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?