Mandatory Backup Cameras by 2014?

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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.

2010 Ford Fusion poor rear visibility

Newer vehicle designs, like this 2010 Ford Fusion, tend to emphasize higher rear window placement. As a result, some newer cars have less rear visibility than the older designs they replace.

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


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  1. Mickey says:

    Well the backup camera I installed on my CM has been the greatest thing I done. I don’t need the wife to steer me or I guess where to place the ball for my trailer and boat. One time does it. I would think the camera will help but, you have to actually watch it or at the minimum get out and circle the vehicle to make sure no one is around. I don’t think it will bring it down 30%. People aren’t as attentative to what’s around them. Too much time lost going around the vehicle. I have to make that cell phone call or text. They can make the camera by the license plate like they do for my wife’s Prius. By it being at the plate it gives you a wide area to see. Like you mention this should be optional not mandatory. responsibility for the actions is where accountability should be at, not a camera.

  2. Mickey says:

    BTW Jason both my wife and I backup into our garage. I have a 3 car garage and I use the single unit side while the wife and the boat has the double side.

  3. Mendonsy says:

    This ranks right up there with the TPMS for adding cost to each vehicle. Every forum will soon be full of “how to disable it” threads.

  4. Jason (Admin) says:

    Mickey – I remember you commenting on this once before – I recall you saying that they worked great. I also remember a story about a kid that got hurt or killed in the local news too – I think you commented on that as well.

    I’m torn: on one hand, I say “what the hell is the government’s problem? Stop adding required crap!” On the other, I think that saving just a few kids makes this whole thing worthwhile…

    Mendonsy – Mandatory TPMS is, in a word, stupid. The system really doesn’t work (false warnings are far too common) and I doubt it’s saved anyone. The cameras *might* work, but we really don’t know for sure. Maybe if someone trustworthy could conduct a study and prove that they worked it would be an easier decision.

    As far as I know, the 30% reduction in incidents claimed by NHTSA may very well be a guess.

  5. Mickey says:

    My TPMS only came on once when the new tires was placed on the day before. They set the psi way to low for me. Also for my wife’s car the Prius they did help her greatly when her’s came on. She stop at a station to see a metal wire sticking out of her driver’s rear tire. Glad they worked. Unhappy because the wire was throught the sidewall so replaced the tire. She hasn’t had an issue yet since that time. Needless to say I check the psi every weekend and record them down on the computer. She has 65,000 miles on her original 3 she has left. She will have to replace them before 70,000. I replaced my tires at 63,000. Now have 99,950 miles. Maybe tomorrow will be the camera day of 100k miles.

  6. Mickey says:

    Here you Jason. Also if possible can you send me the other forum you have by email. My hard drive crashed last month and had to replace it.

  7. Jason (Admin) says:

    Mickey – I used to get TMPS warnings every cold morning here in Colorado…very frustrating.

    Your post has been updated:

    I’ll email you about the other pics

  8. mk says:

    sorry, yet another addtl. expense not needed nor wanted for me. Way too many gadgets on these vehicles I do not want like traction control and stability control and crap that interfers with the way I want to drive vs. having a computer piss me off. If I want to spin tires to get going, I have to put the truck in neutral or park and hold the VSC button for like 3-4 seconds, what a pain in the neck when you want to move out into traffic without having the engine/wheels not spin to get you moving. Very annoying here in WI winters. Give me cruise control, A/C, power windows and locks, CD player, pwr. drivers seat, and I am good to go. Bluetooth, VSC, air bags, 6 disc CD changer, VSC, leather seating, traction control, etc., etc. is NOT needed for me. I tell you all vehicle mfgs. are starting to put gizmos on vehicles that take away from the driver’s ability to actually know how to drive a vehicle like they should have learned before all this techy crap was put on.

  9. Loco says:

    Sorry to chime in late here but I am stationed in Japan and everyone parks backed in. So when you have the clearest view of the road as you are entering the park lot and spot you do the most dangerous part, which is backing into our out of a spot. The ability to see what is coming when you pull out of the spot is way better than trying to back out when some old bag is pushing a cart right behind you after you checked…My .02.


  10. Jason (Admin) says:

    Phil – I hear what you’re saying, and I had no idea everyone backs in where you’re stationed in Japan – interesting to know. Thank you. 🙂

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