What is cross-traffic alert?

  • How does it work?
  • Do you really need it?
  • Parkers explains the tech

Cross-traffic alert uses sensors to monitor and alert drivers to any passing traffic in their blindspot when emerging out of a parking space.

How does it work?

When pulling out of a parking space (usually reversing), cross-traffic alert uses sensors and/or cameras to detect if there’s something in your blindspot that you may not be able to see.

Learn more about blindspot monitoring

If a vehicle is driving past, the car will detect it and alert the driver with an audible or visual warning (sometimes both) so they can take action. If they don’t, some cars are capable of applying the brakes to avoid a collision.

More advanced systems have the ability to recognise cyclists and pedestrians, as well as cars driving past. Other high-tech examples use cameras at the outer edges of a car's bumpers and display an image on the car's infotainment screen.

Learn more about autonomous emergency braking

In most cases, rear-traffic alert works in accordance with a car’s blindspot monitoring system to provide all-round assistance.

Do I need it?

It’s not essential, and often comes as part of optional safety packs on various cars. It’s a useful aid if you’re regularly reversing out of parking spaces onto busy roads, for example.

Also known as

Rear cross-traffic alert, rear-traffic alert

Looking for more jargon-busting motoring meanings? Head over to our Parkers Car Glossary page and take a look at our other definitions.