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Volvo Offers Advanced Blind Spot Monitoring

In keeping with its long-standing tradition of emphasizing safety features, Volvo now offers an optional system to monitor the area to the side and rear of a car popularly known as the "blind spot." Volvo was the first company to introduce wide-angle mirrors on car doors in 1979 and now the company is utilizing cameras to enhance driver awareness in moving traffic. (The system will not alert the driver to parked cars or other types of static objects.)

The Volvo Blind Spot Information system is a $595 option comprised of three parts. The most noticeable, the indicator, appears at the bottom corner of the front windows above the sound system's tweeter. The translucent square shows orange when another vehicle is in the blind spot. The system's second, and most vital component, is the camera mounted adjacent to the side mirror which actually performs the monitoring. (Note that there is a camera located under each side mirror.) Finally, there's a switch on the center stack to turn the system on and off that is labeled "BLIS."

The system will recognize both regular sized vehicles (cars and trucks) and motorcycles in both daylight and night-time driving conditions. The technology will respond to any car moving at a speed of more than 6 mph and those that are driving as much as 12 mph slower and 43 mph faster than the car on which the system itself is mounted. It should be noted, however, that in conditions where the visibility is poor, like fog or heavy snow, the BLIS will not work and will inform the driver of that fact.

No doubt in an effort to avoid potential litigation, Volvo says the BLIS system is designed to provide the driver with "information," not to act as a clearance or warning signal. Reviewers who have driven Volvos outfitted with the BLIS suggest that new car owners should "learn" the system by using the mirrors to observe exactly where a car approaching from the rear is located when the indicator light activates. All agree that the BLIS allows for a "generous" amount of space for lane changes. The technology is meant to compliment the driver's own judgment of the current traffic pattern, not to take the place of the appropriate use of the mirrors or to override decisions based on years of driving experience.

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