA also found a wide-range of abilities in the systems of different manufacturers, with some systems having such a short detection range as not to be effective at all in avoiding an incident.

That conclusion is an important one as autonomous vehicles become a larger reality in the vehicle landscape, and as autonomous-like features become more standard on consumer vehicles (AAA reports that 75% of 2014 model-year vehicles offer a blindspot detection system).

One of the key issues we have been discussing here at Asphalt & Rubber is how the future motorcycles will evolve as these autonomous vehicles become more prevalent on the roadway — with a key focus on how motorcycles, as outliers to traffic patterns, can confound these systems.

The AAA’s report is perhaps the first evidence that automobile manufacturers and lawmakers need to take a closer look at how these systems operate, not only on roadways filled with other cars, but also with motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.

Source: AAA via Bikes in the Fast Lane

  • Keith

    heh, I called it. They don’t work. As for your worry about autonomous autos and truck, I’ll just treat them like I do now. They are nothing but a rolling chicane.

  • paulus

    The automobile industry is behind semi/fully autonomous technologies. They have the money and pressure to make it happen. You can be sure that problems will be overcome with technology and/or legislation.

    Tinfoil hat time – Possible industry suggestions to improve detection – add recognition aids?
    RFID required on all future vehicles sold?
    Data tracking and telemetry recording for incidents analysis?
    How could all these technologies be used by manufacturers, insurers, governments?

    No thanks.

    People should be ultimately responsible for their driving… backed up by technology. Not the other way around.

  • tanau

    I have it on good authority that a solid number of the google autonomous car team are in fact motorcyclists.
    Hopefully they will perform better than the “smart” traffic light people did at accommodating motorcycles.

  • horkn

    This is odd. When passing cars on the freeway on my bike, I pay attention if and when cars with BSD notice me. I’ve never seen one not work properly. Now, keep in mind this is if I am passing the car at a non absurd rate of speed. When I pass a car at ludicrous speed, I don’t bother to look for BSD warnings. I look for moving cage with my eyes warnings at that point.

  • horkn

    This is odd. When passing cars on the freeway on my bike, I pay attention if and when cars with BSD notice me. I’ve never seen one not work properly. Now, keep in mind this is if I am passing the car at a non absurd rate of speed. When I pass a car at ludicrous speed, I don’t bother to look for BSD warnings. I look for moving cage with my eyes warnings at that point.

  • Pete H.

    My experiences mirror horkn. I haven’t compared distances on my motorcycle to those in my car, but it seems to pick up my bike well before I’m even with the rear bumper. I’ll take it over drivers not checking mirrors that aren’t even adjusted properly in the first place.

  • Jeremy

    Hrm… most cagers cant be bothered with such details. I would say the 100% of cagers that dont check their blind spots, dont check their blind spots. :D

  • Mitch

    I have had more success arguing people out of the idea of a divine creation of the universe, than the fact that side mirrors can be adjust to eliminate blind spots.

    me: God is dead
    them: Maybe

    me: your side mirrors are adjusted so they look backwards, your rear view mirror does that, your side mirrors need to be rotated out so that you can’t see the sides of your own car anymore, when you get them out far enough you can watch a vehicle move from your rear to your sides to your peripheral vision without moving your head and you don’t have blind spots at your flanks anymore
    them: fuck you you’re wrong I’m never moving my side mirrors

  • eric

    Does it really matter that it takes 26% longer? We’re talking milliseconds here. Is 1.26 times longer really going to make a difference in fractions of a second?

  • teanau

    Without crumple zones milliseconds are all we have!
    The moment we mount a bike, milliseconds are our most precious currency.
    I can guarantee anyone recovering from an accident would trade anything for another 10 – 250 meticulously managed milliseconds.

  • Piglet2010

    Mitch says: “I have had more success arguing people out of the idea of a divine creation of the universe, than the fact that side mirrors can be adjust to eliminate blind spots.”

    Once the mirrors are adjusted that way, the driver can no longer judge angles (and therefore distances) to vehicles seen in the mirrors. Tried it, hated it, and believe it is more dangerous that “conventional” mirror settings combined with shoulder checks.

  • Mitch
  • MikeG81

    “AAA found that not only were drivers relying on them to heavily, in lieu of safe driving practices”

    To the surprise of no one.

  • crshnbrn

    @ Piglet2010 +1

    I have the mirrors on my truck adjusted so the side of the truck is just barely visible in the side of the image in the mirror for reference. I have the mirrors of my bikes adjusted so my shoulder is visible in the lower inside of the image for reference also. For anything further out I turn my head even if I’m relatively certain nothing could be there. A habit I developed riding in urban areas where drivers get in blind spots and just stay there.

    @ Mitch

    God or mirrors, believe in what works for you.

  • Xan

    “AAA found that not only were drivers relying on them to heavily, in lieu of safe driving practices”

    I’m still probably going to call this a win, since prior to blind spot monitoring the same people still didn’t use safe driving practices. I’m all about education and folks driving correctly, but let’s be real, you’re never going to be successful in training the person who is doing their makeup, eating, texting, whatever until maybe after they kill or maim someone, and even then it’s a toss up.

    At least with a visual and audible warning, they are less likely to plow into me than before.