Rear view cameras on all vehicles coming soon?
The US National Highway Transport Safety Administration (NTSB) is recommending rear view video cameras for all new cars and the US Federal Government has said it will be supporting the recommendation.
Some organizations have called for mandatory fitting of rear view cameras on all new vehicles to save lives. In the US 200 people are killed every year in backing accidents and 17,000 are injured.
The government response is an extremely cautious approach to a problem that has been around for as long as motor vehicles. To many in government this must be the most far-reaching decision they have faced since government recommended that motor vehicles should have brakes.
The visibility problem is accentuated by vehicle size. SUV’s with poor rearward visibility are notorious for backing over children in driveways, but still governments all over the world dither. On trucks and buses mirrors have long been a costly and inefficient appendage. An unknown number die every year due to a lack of visibility for truck and bus drivers.
When I talk with people about mirrors versus cameras they always raise cost as the main objection. I point out that cameras would be cheaper; cheaper to make and install, cheaper in the long run with lower insurance premiums, and cheaper in terms of lives saved.
But then they ask me how drivers would see when a camera failed to work. But that is really a no-brainer objection. How do they manage without a camera when the mirror has been damaged or the glass is fogged over?
On large vehicles mirrors are an ongoing expense. Damage and unserviceability is a frequent reality for drivers and owners. But there is a better way.
All vehicles should have at least two rear facing cameras and ideally three cameras, one for each side and a central one for reversing. For drivers worried about camera failure, they could have retractable rear view mirrors for emergency use.
But the reality is that cameras fail less often than mirrors, they present a wider view and the information can be placed right in front of the driver instead of up to 90 degrees away from the view of the road ahead.
Rear view cameras should be mandatory on all new vehicles.