Unless you’re one of the lucky ones with a new Infiniti EX35 that has that high-tech option of a 360-degree surround-view camera (which is great for aiding in parallel parking), then you know that blind spots are a fact of life when driving. Whether it’s changing lanes, or parking, or any other activity where it’s important to know where your car is in relationship to its surroundings, a quick glance at your side- and rear-view mirrors may not tell you everything about what’s happening in your immediate vicinity.
Starting in 2009, Ford will offer two features that will help drivers find out what’s in their blind spots. The first is similar to what’s been available in the after-market for some time: a small convex “spotter” mirror embedded in the side mirrors of a car, which is focused on the car’s blind-spot areas. This will allow the driver to see, at a glance, what was formerly hidden from view—especially useful when you’re driving at a fast clip on the freeway and want to make a lane change, but can’t see the small compact car in the next lane because it’s in your blind spot.
The second feature is a bit more high-tech: it’s called a “cross-traffic alert system with blind-spot monitoring,” and is basically a form of radar designed to help drivers exit parking spaces safely when there might be other cars blocking the driver’s field of vision. The system relies on two multiple-beam radar sensors hidden in the two rear quarter panels; when triggered, an instrument-panel indicator is lit to warn the driver about the obstacle.
Ford did not say specifically which vehicles would gain these features first, but indicated that this would be offered throughout its lineup.
Our take? Our concern with such devices is that drivers will get used to them to the point that they’ll forget to check the blindspot when in a non-equipped vehicle.