Best Blind Spot Detection Systems: Get a Little Help Watching the Road
Stay safe with a little extra help from these top sensor kits
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PUBLISHED ON June 14, 2019
Modern automotive technology has come a long way since the invention of the basic side and rearview mirrors and turn signals. In addition to standard seat belts and airbags, most new cars on the road today sport some kind of backup camera; a few even have a new blind spot monitoring system that notifies the driver of potential hazards where they can't see. For older vehicles, however, these safety features simply aren't present, which is why an aftermarket blind spot monitoring system can be a wise investment. If you are wanting to boost your driving safety, check out our guide for some of the best blind spot monitoring systems available today.
- Best OverallBrandmotion RDBS-1500SummarySummaryA blind spot monitoring system that gets as close to OEM factory models as possible.ProsProsA high degree of accuracy. Good range. Includes a few extra accessories to minimize noise when everything is mounted.ConsConsSensors (like most others) don't work well at speeds below 15 miles per hour. Difficulty with detecting objects at the same speed as the vehicle.
- Best ValueAccele BSS200SummarySummaryThe best option to consider if you are looking for a starter package that is relatively easy to install.ProsProsSensors are designed to work on the left and right sides of the bumper and can be painted to match the bumper's color.ConsConsFalse triggers are common with these sensors. The detection capabilities are challenged with stationary objects like barriers.
- Honorable MentionGoshers Radar Blind Spot Sensor KitSummarySummaryOne of the best blind spot monitor kits to consider if you want the most in terms of simplicity in installation.ProsProsSensors can be installed without the need for drilling into the bumper. Works with any vehicle that has a plastic bumper.ConsConsSensor placement is tricky with the set. The wrong placement leads to an increase in false triggers.
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Why Buy a Blind Spot Detection System
- Increase your driving awareness. A single pair of eyes can only look at so many things at once. When you have a lot of different things going on around your vehicle, it helps to have as much extra coverage for your senses as possible. A blind spot monitoring system does just this by consistently viewing the spots you can't always track while driving.
- Increase response time. Reaction time can be the difference between life and death. In order to respond to something, you need to actually notice it in the first place. Blind spot sensors tend to be more effective than mirrors alone since they give an active notification of something that is nearby or in the blind spot itself. With mirrors, you still have to see the reflection in order to react accordingly.
- Make passengers feel safer. Few people will argue with the opportunity to ride in a car that increases safety however possible. With a blind spot monitoring system, you can give passengers some extra piece of mind when riding in an older vehicle. Better still, the basic indicators notify everyone in the vehicle, so extra passengers can help you notice important things in tandem with the sensors.
Types of Blind Spot Detection Systems
The most common type of blind spot monitoring system is the one automotive manufacturers offer as standard or as an upgrade feature at certain trim levels. While more and more manufacturers are starting to offer these systems free-of-charge, most continue to reserve them for more expensive vehicles. As a result, they tend to be custom-tailored for the specific model, making few (if any) compatible with older vehicles.
Aftermarket blind spot monitoring kits make up a small market, but it continues to grow as more startups and major automotive accessory companies begin to offer custom-designed kits for a variety of cars. Many of these kits are meant to be near-universal in application, meaning you don't have to worry about the make, model, and age of your vehicle quite as much. With that said, accuracy tends to be less than factory-installed kits, but this varies between different options.
Top Brands of Blind Spot Detection Systems
In a space that lacks recognizable brand names outside of automotive manufacturers making in-car blind spot monitoring systems, Brandmotion has started to emerge as the niche leader. Formed in 2005, the company makes a range of 12-volt devices that enhance the driving experience of older vehicles lacking modern-day safety and convenience touches. The RDBS-1500 is the company's primary blind spot monitoring system.
Blind Spot Detection System Pricing
- $250 and under: Budget blind spot monitoring systems tend to be limited in functionality and accuracy. Most come with a couple of sensors and basic indicators.
- $250-$500: The midrange of blind spot monitoring systems increases the accuracy of the included sensors, but most still fail to match the performance of OEM systems found on most modern cars.
- $500 and above: For the most reliability and accuracy, this is the range you will need to consider. Here, sensor accuracy is high, and the internal controls tend to use advanced algorithms to reduce false triggers as much as possible.
Sensors are the eyes of any blind spot monitoring system. Using different technologies like radar, sonar, and lidar, a sensor can "sense" the environment in front. Generally, a blind spot system will use two or more sensors to cover different sides of the vehicle. When something enters into the "view" of the sensor at or above a specific speed, the sensor will trigger the indicator.
Notification is important for any blind spot monitor system; otherwise, you would have no way of knowing when a sensor is tripped. Indicators come in many forms, but most aftermarket kits use a combination of visual LED lights and an audible alarm to notify you. Many systems will also give you some control over the notifications, like the volume level of the alarm.
- Accuracy: One thing that varies somewhat with different systems is the accuracy of the sensors. Essentially, accuracy for blind spot detection is how well the sensors can ignore false triggers (things that don't present a danger) without ignoring anything that needs to be noticed. High-quality sensors tend to offer better accuracy, but keeping false trigger rates down also requires an advanced controller programmed to differentiate positive and false triggers as much as possible.
- Installation: To use a blind spot monitoring system, assuming your car doesn't come with one, will require installation. Professional installation tends to be the easiest route if you want good results, but many kits to make it somewhat easy to install the individual components yourself. In these cases, separate parts like the sensors and indicators will need to be mounted, usually using a drill and some fasteners.
Best Blind Spot Detection Systems Reviews & Recommendations 2019
Best Overall: Brandmotion RDBS-1500
This blind spot monitoring system is about as close as you can get to the quality and capability that factory-installed versions offer. Using radar sensors, the system offers a high level of accuracy (claiming to eliminate 95 percent of false triggers) to monitor blind spots and cross traffic when backing up. The kit also comes with a few extra accessories like foam wraps to make installation easier and to eliminate any noises common with aftermarket solutions.
The system relies on a CAN-wire connection and radar-based sensors to detect vehicles moving at speeds greater than 15 miles per hour. Anything below this minimum speed is ignored. The speed detection also works when the vehicle is in motion, so it can keep an eye on lane traffic without triggering a warning every time a car passes in another lane. The detection range is around 40 feet behind the vehicle, and the sensors are designed to detect anything between the size of a motorcycle and a semi-truck.
Unfortunately, the sensors are limited in usefulness when the vehicle is moving below 15 miles per hour as well. At these speeds, only the rear cross traffic alert works in parking situations. Detecting objects moving roughly at the same speed is also difficult when it's necessary (i.e. when changing lanes with an occupied vehicle in the blind spot) since the computer lacks the sensitivity of factory models.
Best Value: Accele BSS200
The Accele Electronics Safesight BSS200 Sensor Kit offers a good starter package to add some basic detection capabilities to your vehicle without a lot of complicated installation and setup. Coming with a left and right bumper sensor, this system offers some versatility with the placement and looks of the sensors as well. With a paintable surface, each sensor can be installed and painted to match the bumper to remain out of sight if desired.
Installation includes mounting the sensors, control box, LED indicators, and speaker, then connecting everything with a five-wire installation harness (with an extension harness if necessary). A hole saw is included for the mounting process as well. Installation can take around four or five hours when done alone. Giving both an audible and visual cue when traffic is detected, the system is rather inconspicuous when not in use.
The main drawback with a budget system like this is its detection capabilities. While the sensors do a good job of detecting traffic at different speeds from the base vehicle (i.e. things traveling faster than your car), they are prone to false signals. In particular, the sensors tend to go off when detecting stationary objects like signposts and barriers while at speed. Installation is also a bit of a challenge due to unclear written instructions.
Honorable Mention: Goshers Radar Blind Spot Sensor Kit
Goshers offers a simple kit that contains two rear sensors, two LED indicators, a speaker, GPS-based speed controller, and a complete wiring kit to connect everything together. While the company recommends professional installation, it has designed the sensors to be as simple to install as possible, making it a good choice to consider if you aren't handy with a drill. In fact, the sensors, unlike traditional aftermarket kits, can mount to most plastic bumper covers without the need to drill or paint.
With the only main requirement from the mounting vehicle being the presence of plastic bumpers, the kit is fairly versatile in installation. Whether installed by a professional or by yourself, the sensors have a great range of detection at 49 feet. The LED indicators and alert unit are also unobtrusive yet noticeable when the system actually detects the presence of another vehicle in a blind spot. Both sensors offer blind spot and rear cross traffic monitoring capabilities.
Accuracy and the limitation of false detections heavily depend on the proper placement and installation of the sensors. While the kit is easier to install than others, there may be some trial and error to find the right spot before you get the best results in terms of accuracy. Specifically, placement along with the bumper and the proper orientation of the sensors both play a heavy role in minimizing the false triggers that typically confuse blind spot monitoring systems.
- You may have to play around with the placement of sensors before making holes in your car. Try some tape or velcro to see what works during installation.
- Make sure you mount the LED indicators somewhere you can see them without averting your eyes from the road. Many kits will have recommendations or instructions on proper indication placement.
- Read the instructions carefully if you choose to install a blind spot monitoring kit yourself. Many kits require permanent alterations of the vehicle like drilling, so mistakes can be costly.
Q. How does blind spot monitoring work?
A. A sensor projects a beam (light, radio, etc) that bounces back when reflecting off of the surface of another vehicle. Based on the timing of the returning beam, the system can detect the object and alert the driver.
Q. Is blind spot monitoring required for new vehicles?
A. It's not legally required, but many manufacturers offer some kind of blind spot monitoring system as a standard or upgrade feature.
Q. Is blind spot monitoring reliable?
A. It depends on the system since false trigger rates vary. Even the most reliable systems, however, are no substitute for using your mirrors, checking your own blind spots, and other safe driving habits.
When it comes to getting a blind spot monitoring system that nearly rivals factory-made options, the Brandmotion RDBS-1500 is your best bet.
If you can settle with less accuracy, however, the Accele BSS200 is a great solution for the price.