According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), about 300 fatalities and 18,000 injuries occur in the US every year that involve a vehicle backing up. Among the death count, 78% involve cars and light trucks, and of those, 44% involve children under five while 33% involve people 70 and up.
Among a population of 313 million, 300 accidental deaths a year seem pretty insignificant, especially when you realize that 443,000 US citizens die every year from smoking. But that’s enough for the NHTSA to look into requiring the addition of backup cameras in all cars and light trucks
, possibly as soon as the 2015 model year.
I say no.
I’m not against backup cameras, as they’re a nice-to-have feature, especially on parking lot-challenged vehicles such as the 2012 Ram 2500 Laramie Longhorn I recently drove. On the pickup, the camera helps you back up the behemoth without nudging an object behind with the rear bumper; it helps you line up straight with the trailer you’re about to hook on.
Some backup camera systems are integrated into the rearview mirror, which is a less-expensive alternative to a centre stack-mounted LCD screen. But it’s another device that will inevitably jack up the price of cars and trucks. Then again, installing them in every vehicle might not be as costly as one would think. Probably around $50 per unit for the cheaper ones.
Will mandatory rearview cameras save lives and prevent injuries? I have to say yes, but they aren’t perfect, and they won’t save everybody from imprudent drivers who shift their car in reverse and senselessly floor it.
|Photo: Sébastien D'Amour
The camera can’t provide a peripheral view behind your vehicle, which means objects in motion such as a kid on a bicycle won’t come into view until the very last second, if at all. Infiniti’s new JX crossover
includes a backup collision intervention system that, in addition to giving out audible and visible alerts to the driver, will ultimately hit the brakes for you.
Technology replaces human judgement. That scares the hell out of me.
Backup cameras and collision intervention systems will ultimately rid many human brains of their safety awareness. Who cares if a kid’s running down the sidewalk as we back out of our driveway; the truck will stop itself, won’t it?
The best peripheral camera system we got consists of our brain, neck, eyes, ears and judgement. We really should continue using it.