No more van blind spots

Delivery vans have become ubiquitous on urban roads as online shopping continues to grow and devour the retail economy.

Sure, it is great for getting kitty litter to the front door.

But check out the back door of the van. It is metal: you can’t see through it, and neither can the driver.

All that most van drivers have to see what is behind them is two side mirrors, and if you have ever followed a van on your bike it is easy to see why they swoop on a car parking space, change lanes or u-turn so unpredictably.

They can’t see you when you are right behind them.

Now Ford—inventor of the Transit Van—thinks it has the answer: the widescreen HD mirror.

The company has developed a “Smart Mirror” that uses a high-definition camera and screen to give van drivers a wide, clear view of what’s behind them.

The new system helps drivers spot bike riders, pedestrians and other vehicles at roundabouts and before changing lanes, turning or merging.

Ford says the mirror could be particularly effective for delivery drivers who share city streets with pedestrians and riders.

Fitting the new mirror to vans could also potentially reduce accident damage and insurance costs, as well as increase “uptime” – the time that vans spend at work rather than being repaired.

Camera vision aids are now becoming more common on larger freight vehicles.

And in the future it is possible that AI can be used to identify road users such as people on bikes so that drivers can be given a special alert when risk of collision is looming.

This article was made possible by the support of Bicycle Network's members who enable us to make bike riding better in Australia.