A Toyota Camry Hybrid with Blind Spot Technology being tested with a motorcyclist nearby

According to Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM), motorcyclists formed the highest category of fatalities in 2017 – 4,348 deaths of 64.5% of the total number of recorded deaths related to road traffic accidents. The statistics was almost 3.5 times higher than for fatalities involving occupants in passenger vehicles.

Motorcyclists are clearly a very high-risk group as reported by the World Health Organisation which found that, at the ASEAN level, motorcyclists (including those on 3-wheelers) accounted for 34% of the total road traffic fatalities in the region in 2015.

Noting the significance of the statistics, ASEAN NCAP (the New Car Assessment Program for Southeast Asian Countries) has explored ways to reduce the fatalities and has formulated a Blind Spot Technology Development Test for cars currently available in the Malaysian market. The development test is based on ASEAN NCAP’s 2017-2020 protocol in which the technology is included under the Safety Assist domain. Blind Spot Technology (BST) in the current assessment protocol is part of the requirement in obtaining points for ASEAN NCAP star ratings.

Sensors on the car body detect other vehicles, including motorcycles in the blind spots and the system alerts the driver of their presence.

With BST, collisions with other vehicles, especially motorcycles, coming from either the side or rear of the car can be reduced. This is because the system monitors the area known as the ‘blind spot’ along the sides of the vehicle which are not visible to the driver in the side mirrors. When another vehicle is detected by sensors in the bodywork, the driver is alerted by a warning light on the mirrors and, in some systems, a sound as well. On some models, there may also be a similar alert on the instrument panel or the Head-Up Display.

The system is active only when the turn signal is on, indicating that the driver intends to perform a turn or change of lanes. These are situations when there is a high risk of collision as the driver may not be aware of the other vehicle or motorcyclist nearby.

Recently, ASEAN NCAP conducted its first BST test at Putrajaya, using 10 models which are sold in the ASEAN market. Each vehicle was tested against 10 target motorcycles that are popular in terms of sales in the ASEAN region. Two types of assessment were performed – one during the daytime and another one at night. During the day, all 10 models were tested with the 10 motorcycles while, at night, only 5 models were used (with the same 10 motorcycle models). ASEAN NCAP expects that this development test will be able to assess the effectiveness of different types of BSTs installed in the various models.

“The BST development test marks ASEAN NCAP’s plans in performing actual assessment to test the effectiveness of BST in detecting motorcyclists riding in blind spot zone. This accord with ASEAN NCAP’s objective to reduce motorcyclist fatalities especially during lane-changing action. The test is performed based on the requirement as stipulated in the ISO 17387. This test will also prepare us for our future roadmap for 2021-2030 that will place priority in motorcycle safety by having a special domain for it in the future assessment,” said ASEAN NCAP Secretary-General, Ir. Dr. Khairil Anwar Abu Kassim.

Car manufacturers which provided vehicles for this first BST test were Toyota, Honda, Mazda, Volvo, Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai, while the Motorcycle & Scooter Assemblers And Distributors Association of Malaysia (MASAAM) together with Boon Siew Honda and Hong Leong Yamaha Motor also assisted in the activity.

“This is the first collaborative programme organized between car occupant manufacturers and motorcycle manufacturers with ASEAN NCAP. We are keen to have more collaboration between these two parties in the near future for the betterment of road safety,” he added.

Honda also has an innovative Blind Spot Detection system in some of its models which uses a small camera in the door mirror. The camera displays a real-time image of the area along the side of the car so the driver can see other vehicles, especially motorcyclists. The image is shown on the centre display whenever the turn signals are activated. One advantage is that the driver does not need to turn the head so much to the left to look at the mirror and can just look towards the centre of the dashboard instead.

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[Chips Yap]

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