My Car Does What? An Extra Set of Eyes

How many times have you wished you had an extra set of eyes while you were pulling out of a parking spot in the Atlanta area, or backing down a driveway onto a busy street? Providing drivers a better view of the objects around their vehicles is one of the issues that automakers have been focused on addressing.

The automotive industry has made a number of innovations in recent years to improve vehicle and occupant safety. Parking sensors, adaptive headlights, lane departure warning systems, and brake assist technology are among the advanced safety features that now come standard in many newer model vehicles.

Another feature you may have noticed, if you have recently purchased a vehicle or are in the market for a new vehicle, is that your car may come standard with a backup camera to help you avoid accidents while moving in reverse. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that backup cameras have been shown to be more effective than parking sensors for avoiding collisions while a car is moving backward.

Back-Over Accident Statistics

According to statistics from child safety advocacy group,, thousands of children sustain serious and fatal injuries each year as a result of being run over by a driver who did not see them while backing up. The problem with older model vehicles is most have a blind zone up to 50 feet behind the vehicle, and 10 feet to either side. That greatly reduces a driver’s ability to see people and objects in time to avoid an accident.

This has led to more than 50 children being backed over by vehicles every single week. Of these young back-over victims struck every week:

  • 48 require emergency treatment in hospitals
  • Two suffer fatal injuries
  • The majority are between the ages of one year and 23 months
  • 70 percent are injured or killed in accidents in which a parent or close relative is behind the wheel
  • 60 percent are backed over by large trucks, vans or SUVs

The IIHS estimates the total number of back-over accident victims each year to be around 18,000 people who are injured, and approximately 292 people who are killed. Young children and elderly adults are most at risk.

How Backup Cameras Work to Help Prevent Accidents

A backup camera is mounted to the rear of a vehicle to allow drivers to see an image of objects in the vehicle’s blind spots. This image appears on a display screen in the center console, in the rear view mirror, or on the driver’s sun visor.

Backup cameras are activated as soon as the driver puts the vehicle in reverse. While most new vehicles come equipped with a backup camera, some also have sensors that sound an alarm inside the vehicle when an object is too close.

Having a backup camera does not mean drivers no longer need to glance over their shoulder or use their rearview mirrors or side-view mirrors. The backup camera simply provides an additional wider range of view. Drivers should be sure to check behind their vehicle before backing down a driveway or out of a parking spot. Objects low to the ground may not be detected by backup cameras.

The use of a backup camera can significantly reduce the number of serious injuries and deaths, particularly young children, as it gives drivers a better look at what is behind them. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that backup cameras reduce the chances of a back-over collision by at least 46 percent.

Things You Need to Know About Backup Cameras

Whether your vehicle comes equipped with a backup camera, or you are in search of a vehicle that offers this safety feature, has put together a list of some factors you should consider:

  • Not all backup cameras are the same. While all backup systems are required to meet federal standards, how a camera operates will vary from vehicle to vehicle.
  • Backup cameras can help drivers avoid serious or fatal accidents. According to research about the effectiveness of backup cameras, the cameras have proven to be beneficial, although using the backup camera should not be the only precaution drivers take. Drivers should only use backup camera to get a wider range of view.
  • Backup cameras can add a significant cost to a new vehicle. While the cameras used to be found only in high-end vehicles, many manufacturers are adding cameras to less expensive models as standard equipment. Federal regulations will make backup cameras mandatory in all vehicles in 2018.
  • You don’t have to buy a new vehicle to get a backup camera. Backup cameras can be purchased relatively inexpensively and installed quite easily. Retailers such as Amazon and Best Buy offer discounted prices for after-market systems.
  • Certain factors can affect how well a backup camera functions. Rain, snow and other weather, along with dirt, grime, and even the time of day can all obscure the camera’s view. Simply wiping the lens down every so often to remove obstructions keeps the camera functioning as it should.
  • While backup cameras can help prevent accidents, you should not expect to see any major reduction in your insurance rates by having your vehicle equipped with this safety feature.
  • Backup cameras can be used as a parking aide or a guide to help hitch up a trailer. Some auto manufacturers have begun to install all-around view monitoring systems to give drivers additional lines of sight from almost any angle. Others are considering replacing side-view mirrors with cameras so as to improve aerodynamics, fuel efficiency, as well as line of sight.

While this and other auto safety features can do a lot to help minimize the risk of accidents and injuries, it is important for drivers to remain attentive and vigilant while behind the wheel.