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Blind-Spot Monitoring and Lane-Departure Warnings

AAA Advises Drivers to Know the Limits When Using Blind Spot and Lane Departure Systems

recent AAA study evaluated blind-spot monitoring and lane-departure warning systems to catalog their performance in a variety of traffic conditions.  The research, conducted with the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center, found that:

  • Blind-spot monitoring systems had difficulty detecting fast-moving vehicles, such as when merging onto a busy highway. Alerts were often provided too late for evasive action.
  • Motorcycles were detected by blind-spot monitoring systems 26 percent later than passenger vehicles.
  • Road conditions were often a problem for lane-departure warning systems. Worn pavement markers, construction zones and intersections can cause the lane-departure warning system to lose track of lane location.
  • The litany of alerts and warnings could be confusing.  Auditory, visual or haptic responses – or a combination – could be similar to other advanced driver assistance features that delivered the same warnings.

Drivers can effectively interact with these systems by:

  • Gaining experience with the technology. Both systems are effective, convenient solutions to help reduce driver workload. However, there are limitations, and systems vary greatly. Motorists should consult the vehicle’s owner’s manual to determine how the systems work before driving the vehicle.
  • Staying engaged. AAA found instances when the blind-spot monitoring system did not provide appropriate warnings or delivered the alarm when the approaching vehicle was only a few feet away. Drivers relying on these systems may not have had time to maneuver to safety.

Drivers will encounter these systems more frequently as automakers migrate the technology from luxury models to mainstream vehicles. Engineers are continuously working to improve the design and efficiency of these systems, increasing their value to motorists. Although the systems introduce automation to the driving experience, they are not a substitute for an engaged driver.