By on February 27, 2011

Thanks to a flood of about 200 comments, NHTSA has delayed final rulemaking for its requirement that all vehicles sold in the US must have back-up cameras. Automotive News [sub] reports the vehicle safety agency released a statement saying

The public comment period on this safety proposal only recently closed, and NHTSA will be asking Congress for additional time to analyze public comments, complete the rulemaking process and issue a final rule

But don’t expect NHTSA to drop the proposed rule. An analyst watching the regulatory process tells AN that

he expects the rule to be tweaked to include testing for illumination at night and the time it takes the picture to appear on the display. Overall, though, he said there shouldn’t be any major changes that would cause the ruling to be enacted later than September.

The agency says the cheapest option is to connect the camera to a vehicle’s existing video screen at a cost of $58 to $88. Equipping a vehicle that doesn’t already have a screen would cost $159 to $203

At an industry-wide cost of $1.9b-$2.7b, that comes to some $20m per life saved (assuming cameras will actually prevent back-up “accidents”). Want to guess what most of those 200 comments have to say about the proposal? Seriously, though, we can only find one

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65 Comments on “NHTSA Postpones Back-Up Camera Requirement Rule...”


  • avatar
    HerrKaLeun

    Aren’t I legally required to turn my head around when backing up? I mean the camera sees what is directly behind my car. But if an obstacle (moving car, kid) is coming from the side the camera likely doesn’t see it.
    so how do I look at the screen (on the dash presumably) and backwards?
    I’m not too worried about cost in 5 years assuming all cars will have some type of screen then (the speedometer and that could be a screen for example and the screen switches to rear camera when in reverse).
    What about dirt on the camera and how soon does it get damaged? I’m sure replacing a camera is more than $ 58.

    • 0 avatar
      BuzzDog

      What about dirt on the camera and how soon does it get damaged? I’m sure replacing a camera is more than $ 58.
       
      Dirt is a factor, but a quick rub with an eyeglass wipe fixes it.
       
      OEM ones are usually mounted in the lip above the license plate and are fairly well protected; our two camera-equipped vehicles have a total of 120,000 miles between them, with only one failure when the harness became unplugged in the one in the SUV.
       
      Cameras are really inexpensive – at least aftermarket ones are. If manufacturers can agree upon a common standard (much as is the case with webcams), economies of scale could make replacement not much more expensive than replacing a bulb.

    • 0 avatar
      Dieseldude

      @ buzzdog
      “IF manufacturers can agree upon a common standard (much as is the case with webcams), economies of scale could make replacement not much more expensive than replacing a bulb.”
       
      IF my dear departed aunt had possed cajones we would have called her Uncle Sadie.

    • 0 avatar
      BuzzDog

      @dieseldude, you have no idea how much I agree with you.
       
      However, if this is the ultimate answer to poor rear visibility – which I’m not sure it is – I’d like to see a standard interface written into the regulation. That would facilitate maintenance and replacement, and while less common today, it’s not unheard of for safety-related equipment.

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      @Dieseldude – a common standard might not be that far fetched.   Take EV chargers for example.  There is a standard plug which means a Volt, a Leaf, and a plug-in hybrid can be charged by the same charger.

    • 0 avatar
      Dieseldude

      The hole where you stick the fuel nozzle is pretty well standardized too, but Uncle Ruth says that is a far cry from a standardized consumable part. Ya dig?

  • avatar

    Looking forward and down at a display panel is different than looking forward and up at a rear view mirror. When looking at the rear view mirror you have peripheral vision to the car’s sides.
    Properly used I don’t have a problem with cameras, but as they are currently implemented and as I expect average drivers will use them, I suspect that mandating their installation in cars will lead to more accidents, not fewer ones. I’d be more comfortable if the camera display screen was mounted up high near the rear view mirror, than using existing IP mounted display screens.

    • 0 avatar
      HerrKaLeun

      correct, placement of the screen by the rear view mirror would help. but it likely won’t happen because of cost and aesthetics (unless legally mandated).
       
      Also old people will have problems seeing a small screen.
       
      The rear view mirror still doesn’t give you a wide angle to see a car or kid running into your way.

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      Franco: And now my friend, the first-a rule of Italian driving.
      [Franco rips off his rear-view mirror and throws it out of the car]
      Franco: What’s-a behind me is not important.

      -Raul Julia as Franco Bertollini in “The Gumball Rally”

  • avatar
    obbop

    Camera lobby needs to spend more money within Congress.
     
    It’s the American Way!

  • avatar
    potatobreath

    I’d like cars that are easier to see out the back. The Taurus really needs the camera.
    I wonder if manufacturers notice that cars with lower beltlines are more comfortable to drive for the first time.

  • avatar
    BuzzDog

    I’m not a big fan of this proposal, even though I have a backup camera, use it and like it.
     
    Problem number one: I’m not convinced that the touchscreens that come along with cameras are going to last beyond five years. It might work better if there was a standardized, cost-effective screen that fit all cars, but that creates another bureaucratic boondoggle.
     
    Problem number two: Backup cameras are a lazy way for designers to mitigate poor rear visibility; and let’s face it, the ability of the driver to see outside of a vehicle is far, far worse than ever. Also, there are times when rear visibility is desirable when the vehicle is not in reverse, which is the only time that I’ve ever seen a rear camera activate itself.
     
    Good intentions, but it’s a rather complex solution to a simple problem.

    • 0 avatar
      M 1

      Considering widespread, modern-style factory satellite nav is about 10 years old now, problem number one is no problem at all. A good friend of mine is still running around with his ’01 Acura and the touch-screen still works just fine. My own Suburban is about six months shy of 5 years old, no problems.

    • 0 avatar
      texan01

      Problem 2 is much bigger concern than touchscreens failing. Touch screens have been around in cars for about 20 years now (Buick Reatta, Olds Trofeo) And a failing touch screen is an easy problem to solve.
       
      The poor visibility isn’t as easy to address but frankly would go a long way to making cars safer. My elderly Explorer has much much better visiblity than in say mom’s Buick Rendezvous which is darn near impossible to see anything within 30 feet directly behind it .

    • 0 avatar
      fincar1

      This proposal is simply another indication that we have too much government.

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    Calculating this idea’s worthinedd based solely on lives saved is missing the point (though one wonders why the NHTSA hasn’t brought this up).

    Backup cameras aren’t just going to save lives – they’re going to reduce the chances of hitting stuff on general. Even if we assume that the 2k+ prices manufacturers charge is anywhere near the real cost – which it’s not, since it’s always part of some uber luxo wonder package that also includes a heated parcel shelf, it’ll only take one averted parking lot whack to pay for itself.

    And that’s not counting the time and effort saved on the drivers’ parts. I’ve got comp and a $100 deductible, but it’d still be a royal PITA to deal with it if I backed my car into a pile of cinder blocks – or if someone backed their pile of cinder blocks into me.

    So there’s going to be a not-insignificant effect on overall damage amounts. Buy a used car and pay $100 for the camera after depreciation, and it’s not going to take much to make it worthwhile – babies saved or not.

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      Addendi:

      1) Bad writing is due to my writing on my blackberry.

      2) I’m not making a judgement on whether the NHTSA should be involved in policy intended to save consumers money. Body shop owners in particular might take issue with that. My point is just that with this (and with many other like things) there’s a tendency to focus obsessively on edge cases (death!!!!) And say, there aren’t many – while ignoring possibly large amounts of somewhat smaller issues. Suppose this saves 10 lives a year, but eliminates 20,000 broken legs and 5,000 concussions? I don’t know if that’s the case, but you can’t use deaths as the only metric for the worthiness of a safety standard any more than you can use the lack of directly attributable deaths as a reason to not bother with good tires. It’s not the only reason you have the policy.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      I’m not making a judgement on whether the NHTSA should be involved in policy intended to save consumers money.
       
      I don’t think the NHTSA should be focusing on “saving” money for consumers, at least not as a primary focus.  They should be concentrating on reducing injury and death.  If you can save some money in the process, ok, but that should not be the focus.  I really think that if designers concentrated on better visibility these cameras would not be necessary.  I think that mandating these is not the best way to go.

    • 0 avatar

      If what you say were true, then everyone would have already done the math, and all cars would have backup cameras.  Plus, the insurance companies all have actuaries who work furiously at figuring this stuff out.  How much of a discount do you get on your insurance for having a backup camera?

  • avatar
    76triumph

    The problem isn’t kids running into a vehicle that is rolling backwards.  It is kids standing behind a stationary vehicle that then begins to roll.  The camera isn’t supposed to be a substitute for looking behind you…you aren’t supposed to drive by looking at the screen.  It is there to illuminate your rear blindspot before starting.  Put the car in reverse, check the screen, start to roll, go to mirror / turn your head.  But there isn’t how a lot of people use it, and that is a problem.
     
    I’d support a compromise, where the camera requirement is based on the size of the rear blindspot.  Put an obstacle Y inches tall X inches from the bumper.  If you can see it in the mirror or by turning around, no need for a camera.  If it can’t be seen, then you need a camera.

  • avatar
    Bluliner

    So, a backup camera will save your life huh?
    My guess is that whoever has backed over someone didn’t intend to. I could be wrong, but lets pretend I’m not. Now, if you’re backing up and have ZERO reason to believe that anything is behind you; would you even look at your backup monitor or would you just worry about backing out straight? My guess, it would be the latter.
    If you’re backing out of a 2-car garage; are you more concerned with the possibility of hitting something and damaging your paint -or- are you concerned with the 1,000,000:1 possibility that a child is staring at your reverse lights? My guess, you’re trying not to hit the bikes, garbage cans, lawn mowers, gardening stuff, tool boxes, and whatever you have in your garage. In this situation, you pay more attention to the sides of your car than what is directly behind it.
    But that’s neither here nor there; regulators regulate…it’s their MO.

    • 0 avatar
      76triumph

      That is a tough argument to make to a parent that has killed their child.  Of course they didn’t intend it…I don’t think you need to guess about that.
       
      Places that have concentrations of low rear visibility vehicles often have a > zero chance of a kid being behind it.  In a mall lot?  At a church?  At a school?  In a suburban driveway?  At a supermarket parking lot?  Guess what, the chance is > zero, and kids get killed.
       
      As I said above, you don’t drive by the camera.  A simple check prior to rolling would likely avoid almost all of these tragedies.
       

  • avatar

    It is the plan to make cars more expensive.

    I find it quite difficult to switch between the camera and the outside view. I think most are going to back up solely by reference to the camera and get hit from the side. Speeding bicyclists are going to cry foul and a new regulatory solution will be found for the problem created by the camera regulation.

  • avatar
    Wheatridger

    Great– just when I’m struggling to find a new car that doesn’t have a video screen in the dash. I consider these to be huge distractions from the task at hand. Like the shiny dashboard plastichrome that’s invaded our dashboards, it’s all bling, that don’t mean a thing. My friend’s new Jetta Sportwagon uses a screen to display and access radio settings. He doesn’t know how to shut it off, so he has a bright, square mini-billboard competing for his attention and diminishing his night vision on dark drives.

    Driveway backup fatalities are especially tragic, since they usually involve a parent killing their own kids with that supersized vehicle they chose “because it’s safer.” Rear cameras are a good idea on a big SUV or van, but on my every car? In my New Beetle, I can practically see my own rear license plate.

    I believe in using all the appropriate safety devices for my road and my load, but no more. The first thing I do when getting a new (usually used) car is to cover the airbag warning label on the sun visor with color-matched duct tape. No small kids ride in my front seat anymore, and I know that warning by heart. I’m sure I’m not made safer by having an eye-catching yellow-and-black label in front of me, competing for my eyeballs’ attention.

    The first principle of safe driving is to look outside the car, in whichever way you’re going, with full visual attention! New cars are making that more difficult, as they impede driver visibility with long, swooping A-pillars and small windows  and add bright distractions to the interiors. And along the highways, we’re adding video billboards that flash with the intensity of arc lights in our eyes. And that just about sums up my biggest gripes about modern motoring…

    • 0 avatar
      ptr2void

      “My friend’s new Jetta Sportwagon uses a screen to display and access radio settings. He doesn’t know how to shut it off, so he has a bright, square mini-billboard competing for his attention and diminishing his night vision on dark drives.”

      Sounds like a question easily answered with a little bit of work. For example, a quick Google search on “Jetta Sportwagon dim screen” turned up this: http://forums.tdiclub.com/showthread.php?t=290482

  • avatar
    Joss

    Number 1 rule of parking – always avoid backing when possible. If you must back, back on arrival when the site is fresh in your mind try to avoid backing on departure. When you must back keep it to the minimum and back s l o w l y. The secret to success is more in the driving technique than the device…

    I’ve driven a rental with a back-up camera, yes road salt is a problem this time of the year. You must keep it clean. Also I found a delay with screen activation when placing shifter in reverse.

    • 0 avatar

      This is a very wrong advice, because departing nose first increases risk substantionally (don’t want to speculate on reasons). In some locales parking trunk into stall will yield you a violation ticket. My wife collected one of those.

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Jaeger

      Departing nose first increases risk?  Are you serious?
       
      I don’t know where you got that, but I work for a Telco.  Part of the driver training required for all who drive our company vehicles mandates that you park so that you can depart forwards.  Yes, that means backing into the stall if necessary.  First choice is to drive forwards into a parking spot that also allows you to drive forwards when leaving.
       
      I have no idea how those rules could possibly increase the risk, but I’m interested in hearing your reasoning.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      I’ve also never heard that it was more dangerous to pull out nose-first.  The only reasoning I could think of would be that when you pull out forwards you can’t see the brakelights, but at night you will see the headlights, and during the day the brakelights aren’t very visible from the side anyway.
       
      Backup cameras are absolutely wonderful for helping with parking.  Backup sensors work almost as well for this, but it’s a lot easier to really angle the car into the spot you want when you can aim the wheel tracks right where you want them.  The cameras also make the job of lining up a trailer hitch super-easy.

    • 0 avatar
      oldworntruck

      Actually as a mobile heavy equipment mechanic for the last 15 years I learned early on to back into parking spaces because when you arrive on site you can see everyone around you.
      When leaving a jobsite,even if you walk around your service truck prior to departing I have found that children or pedestrians will get behind the vehicle and into a blindspot in just the time it takes to start the vehicle and back out of the spot.

  • avatar

    Perhaps I am getting overly cynical, but I really feel like this is the “third taillight” scheme all over again.
     
    The more things change….

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    They should be promoting outcomes, not mandating a technology.  I can’t believe they’re wasting money and time (and going to be wasting a ton of our money) when they let manufacturers sell cars with sh1t for brakes.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      +1.  Seems to me that the best bang for the buck would be having a standard that requires serious brakes.  No car in test conditions should take more that 125 feet to come to a stop from 60.  And standards for fade resistance should also be strengthened.
       
       

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      @golden2husky

      If you want to shorten stopping distances, changing brakes ain’t gonna do it. Even my ancient Escort could lock the wheels without trouble. There’s some difference with suspension and electronics (eg, abs vs. 4-wheel distributed brake control) but honestly? Tires. Tires, tires, tires, tires, tires.

      Nothing is going to stop like hell with the skinny-*ss 14″, “60000-mile tread life” donuts you get on your stripper Corolla. I’ll bet that there’s a 15 foot difference between the 6.5×16 Pirelli P6s that came stock on my Saab 9-5, and the 7.5×17 Dunlop SP-Sports I put on this summer.

      You want safety? Mandate wide, sticky, relatively low-profile tires for warm weather, and dedicated snows for cold. The rest of your car can only do so much if you can’t turn it and can’t stop it.

    • 0 avatar
      aspade

      If fade is ever an issue on a public road you’re doing something at least stupid and probably illegal besides.
       
      Like Peri said, mandating single stop distances is effectively mandating tires.
       
      On one level that makes a lot of sense – a new car with $5,000 and 500 lbs of post-collision mitigation delivered on skinny rock hard tires to save $25 a corner and 1 mpg is ridiculous.  But if you’re going to say that’s not OK it’s no stretch at all from there to say all terrains aren’t OK either.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    My first thought was “Here we go again”, but I’m not so sure this is a bad idea.  It’s pretty cheap, considering how much cars cost these days, and I’ve twice backed into vehicles that were too low to be seen looking out the back window.  Of course, if you’re looking out back the camera’s not much help, but a quick glance at the monitor right before moving might do it.

  • avatar
    carguy

    I have yet to see evidence that camera equipped vehicles are any safer as I would suspect that most drivers pay no attention to the rear view camera. If we are to pay for such mandated technology then it should be a pedestrian detection system that actually stops the vehicle without human intervention. Its unfortunate, but safety devices that require no human intervention send to be the most effective.

  • avatar
    Crosley

    At the end of the day, accidents are caused by drivers screwing up, not a lack of equipment on a car.  You can put a conscientious driver in a 50 year old classic with ZERO safety equipment and they’ll be less likely to get in a wreck than a 16 year old dingbat in the most advanced car on Earth.
     
    I have a car with a backup camera, and it’s absolutely worthless.  You’re much more likely to get in an accident using them than a rear view mirror.  I don’t even want to know what a Lexus dealer will charge to fix it if it ever breaks.
     
    Let the market find solutions for this, if someone wants this equipment, let them voluntarily buy it.

    • 0 avatar
      M 1

      It is utterly stupid to mandate them, that much, I agree.
       
      But I happen to think backup cameras are great — as optional, voluntarily selected equipment.
       
      I thought they were stupid gimmicks until I actually had one. The lens is wide-angle and shows far more than ANY combination of rear-windows and mirrors ever could, period. I back my truck straight up to my trailer hitches perfectly the first time, every time. In tight spots, I can inch backwards as far as possible without plowing into the row of bushes planted too close to the parking space, or to the bumper of the idiot to had to park 6 inches over his line in the opposite space.
       
      There is nothing complex about it. The costs are the same stupid premiums that manufacturers apply to everything else — the reason a junky OEM stereo costs $3,000.

  • avatar
    ExPatBrit

    If you try to make cars idiot proof, we will just get improved idiots.
    I think we get too dependent on these gizmos. And when the gizmo fails which car company will be sued?
    Slightly off topic but Nova (PBS) had a recent program on Flight 447 that ended up lost in the Atlantic.
    Conclusion seem to be  that the pilots didn’t know how to fly the airplane when the air speed indicators and computer checked out and the Airbus flew into the ocean.
     
     
     

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      By your ‘better idiot’ argument, we should all be driving cars with no structural integrity, no seat belts, bias ply tires, and impale-o-matic steering columns.

      You could make the same argument about anything from hydraulic brakes to stability control. But the most conscientious driver in the world, on average, still won’t have the car control ability to fix a slide that started on black ice and continues onto packed snow.

      Is there a line where things stop being useful? Sure. But the ‘better idiot’ rationale is absurd. Do we not use smoke detectors because people will just be more careless with matches? Not have railings along cliffs because someone could jump them anyway?

      What people really mean when they say, “this stuff has gone too far!” is: “the level of safety gear available when I was 20 is just enough. Anything less is foolhardy and anything more is useless – with the proof being that I wasn”t killed.”

      People said –exactly– the same thing about almost every safety innovation since the dawn of cars. If you want to convince me that backup cameras are worthless, you’re going to have to do better than regurgitating the same old “Back in MY day…” canard.

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    I suppose the NEW cost of these systems is such that the mandate won’t increase a new car’s cost by more than $300.
    That said, when a car is 5 years old and out of warranty, what’s the cost of diagnosing and fixing a buggy back up camera? If it’s only a camera issue, the fix is probably cheap. But experience has taught me to be very cynical about the cost of replacing legacy electronic systems.
    Don’t underestimate the possible headaches and stealership gouging for a buggy back up cam. Especially if the states get on in on the gravy train and mandate a working camera in order to pass inspection.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    The Law of Diminishing Returns rears its ugly head again.

  • avatar
    rickhamilton620

    To be fair guys, you have to check the “Public Submission” box to see the comments.
    As far as the camera thing goes…why does it have to be a camera? Why not something cheaper like backup sensors or something?
    It just seems a bit expensive to shove cameras in the cheapest of cars. I’d feel pretty slighted for getting a freakin camera in a base crank windows Versa or Accent or something….

    • 0 avatar
      M 1

      Backup sensors suck. I’ve had them on several vehicles (as side-effects of the trim level) and their information is almost completely useless. Most of them start going nuts when you’re still ten feet away from an obstacle. They seem to suffer from random reflection issues, it isn’t uncommon for them to freak out about something off to one side or another — far enough that any competent driver would easily avoid the obstacle. Some of my vehicles have had warning lights that supposedly advise me of distance to the obstacle, and those are completely random as well.
       
      Plus, I suspect an ultrasonic ranging device — or rather, an array of several of them, since that is what is required and they actually install — is far more expensive than a $10 made-in-China bullet camera and some wires running to the dash. The cost isn’t in the hardware, it’s in the UAW and the marketing and the endless crash testing and guvmint certification and lawshark salaries on and on and on.

  • avatar
    Truckducken

    +1 to anyone who was critical of this ludicrous nanny reg. No reason whatsoever to require this in all new cars. Any parent of a toddler can go see Manny, Moe and Jack and walk out with a cam system and change for a hundred. Meanwhile, nobody is even going to look at the camera display unless they already suspect a kid might be lurking, so what’s the use? Much as I’d like to back over my teenagers sometimes, the vast majority of drivers are going to have (at best) zero value for this. Now if someone invents a simple pedestrian/baby detector that covers the entire periphery of the car, connects to a buzzer, and costs in the double digits, that’s at least be worth discussing.

  • avatar
    wpaulson

    Wow. I am surprised at all the negative comments concerning back-up cameras. Consumer Reports has measured the rear blind spots in today’s elevated vehicles and they are surprisingly large, especially in SUV’s and pick-up trucks. Too many parents and grandparents have run over their small children and grandchildren when they unexpectedly moved behind their vehicles.

    I am currently driving an Infiniti G37 sedan, and I find my camera is a huge convenience. It gives a wide angle view so that I can see up and down the street as I begin to back out of parallel parking spaces on busy streets. No more blindly pulling out while hoping the maneuver is safe. Now I can confirm it is safe.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    If back-up systems want to make themselves useful, they’d also shoot the left & right landscape. How many times have you had clear a view of what’s behind you but needed a spotter to back out of a parking space? From a blind driveway to a busy street?

  • avatar
    rustyra24

    I believe that back up cameras are a great tool but for the most part make drivers worse. It seems like we just have more gadgets to distract us while we are driving. Instead of looking around and noticing the things around us, we hope that the back camera will pick it up. We use the camera instead of using our own eyes.

  • avatar
    akitadog

    Ed,
    If you check the box labeled “Public Submission” in the link you provided, you’d find all the things that those who bothered to write (like me), had to say.

  • avatar
    ExPatBrit

    I don’t disagree Perisoft, however sooner or later someone is gonna kill someone and say the camera if faulty.
    Every time you add an accessory or  make a car easier to drive, you risk making the drivers less attentive.
    To make cars safe, we need better cars and better drivers. We seem to want to not take the trouble with the second part. US driving borders on the atrocious compared to some other countries.
    When the hardware fails (AWD, ABS, ESP , DBW, backup camera  ) etc does the driver have the basic skills to deal with it.

    I would bet a significant no of our drivers can’t parallel park. So if the camera fails will they abandon the vehicle in the middle of the street or hit your car and blame it on the camera.

     
     
     
     
     
     

  • avatar
    MrBostn

    In cases where someone backs up over a person-is there data to determine a cam would have prevented X amount of these accidents? A bit rhetorical, but we may as well wrap ourselves in bubble wrap.

    I can only imagine the cost of getting the cam fixed at the dealer. It may be a $58 part but servicing it, another story.

    Mother’s gonna keep you right here under her wing.

  • avatar
    vbofw

    The dealer cost of $158-$203 is pretty irrelevant  since I don’t know any OEMs who offer cameras as a standalone option.  If anybody does it’s the vast minority.  It’s always included in a $2-$3,000 upgraded trim level or add-on option, packaged with nav.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      Yeah, but if cams are required by law they’ll be standard equipment, not part of some hyper-marked up bling package.  Not saying they should be mandated, but they’re not going to jack up car prices by $3000 across the board.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    I’ve driven a couple of SUV’s with back up cams, and a van or two with the backup sensors, each has their advantages and drawbacks. The latest SUV I drove was a GMC Acadia and it definitely needed some additional way of seeing behind the truck. Even though I turned around and used the mirrors as an extra measure of seeing what was going on behind me, the little display in the rear view mirror was an advantage. My father in laws Freestar with the back up sensors have limited utility, but I suppose it’s better than nothing. With long bodied vehicles like vans and SUVs, it’s pretty hard to see what’s happening back there without some additional electronic help. Even with cars, I would like to have some ‘thing’ additional beyond craning my neck and checking the mirrors. The way cars are designed these days, the high tail is great for luggage, lousy for visibility.
     
    Now, should it be mandated? Yes. We have all kinds of other safety related devices mandated on our cars and this seems a lot less expensive to implement than some of the other ones. Going forward, the population in the US will be getting older and will need all of the assistive technology help they can get.

  • avatar
    carve

    I HATE it when they mandate a particular technology.  If they’re concerned with people backing into things, there should be visibility requirements only.  For example, “90th percentile driver must be able to detect a two foot tall object 15′ behind the car.  Whether this is done with bigger windows, lower trunk, backup camera, backup sensors, mirrors, or whatever should be up to the manufacturer.

    Visibility really has gotten awful.  My Cherokee is an absolute wonder of visibility.  All four corners are super easy to place- no problem to park within a couple inches of something on any side of the car.  My 3-series is awful.  When I back into a parking spot, I have to open the door and stick my head out to place the car accruately.  Pulling forward into a spot, I once got curb-rash on my bumper since you can’t accurately place it.  And the 3-series is one of the BETTER cars these days!

    • 0 avatar
      76triumph

      Bingo.
       
      Mandate visibility of a Y tall object at X distance from the rear bumper.  Keep the scope of the rule narrow, abstract the problem, don’t specify a solution.  If a kid gets run over the problem was not a lack of a camera, it was lack of visibility / knowledge that the kid was there.

    • 0 avatar
      Philosophil

      In this particular case I think this is a very good suggestion. I see no good reason why a Volvo C30 needs to have a back-up camera.

  • avatar
    chuckR

    Another example of the DOT’s multiple personality disorder. Ray LaHood bleats about distracted driving and his minions suggest a system that most likely will be integrated with a touchscreen for nav and entertainment – surely an important nexus for distracted driving actions. Left hand, meet right hand.
    Here’s an idea  – provide an alternative via standards for outward visibility. Take your pick, cameras or inherently good visibility. I find that these things called windows are quite useful for seeing out of, whether installed in a house or a vehicle. Maybe we could get a return to decent greenhouses from the gunslits we see now. And how about drilling into people’s heads the current recommendations for setting outside mirrors. If you can see your fender you are doing it wrong. It works and you can get a panoramic view backwards from the outside and rearview mirrors – provided you have a decent rear window. Hey, add dipping mirrors too – got to be cheaper than a camera system.

  • avatar
    76triumph

    This story made an appearance on ATC this afternoon:
     
    http://www.npr.org/2011/02/28/134132822/high-tech-rearview-mirror-can-reveal-blind-spots


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