Ford will introduce two new safety features in the US from 2009 to aid drivers' visibility: blind spot mirror and the cross traffic alert with blind spot monitoring system.

The blind spot mirror will become standard equipment - replacing traditional side view mirrors - and features an integrated convex spotter mirror aimed directly at the vehicle's blind spot.

The cross traffic alert with blind spot monitoring system uses radar to alert of cross-path traffic while in reverse and, in forward gears, warn when a vehicle enters the blind spot. The latter is already a feature of some vehicles in Ford's European Volvo range.

The automaker is claiming a market first for the blind spot mirror which, it said, answers customers' demands for better visibility as they change lanes or parallel park.

The traffic alert with blind spot monitor is a radar-based blind spot detection system with the additional capability to help drivers confidently reverse out of a parking space even when there is traffic approaching from the sides.

This optional system will become available from 2009.

Ford's push to develop the blind spot mirror for its lineup is a direct response to customer research, claimed Kelly Kohlstrand with the automaker's advanced product marketing and technology planning team.

"We seek to plan new features that address unmet customer needs," said Kohlstrand. "Customers told us that visibility is important to them and that they specifically desired a more effective outside rearview mirror."

The cross traffic alert feature works in conjunction with the radar-based blind spot monitoring system, using the system's two multiple beam radar modules, which are packaged in the rear quarter panels - one per side. The radar identifies when a vehicle enters the defined blind spot zone and illuminates an indicator light on the corresponding sideview mirror providing a warning that a vehicle is approaching.

Cross traffic alert uses the radar when in reverse to pick up moving objects within a 65-foot range from either the left or right side of the vehicle. The radar also works when backing out of angled parking spaces because its view is wider than just strictly sensing traffic coming at a 90-degree angle.

Conventional systems have limited sideways effectiveness, Ford said. When cross traffic is approaching, two warnings are given: an indicator lights up in the corresponding outside mirror and an audible alert is sounded.