Children are injured or killed on a daily basis because of people reversing over them in cars. It’s not always the driver’s fault; there are blind-spots – areas that the driver can’t see from his/her seat.
Sensory systems and rear-view cameras are two items which are sometimes available in new cars now, but these devices do have limitations.
With the growing number of back-over deaths and injuries, will the U.S. Department of Transportation begin to enforce the rear-view camera rule passed by Congress, or will the questions about the effectiveness of these systems continue to delay the regulations?
How Backup Cameras and Sensory Systems Work
Sensory systems have a sensor, similar to that in your Xbox Kinect or Nintendo Wii, that tells you when you are close to an object. Some models will beep louder and quicker as you get closer to that object. The main issue is that these systems don’t tell you exactly what is behind; just that there is something there. They don’t tell you exactly how far away the item is either.
Backup cameras have a small camera placed into the number plate or rear bumper of the car. This is then connected wirelessly or through wires to your satellite navigation system, or to a monitor that replaces your rear-view mirror. Whenever your car is in reverse, the screen on your system switches to the camera so you can see everything behind you. This eliminates the blind spot completely, and when used properly (and there are no malfunctions) could save lives.
Rear-View Cameras: Limitations
There are different types of angles available for cameras. The wide-angle lenses are the best but some come with fish-angle lenses. The view can be slightly distorted and there are still some blind-spots to look out for. The wide-angle lenses aren’t foolproof but very promising.
When it comes to seeing what is behind you, the cameras are better than the beep-beep of sensory indicators. You can see whether it is a stationary wall you’re about to back into, or a small child running into the road. However, the monitors can prove to be problematic.
One of the main issues is how small the monitors are. When not connected to your satellite navigation system, the monitors have to fit to your rear-view mirror. This is a natural place to look but the mini-monitor could lead you to miss something, especially in the far corners.
Wired systems are problematic too. It is important to have a professional install any rear-view camera system, as they are complicated – and one wrong wire can lead to a fault, whether a connection problem or a serious fault that affects your whole car. There are wireless options, as well, that are relatively easy to install and set up.
Rear-View Cameras: Don’t Forget Common Sense
Backup cameras are great for eliminating that blind-spot but they have blind areas of their own. Drivers can’t simply rely on technology to help avoid all “back-over” deaths. It is important to reverse slowly, and use a mixture of the camera, mirrors and actually checking behind your car before reversing.
These cameras are currently available for installation into 70% of new cars, pending the implementation of new rules requiring cameras in all vehicles. Some of these installations are optional but many are becoming a standard part of the system. Due to the number of deaths through “back-over” accidents, the federal government is looking into making it compulsory for all new cars to have them installed. Until that happens, consider putting one in yourself (with the help of a professional if necessary) – it could save a life.
Harris, N. DOT Sued Over Rear-View Camera Rule Delay: Feature Could Prevent ‘Backover Accident’ Deaths In Children. (2013). Medical Daily. Accessed September 26, 2013.
Kids And Cars. 4 die every week as DOT delays rule to prevent backover deaths. (2013). Kids and Cars. Accessed September 26, 2013.
Consumer Reports. Auto Backup Systems: Car Backup Cameras. (2013). Accessed September 26, 2013.
Ahlers, M. DOT, Safety Advocates Feud Over Rear-View Camera Recommendation. (2013). Accessed September 26, 2013.
Miller, T. Adding a Backup Camera to Your Vehicle. (2010). Edmunds.com. Accessed September 26, 2013.
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