Most people do not take the decision to purchase a new car lightly. Besides the shear cost of vehicles these days, the car buying process can be a daunting one given the plethora of models, packages, dealer add-ons, and financing options. Depending on how much work is done to prepare for the purchase, it can be a fun experience or a dreadful one.
My wife and I recently went through the process of purchasing a new car. We researched vehicles for almost a year before we decided on the make and model of the car we wanted. We walked into the dealership with a pre-negotiated price, our own financing, and a list of the upgrades we wanted. Given the timing of the purchase, the next year’s models had just hit the lot, but we thought there wouldn’t be any significant changes to the newer model, so we would stick with the current one. For the most part we were correct except for a new feature called the blind spot monitoring system.
The automaker offered two options in this system: a blind spot intervention (BSI) and a blind spot warning (BSW). Radar sensors on each side of the vehicle alert the driver when another car is in their blind spot by flashing an indicator light on both sides of the cabin. If a driver ignores the warning and tries to change lanes, the car will flash and beep at them. If the driver still attempts a lane change, the BSI will activate, applying the brakes to the opposite side of the car in an attempt to pull the vehicle back into its lane.
We debated for a while if this feature was a gimmick and if it was worth the money. I was taught to just look over my shoulders. The salesman overheard our conversation and added his two cents by letting us know that automakers are building cars with poor visibility, making it difficult for drivers to do the over-the-shoulder check before switching lanes. He went on to add that on test-drives most never check their blind spots. We ultimately decided not to purchase the package with the BSW and BSI, but it made me wonder.
What it would be like to have a blind spot warning or intervention system for people?
Do we have poor visibility?
Do we lack self-awareness?
How often do we check our blind spots before “switching lanes”?
Is looking over your shoulder even enough?
Do we ignore the clues that let us know that we are drifting?
Human blinds spots can be hard to find because they are often buried in denial. Denial is a refusal to believe in something or admit that something exists. There is also an inability to recognize or unwillingness to deal with the proverbial elephant in the room. Even when there are “indicators” or “beeps” telling you to get back into your lane, people still veer out of their lane, sometimes resulting in damage to themselves and others. This inability or unwillingness is often rooted in the sometimes-unpleasant nature of the truth and the perception that feedback is accusatory. Denial is a close relative of fear, which functions to protect the ego and requires a substantial investment of energy.
Redirecting that energy to search for your blind spots can be a difficult undertaking, but it can lead to a transcendent accomplishment. Identifying your own blind spots is an exercise in contradiction, because if you can see them, they are no longer blind to you. So how do you find your blind spots? Blind spots are repetitive experiences that make you question why something always happens to you. For example: you keep ending up in jobs you hate, you always have a terrible boss, you have “bad luck”, or people consistently perceive you differently than you see yourself.
If the evidence suggests that you have blind spots, you can try to eliminate them by first asking yourself why am I afraid to see what is really happening? Fear is the archenemy of acceptance, which allows you recognize and acknowledge what is actually happening.
While tackling your fears may lead to some meaningful insights, the more efficient approach may be soliciting feedback from others. I would recommend starting with someone closest to you and then branching out. Astonishingly, even relative strangers can be good resources for feedback. Even though I know how valuable honest feedback can be, I still have to force myself to ask for it. Any form of feedback is scary. But the kind that tackles your blind spots can be unbearable.
So while I passed on the BSI and BSW for my car, I would surely pay top dollar to have it for myself. What about you?
Be on the look out for Conrod’s upcoming book.