Vehicle Backup Camera

Vehicle Backup Camera

Do Rearview Cameras Really Prevent Accidents?

Federal authorities, for years, have been saying there need to be rearview cameras on vehicles. The reason? Drivers back into stuff - poles, walls, fences, people. Usually, these “backover accidents” occur when a vehicle is pulling out of a parking spot or exiting a driveway. The visibility around the vehicle, especially on the driver's side, is extremely limited.

Janette Fennell is the president of Kids And Cars, a non profit safety organization which tracks backover accidents. The distressing news, Janette says, is that most backover victims are toddlers between 1 and 2 years old, “Children are quick and they are fast but we are not going to re-engineer the kids; we need to re-engineer the vehicles.”

 

When a driver is backing up, trying to get out of a driveway, he/she has difficulties seeing small kids playing behind the car, as they are in the car's blind zone. While all vehicles have bllnd zones, blind zones are bigger in bigger vehicles like vans, SUVs and trucks. The average blind zone is 28 feet for vans; for SUVs it is 39 feet, and for trucks a whopping 50 feet(!); and people don't understand just how large that blind zone is.  

 

Cameras Versus Parking Sensors

In addition to being extra careful and making sure children are out of the way, there are a couple of devices that can help drivers avoid these accidents. While in the past, parking sensors were thought to be effective a recent study conducted by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS), reveals that rear cameras are more helpful to drivers when trying to avoid backover crashes.

 

The institute tested both rear camera and parking sensor systems, with volunteer drivers in an empty parking lot in Los Angeles, and found that cameras are more effective than sensors. What's more, researchers discovered that cameras work better by themselves than if they are combined with parking sensors.

 

Are Rearview Cameras In New Cars The Law?

 

Over the past few years, a lot of evidence of the effectiveness of backup cameras in preventing backover crashes has been collected, and due to the evidence, the government decided to enact a law that would mandate that automakers install such devices in all new vehicles.  

 

However, even though the Department of Transportation proposed the rule back in 2008, and it was supposed to go into effect by 2011, it still hasn't happened, because of the strong opposition from car manufacturers, claiming that it would be too expensive for them. That being said, many car makers are installing backup cameras in their vehicles, even without a law that requires it, and over 50% of new vehicles today are equipped with these systems.

 

On March 31, 2014, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) finalized a long-delayed regulation meant to reduce back-overs. The regulation sets a 2018 deadline for rearview monitoring technology to be standard on vehicles sold or leased in the United States. In most vehicles, the technology will consist of a back-up camera. But you don't have to buy a new car to get one. Aftermarket rearview cameras are available at car audio, auto parts, and big-box electronic stores. Last year, the Auto Club's Automotive Research Center (ARC) tested both factory-installed and aftermarket rearview cameras. They generally all worked well, increasing visibility in the blind zone by an average of 46 percent.

Don’t Be Fooled Into Complacency

 

It is important to remember that it is not a 100 percent improvement. A single camera lens typically mounted near the license plate doesn't see all - a cat or a child under the bumper, for example. Pavement that slopes up sharply behind a car makes objects appear farther away than they are. And, snow and dirt can cloud the lens and so on.

 

Alarmingly, the IIHS also discovered that if the object was in the shade, nearly every driver hit it, despite first checking the monitor before backing up. All of which means that a rearview camera is no substitute for walking around your car and looking in mirrors and over your shoulder before throwing your car into reverse. 
 

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