What You Need to Know About Two Vehicle Safety Features

Company vehicles equipped with newer safety features can be quite challenging for drivers. They have either had little experience using these new features and/or haven’t had an opportunity to understand the technology.

Two safety features that are becoming more and more commonplace in vehicles are a Blind Spot Monitoring system (BSM) and a Backup Camera. While both of these systems are designed to aid in the driving task, they do have some limitations. You still have to be vigilant when driving and remember these systems do not replace careful driving.

Blind Spot Monitoring System (BSM)

How It Works

  • Uses radar based technology that is either mounted in the rear bumper of the vehicle or below the side mirrors.
  • Radar sensors emit and receive electromagnetic waves that are tuned to a specific frequency and distance by the system suppliers.
  • When an approaching vehicle is within the range of the electromagnetic wave, it is reflected off the approaching vehicle and sent back to the primary vehicle.
  • The information is processed by the BSM controller to determine whether or not an alert condition exists. In other words, BSM uses lenses or other sensors to detect if another vehicle has entered in either the left or right blind spot areas.
  • The system displays a visual and/or audio warning to alert the driver of the other vehicle’s presence (if an alert condition exists, the warning lights in the A-pillar or side mirror will be illuminated).
  • The system is not affected by oncoming traffic or parked vehicles.


  • These systems are less accurate on curved roads, and are affected by bad weather – like heavy rain or snow.
  • They may not also not detect other vehicles or objects if the surrounding of the sensor gets polluted with rain, snow, ice or mud.
  • You should look over your shoulder, check the mirrors and display frequently to improve the chances of detecting obstacles.

Backup Camera System

How It Works

  • A camera is mounted on the rear of the vehicle.
  • Some systems incorporate lines to show the backing path in the display.
  • Depending on the vehicle, the display screen may be found on the centre console, in the rearview mirror, or in the sun visor, and provides an image of the area behind the vehicle.
  • Some systems only provide a view from the back of the vehicle, while others pair this view with a sensor that warns (audible alarm) if an object is detected too close to the back of the vehicle.
  • Some systems will apply the brakes automatically to prevent a potential collision.


  • Conditions such as heavy rain, dense fog, darkness, glare, or dirt on the camera will affect the functioning system and can make viewing difficult.
  • The system sensors may also not detect other vehicles or objects if the sensor surrounding gets polluted with rain, snow, or other debris. Even in clear daytime conditions, objects in the camera display may be difficult to see due to sun glare. 
  • When backing a vehicle, it should be no faster than a walking speed (maximum 5km/h).
  • Do not rely solely on these to back your vehicle or change lanes as these can’t judge when it’s safe to do so – that’s still up to the driver.

At the end of the day, remember that nothing can replace the driver’s attention and judgement.

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I am a Fleet Safety Operations Manager with 30 years of experience teaching traffic safety across five provinces, and in four countries. Outside of work, I am an avid traveller, a fervent Flames fan, and a Mustang enthusiast.