Mandatory Backup Cameras by 2014?
According to NHTSA, 18,000 people are injured each year and 300 are killed because of “backovers” – situations where people back their vehicles into obstacles, cars, bicyclists, or pedestrians. This is a startling statistic to be sure – it’s hard to imagine how this can happen so often – but if you think about it the number (sadly) makes sense.
How many times in your life have you jumped out of the way of a vehicle in reverse while walking through the parking lot at your local mall? How many of us have backed into an unseen obstacle? How many friends or neighbors have had close calls with pets or children behind their vehicle? If you think about the number of people backing their vehicle up every day, it’s easy to see how the injuries could add up.
The question is, should automakers be required to include a backup camera on every new vehicle in order to try and prevent these accidents from happening?
Arguments For Mandatory Backup Cameras
First of all, backup cameras help out a lot. Anyone who has used one can tell you that you have a much better understanding of what’s behind you when there’s a camera lens back there for support.
Second, car designers have made it increasingly hard to see what’s behind you. Newer vehicle designs have higher rear window ledges and as a result rear blind spots can be pretty big. The latest version of the Ford Fusion (2010 model), for example, is rated as having the worst rear blind zone of all large sedans.
Third, large vehicles and pickups tend to be the worst in terms of rear visibility. Shorter drivers have an especially hard time seeing behind pickups according to Consumer Reports data. [Related: Check out backup cameras for pickup trucks]
Finally, and most sadly, children are dis-proportionally likely to be injured or killed in a backover than adults. Adding cameras as a safety feature will help youngsters the most.
Arguments Against Mandatory Backup Cameras
They’re another expense that new vehicle buyers must “absorb.” Estimates range from as little as an extra $100 to an extra $300 would be added to the price of a new car with this requirement. While this is a small number as a percentage of a vehicle’s total price, additional costs are additional costs.
They aren’t 100% effective. NHTSA’s estimates show that approximately 100 deaths and 7,000 injuries can be prevented with mandatory cameras…but that’s still only reducing deaths by 30%.
Where do safety regulations end? There’s nothing wrong with putting safety first…but how do we draw a line between government required safety regulations and personal responsibility? If – for example – everyone followed this procedure to adjust their side mirrors the chances of changing lanes into a blind spot would be minimized.
If people took more care when backing up, we could probably reduce backover injuries and deaths quite a bit…without every mandating any new safety equipment.
They may encourage people to be careless. If vehicle owners felt like the camera was foolproof, they might not pay as much attention while backing up as they should.
What do you think? Should backup cameras be mandatory for all new vehicles?
Filed Under: Auto News