Backup Cameras required by law- not the best solution...

Many new vehicles now come with a backup camera, at least as an option or on higher trim levels, in as a feature to enhance the safety of passengers and those outside of the vehicle. An estimated 294 people die annually by drivers of reversing vehicles who aren’t able to see them in the path behind the vehicle.

Most people probably don’t know that Bush passed a law in 2008 requiring backup cameras in all new vehicles no later than 02/28/2011. Due to a number of factors, the NHTSA has pushed the deadline back four different times. The deadline for the final rule on these systems is currently delayed until 01/02/2015. The implementation deadline will be at least a year or more after a final rule is established.

The auto industry initially cited cost as a major roadblock. But now that a majority of vehicles are designed with an in-dash display screen for infotainment and/or navigation systems, the most expensive piece of hardware is already in place. Once the 2015 models are released, Honda will actually be the first automaker to be in compliance voluntarily with backup cameras in every vehicle they sell.

Official estimates show that once all vehicles have backup cameras, 92 to 112 of those 294 annual deaths will be prevented.

But they don’t speculate on how many of those 92-112 saved lives will still suffer traumatic injuries. The effectiveness of the device and the accuracy of their estimates also depend on all drivers USING the backup camera consistently every time they put the car into Reverse…

I’ll be totally honest about it- my 2012 Mazda CX-9 GT (a Large/Full-Size Utility Vehicle, aka SUV) came with a “Rearview Backup Camera” (their terminology) as part of the optional Bose Surround Sound Audio System. I tried using it for a few weeks after I bought the car in late 2012, but I honestly don’t pay any attention to it anymore. I often forget that its even there!

It takes several seconds after putting the gearshift into Reverse for the camera display to appear on the screen. When it does, it’s very disorienting to me in terms of vehicle location, space around me and other cars nearby. Worst of all, when I’m focusing on the display in the center of my dash, I have no peripheral vision to the left of my vehicle to watch for oncoming cars!

I almost caused at least two accidents within 24 hours of buying my CX-9 by backing directly into the path of oncoming cars because I was focused on making sure nothing was behind me on the display screen! Thankfully, Mazda includes a handy feature called a Blind Spot Monitoring System on my particular model that uses radar mounted under the back bumper on both sides to scan for vehicles in adjacent lanes. It is a far more useful feature than I ever expected it to be, but it also scans for oncoming traffic (they call it “Rear Cross-Traffic Alert”) when the gearshift is in the ‘R’ position. So the alarm sounded to let me know that I was, in fact, backing out into traffic moving toward me at 35+ mph despite my clear RearCam view!

I’m a big fan of safety features that actually make people and vehicles safer….but I’m not convinced that Backup Cameras are the best solution……

What do you folks think?

I have seen an awful lot of cars with reversing sensors that still have damage to the bumpers. Now these could have been caused by people hitting them, but all of them?

The sort of person that has to rely on a reversing camera probably has little or no spatial awareness outside their vehicle. If you are focusing on the dashboard screen, you are not looking to the four corners of your vehicle.

The last person to hit one of my bikes was reversing into a space. while they managed to avoid hitting the car behind them, through looking behind the vehicle, the act of swinging the front of the car into the space saw them hit and topple my bike. They were not paying attention to the direction their car was moving.

Please stop adding gimmicks to cars. People who rely on them shouldn’t be allowed to drive.

Right, rear-view mirrors and headlamps are for wussies! :rolleyes:

A few months ago I had someone almost hit me BECAUSE she had a backup camera.
I was backing up out of my parking spot. I was about halfway out when she started backing up. I stopped, honked and before she started to turn her wheel I pulled back into my spot. I looked over and realized that she had her face about 16 inches from her dashboard the entire time and and no actual awareness of her surroundings. The only thing she could see was what was on the screen. She didn’t see me backing up first, she was concentrating so hard on the screen she didn’t even hear me honking at her.
The only time I really use my back up camera is to see if there’s someone walking towards my car in a crowded parking lot*, she was in a minivan and could probably see over both of the cars next to her.

*And in winter I have to remember to wipe the lens of with my finger or it’s useless anyways of it’s covered in road grime.

I highly prefer the ‘Rear Sonar Sensors’ or ‘Rear Park Assist’ or any of the dozen other names they call it. The backup beepers on my mom’s '07 and my sister’s '03 Explorers were great for backing up. I used the side and rearview mirrors to actually see where I was backing, but the beeper (beep frequency increased the closer you got to something) was good for letting me know how much (if any) space I had behind me (which I couldn’t determine from the mirrors).

But they were far from perfect and objects that might be just above or below their range could still whack the bumper. Or if you were backing up too quickly, you might not be able to stop even if the beeper went off and that could cause bumper damage also.

Mazda actuallly added that to the 2013 version of my SUV in addition to a larger touch-screen display that also displays the backup camera…I’d just settle for the sonar sensors and be happy!

Another major problem I have with so many new cars (with or w/o the stupid backup camera) is the touch-screen display replacing much simpler (and safer to use while driving) knobs and buttons for climate control and audio! I didn’t back over anyone today, but I accidentally mowed down a cross-walk full of kids trying to change the radio station! :smack:

I’ve been thinking about trading my CX-9 for a new 2014 Mazda6 Grand Touring 4-door sedan. It gets twice the fuel economy, looks amazing, drives as good as it looks and the trade-in value on my CX-9 would almost make it an even trade (the CX-9 is paid-off).

Out of 100+ Mazda6 Grand Touring models within 250 miles of Atlanta, only six of them don’t have the $2,080 GT Technology Package, which I do NOT want. For an extra $2k and change, it adds Radar Cruise Control, Forward Obstruction Warning (an alarm goes off if the radar senses something in the road ahead)……or you could look out the windshield, Lane Departure Warning System (reads the lines on the highway and sounds an alarm if you move out of your lane UNLESS you signal a lane change OR you are accelerating to pass……and Automatic High Beam Control because pulling on the turn signal level to switch from low to high beams is too distracting…….

The dealer can’t understand why I would possibly NOT want any of those ‘features’???

The car will come standard with Smart City Braking Support- works like FOW (Forward Obstruction Warning) except only under 30km/h AND, if I don’t take evasive action to avoid the collision quickly enough, it will apply full braking force and cut engine power until the car stops! (Note- the dealer can and WILL deactivate it!)

The only other annoying thing is that it has a touch screen navigation display, but it still has buttons for most common functions and there are redundant stereo and Bluetooth phone controls on the steering wheel.

Front Obstruction Warning……I still think it must be a joke….it could be worse, I suppose talking cars could make a comeback! My best friend had an ’84 Chrysler Laser Turbo (Dodge Daytona but uglier) in high school and it talked using the same voice as a Speak-n-Spell! I can still hear it, “Engine overheating! Engine damage may occur,”

I remember when they first started talking about all cars eventually having display screens for navigation, infotainment and they’d be internet-connected. A writer on one of the tech blogs said, “GREAT! Then you can watch yourself crash live on Google Streetview!”

There is a backup camera on my new car and while I’d LOVE to tell you how it works I can’t. You see I live in Canada and it’s February. Since I got the car in December the camera has been covered by slush and salt approximately 98% of the time.

My van had proximity sensors on the bumper which I think were actually much more useful.

Wow. A big, honkin’ 294. But nothing is being done to reduce the 50k+ annual deaths from car crashes.

The problem is human nature. Everything they do to make cars safer just makes us FEEL safer so we drive faster and closer together.

ABS should have reduced collisions by a huge number but instead people just reduced their following distance to their new stopping distance.

My new car also has proximity detectors all around the car. It lets me know when someone is in my blind spot and ostensibly it will tell me when someone is too close to the car. Unfortunately it can’t differentiate between another car being too close at speed and the wall of the drivethru being too close as I idle through. I’m seriously considering turning it off.

How about far more restrictive standards for driver licensing and a major overhaul/increase in public transport?
Increase gasoline and road taxes to pay for it.

My proximity sensors go from ‘sort of annoying’ to ‘completely useless’ in winter. In winter, when I presume they get covered in crap from the road, seem to assume everything is about 20 feet closer then it actually is.

I only have them on because, for some reason, I find them moderately amusing. I did, however, turn of the lane deviation warnings. Again, useless in winter when the car can’t see the lane lines, but you try driving within the lanes 100% of the time. I always though I did, but, nope. Everytime you go around a turn, it beeps. Moving into a left or right turn lane, it beeps. Merging on or off the free way, it beeps. And that doesn’t count all the times you actually do deviate just a little bit. My car must think I’m an alcoholic.

Actually, traffic deaths reached an all-time low in 2011 at 32,479. In 2012, the number was slightly higher at 33,561 (a 3.3% increase). The number dropped (and has remained) below 40k starting in 2008 and decreased each year thru 2011.

“nothing” is pretty harsh considering that annual deaths per 100,000 people is about 10.8 these days, about the same rate as in 1919, and down about 50% from where it was in the early 70’s.

If the original stats only included deaths, I think it’s reasonable to assume that there would also have been a number of non-fatal traumatic injuries which will also be reduced (either in severity or number)

I’m not a huge fan of backup cameras because I think everyone should be driving 1989 Honda Civic hatchbacks, where visibility is so good that you can turn around and see if someone’s put a baby on the ground behind the car, and probably even tell if it needs a diaper change.

But alas, consumers want big dumb SUVs like the Mazda CX-9, and visibility in those things is non-existent. A backup camera allows drivers to actually see what’s behind them before backing out. If it takes a couple seconds to show up on the display screen, then I just consider that punishment for buying a pointless monstrosity instead of something more sensible like a Mazda6 wagon. Seriously OP, you bought a big car that you can’t see out of, and now you refuse to use the provided safety equipment because it hinders your situational awareness somehow (aka driver error) and because you’re impatient. And that means that backup cameras are useless or something.

Good on you for considering downsizing; please do.

FYI, there was NO Mazda6 Wagon when I bought my CX-9. 2007 was the final year for the Mazda6 SportWagon in the U.S. market. The CX-5 had not yet been introduced and the reliability-challenged CX-7 was the only other SUV/CUV option. I can see out of my CX-9 because I know how to properly adjust my mirrors. But no one can see through the tailgate on any vehicle, SUV, CUV, wagon or anything else!

I’ve made it 22k miles without a scratch on it, front or rear…so I must be able to see pretty darn well…

The backup camera acts as an extra eye, which doesn’t hurt. It was never meant to eliminate the tried and true basics, like checking your surroundings. It’s used secondly to my mirrors and other driving techniques, depending on the situation.

As I normally reverse in, it’s also nice for spotting objects below my deck lid, as a preliminary check before using my eyes to move in that direction.

I think this is the problem (focusing on the display while moving backwards). Personally, I don’t focus on the display to back up, similar to how people shouldn’t rely on a blind spot monitor to change lanes. Properly adjust your mirrors and use them, while only relying on the monitor as a backup, not primary.

The same is true for the backup camera. Turn your head in the direction you’re going, scan, and be sure the roadway you’re entering is clear, especially if you’re moving. I mainly use it in parking situations to double check my work or guarantee nothing is behind me. This also means my car is typically stopped, or at the most inching, whenever I’m looking at the camera.

I do agree with you on one point. The rear outward visibility in the '88-'91 Civic Hatchback was amazing, but the crashworthiness probably would be pathetic compared to any new car today.

And everyone doesn’t have the luxury of turning his/her head around and look, we use our mirrors. Turning around to look backing up isn’t exactly easy after a two-level cervical spine fusion! :smack: (Courtesy of a 2005 drunk driver)


Are you using your turn signal when doing this stuff?