More than ever before, automotive technology is being used to prevent car accidents.
Safety features such as electronic stability control, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, automatic crash notification, and the automatic emergency braking are now becoming standard operating equipment on motor vehicles being manufactured in the U.S. and abroad.
However, should backup cameras be included in this group of safety features? Do these devices really prevent drivers from backing into objects, including people and other drivers?
Rear Visibility Devices Set to Become Standard Feature
You can count the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) among those who believe that “rear visibility devices” can play an important role in stopping car accidents, injuries, and deaths from occurring.
The NHTSA will require all cars, trucks, and buses manufactured on or after May 1, 2018, that weigh under 10,000 pounds to include rear visibility devices as part of the vehicle’s standard operating system.
These backup cameras should enable drivers to see a 10-by-20-foot zone directly behind the vehicle. Drivers can view the zone from a screen placed in the interior driver console.
The NHTSA estimates that these devices will prevent between 58 and 69 deaths each year.
According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, backup cameras can lower the risk of a “backover collision” by 46 percent. Examples of backover collisions are hitting another car, bicyclist, or pedestrian when backing out of a driveway or pulling out of a parking spot.
The Foundation states that these devices may be particularly useful for older drivers who may be less able to turn around to check their blind spots and make sure no one is behind them when pulling out of parking spaces and driveways.
Report Questions Whether Back-Up Cameras Are Effective
However, as The Washington Post recently noted, some question whether these devices really make us safer. In fact, the newspaper suggests that some drivers may rely too much on this technology. This reliance could possibly increase the risk of a “backover collision” rather than reduce it.
The Post points to an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study which found that backup cameras cut a driver’s blind zone while going in reverse by 90 percent.
By that same token, instead of following safe driving practices such as looking through the rearview mirror, turning around, and scanning the area behind the vehicle, a driver may instead simply keep his or her eyes “glued to a screen.” As a result, the driver may miss other vehicles, objects, or people in the car’s path.
The newspaper also cites NHTSA statistics that cast doubt on the safety benefits of backup cameras – despite the fact that they have become increasingly popular among manufacturers and consumers. According to the Post:
- The installation of backup cameras in motor vehicles in the U.S. more than doubled – going from 32 percent to 68 percent – between 2008 and 2011.
- However, during that same four-year period, car accident injuries fell by only roughly eight percent.
- While the auto accident fatality rate dropped by a larger percentage during that time period – 31 percent – the number of deaths caused by backover collisions has always been fairly low.
Don’t Rely on Your Back-Up Camera
You should be aware that your backup camera is intended to work when your car is slowly going in reverse. It may not work when traveling at speeds faster than six miles per hour.
Even if your car features a backup camera, you should continue to always look over your shoulder and use your rearview mirrors. You need to follow safe practices and avoid becoming overly reliant on your backup camera.
Additionally, it is important to always look for obstacles on all sides of your vehicle in order to prevent accidents and injuries.
Many backup camera models contain features that work within your car’s system to slow your car down if an obstacle is detected. At the same time, it is still your responsibility to take all of the necessary actions to avoid a crash.
Have You Been Injured in a Backover Accident? Get Legal Help Today
If you or someone you care about has suffered injuries due to a crash caused by a negligent driver – such as one who failed to back out of a driveway or parking spot safely – you should get help from an experienced car accident lawyer.
Even a car accident that occurs at a low speed can result in extensive damage to your vehicle and cause serious – even fatal – injuries. This is especially true if the victim is a bicyclist or pedestrian.
The attorneys of Strickland Agner Pittman are dedicated to helping auto accident victims and their families in Goldsboro and throughout North Carolina to seek just compensation for the harm they have suffered due to the careless or reckless conduct of another.
Contact us today to discuss your case in a free consultation. We can review the facts of your case and explain your options for seeking compensation for your medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and other damages.