By on December 3, 2010

Don’t you hate how modern crash test standards and bunker-inspired design trends conspire to make it impossible to see out the back of most vehicles? So does the government agency that requires those crash-test standards. According to a new proposed rule [full proposal in PDF here]:

NHTSA is proposing to expand the required field of view for all passenger cars, trucks, multipurpose passenger vehicles, buses, and low-speed vehicles rated at 10,000 pounds or less, gross vehicle weight.  Specifically, NHTSA is proposing to specify an area immediately behind each vehicle that the driver must be able to see when the vehicle’s transmission is in reverse.  It appears that, in the near term, the only technology available with the ability to comply with this proposal would be a rear visibility system that includes a rear-mounted video camera and an in-vehicle visual display.  Adoption of this proposal would significantly reduce fatalities and injuries caused by backover crashes involving children, persons with disabilities, the elderly, and other pedestrians.

But how many of the 228 annual fatalities blamed on backover incidents in light-duty vehicles would really have been solved by a backup camera, and how many were caused by plain stupidity or negligence? After all, even NHTSA admits that the proposed fix might not make a difference…

But the government can’t just do nothing about the stupidity of its citizens. So rather than come to the understanding that government is incapable of protecting irresponsible citizens from themselves,

the agency has tentatively concluded that providing the driver with additional visual information about what is directly behind the driver’s vehicle is the only effective near-term solution at this time to reduce the number of fatalities and injuries associated with backover crashes

Because it’s not the best solution, dammit, it’s the only solution. And armed with that “tentative” conclusion, NHTSA’s boffins set about looking for a “tentative” solution:

We tentatively concluded that an area with a width of 10 feet (5 feet to either side of a rearward extension of the vehicle’s centerline) and a length of 20 feet extending backward from a transverse vertical plane tangent to the rearmost point on the rear bumper encompasses the highest risk area for children and other pedestrians to be struck.  Therefore, we are proposing that test objects of a particular size within that area must be visible to drivers when they are driving backward.

Needless to say, no vehicle is capable of providing that kind of rearward vision without some kind of video or sensor system… at least not in this age of bloated C-pillars and gunslit windows. As a result, it seems that starting in 2014, every vehicle will need to be equipped with some form of backup camera system. NHTSA envisions the following phase-in:

  • 0% of the vehicles manufactured before September 1, 2012;
  • 10% of the vehicles manufactured on or after September 1, 2012, and before September 1, 2013;
  • 40% of the vehicles manufactured on or after September 1, 2013, and before September 1, 2014; and
  • 100% of the vehicles manufactured on or after September 1, 2014.

The one downside: NHTSA admits that of all the possible solutions, video backup systems are

the most expensive single technology.  When installed in a vehicle without any existing visual display screen, rearview video systems are currently estimated to cost consumers between $159 and $203 per vehicle, depending on the location of the display and the angular width of the lens.  For a vehicle that already has a suitable visual display, such as one found in route navigation systems, the incremental cost of such a system is estimated to be $58 – $88, depending on the angular width of the lens.

Based on the composition and size of the expected vehicle fleet, the total incremental cost, compared to the MY 2010 fleet, to equip a 16.6 million new vehicle fleet with rearview video systems is estimated to be $1.9 billion to $2.7 billion annually.  These costs are admittedly substantial.

Indeed they are… especially for an industry that also has to balance crashworthiness with sharply-increasing fuel-efficiency standards. But if this will really stop people from being backed over and killed, it might be worth it. What’s the story there?

Using the effectiveness estimates that we have generated and assuming that all vehicles would be equipped with this technology, we believe the annual fatalities that are occurring in backing crashes can be reduced by 95 to 112.

That’s $20m+ per life saved… again, assuming that sheer technology-proof idiocy isn’t the real cause of most of these crashes. Which it probably is. But luckily, NHTSA has some emotionally manipulative arguments that might make you justify that cost regardless. To wit:

100 of the 228 annual victims of backover crashes are very young children with nearly their entire lives ahead of them. There are strong reasons, grounded in this consideration and in considerations of equity, to prevent these deaths… Some of the benefits of the proposed rule are hard to quantify, but are nonetheless real and significant.  One such benefit is that of not being the direct cause of the death or injury of a person and particularly a small child at one’s place of residence. In some of these cases, parents are responsible for the deaths of their own children; avoiding that horrible outcome is a significant benefit… There is evidence that many people value the lives of children more than the lives of adults.In any event, there is special social solicitude for protection of children. This solicitude is based in part on a recognized general need to protect children given their greater vulnerability to injury and inability to protect themselves.

NHTS argues that because small children can’t be trained to listen for “backup beeps,” backup cameras are necessary.

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63 Comments on “Feds Eye Mandatory Backup Cameras...”

  • avatar

    We’ve “solved” the problem of front impact deaths, “solved” the problem of side impact deaths, “solved” the problem of single car loss of control accidents, “solved” the problem of rollover deaths, and now we are going to “solve” the problem that we can’t see out of the car anymore because all the roof pillars are so damn thick!!

  • avatar

    This should not be mandated for small and normal sized cars.  However it does make sense for trucks, crossovers, SUVs and minivans b/c drivers of said vehicles typically cannot see anything 3′ or shorter unless it is at least 30’+ behind it.

  • avatar
    N Number

    This is what happens when the federal payrolls are too high.  There are too many people sitting around trying to justify their jobs, so they come up with this nonsense.  Leave me alone.  Stop trying to protect me.  I can look out for myself.

    • 0 avatar

      That’s the point, they’re about to legislate you to look out for others… using a LCD.

    • 0 avatar

      Maybe you could also make the case to abolish the FDA and the NTSB – let the free market decide how much food poisoning and plane crashes the public wants.
      This is not a case against safety standards, but if those standards are actually effective.

    • 0 avatar

      Perhaps those 228 morons that run over their own kids each year could pay attention to what they are doing, and not force the rest of the public to pay money for a new unneeded technology.
      I mean really, what parent, when leaving the house, doesn’t even say goodbye to their kids – thus knowing WHERE the kids are???

    • 0 avatar

      <i>I mean really, what parent, when leaving the house, doesn’t even say goodbye to their kids – thus knowing WHERE the kids are???</i>

      Huh?  You don’t let your kids outside to play unsupervised while you run to the store and your spouse is home?  Your kids are under the direct supervision of a parent at all times of the day – that seems a little extreme doesn’t it?

    • 0 avatar
      N Number

      I’d LOVE to see the FDA abolished, you have no idea, and so many other administrations.  The NTSB, however is one government body that I actually like.  It has zero regulatory authority and can only make recommendations to DOT administrations.  As such, it is incredibly objective in its investigations of plane crashes, and its recommendations reflect that.  The FAA on the other hand… well we’ll save that for another day.

      No, they’re trying to REGULATE me to look out for others. Nobody was elected to do this. That’s the problem with administrations.

    • 0 avatar
      Thomas Kent

      How many times have you backed over yourself?

  • avatar

    This is not so much a case of the nanny state but of questionable technology. If they are trying to prevent SUV and truck pedestrian collisions (especially children) then research has shown that backup cameras do not solve that problem. The technology would need to involve better computerized pedestrian detection before it is of more use. I also seriously doubt that most cars would need such a device for rear visibility.

  • avatar

    Shenanigans on $159-$203 delta per car.  New dash redesign + new tooling + new systems integration + new wiring harness + ….  > $203.

  • avatar

    Ok.  Jeez.  Scrambling cell phones, now this?  Look these rear sensors and cameras are pretty nice tech.  But mandatory?!  Seriously?!  We must really be scraping the bottom of the barrel.
    But what you expect?  poor training, poor licensing, poor testing, vehicles in poor condition are no problem.  But cell phones and rear visibility are?
    Between all this safety nanny state crap, the ridiculous arbitrary CAFE garbage, throw in 2 automakers on the gov bankrolls, and at what point is the auto industry just another government department and no longer a business that makes decisions based on business?
    Its simply ridiculous.  Things getting done only because the government decides they should be, not for any sound business reasons.
    I’m getting tired of this government knows what’s best for everyone all the time garbage.  They can FOff as far as I’m concerned.  And quit wasting my money while they’re at it.

    • 0 avatar
      N Number

      +1, heartily.

    • 0 avatar

      But how do you feel about unfunded, unnecessary wars and irresponsible tax policy?
      And tell me govt mandated safety measures of the last 35 years have done no good.

      Curiously I would trust government ahead of the “free market” whose only goal is to make money.  Let’s see…a government bureaucrat reviewing my health insurance claim or an insurance company bureaucrat whose motivation is to deny my claim.  Hmmmm, tough decision.
      Go load up on ammo and canned goods and wait for the end in your tree house.

  • avatar

    This is just terrific. I’m so glad the government is going to save us from ourselves. How about if the price of gas goes up to about $6 or $7 per gallon because of additional taxes? Then no one would buy SUVs/CUVs that they didn’t actually need and the “need” for backup cameras would be solved. Of course the gas tax thing would never happen, but it’s nice to dream.

  • avatar

    I already have this. It’s called a rear-view mirror.
    The real question is what the ties are between the nhtsa and the manf of these solutions.

    • 0 avatar
      Thomas Kent

      Your rear-view mirror has X-Ray vision to see through the thick C-pillars and the high trunk lid?
      I’m seriously considering getting an aftermarket rear view video system for my Pontiac G6!

      Now if only I could do something about those thick A-pillars! Many times I’ve made a left out of a parking lot and have almost been T-boned because the oncoming car was hidden from my view by those A-pillars!

  • avatar

  • avatar

    I believe the huge rear pillars and high beltlines that minimize the greenhouse and compromise visibility are mostly a contemporary styling trend rather than the result of bloated safety features. Chalk me up as one TTAC reader who thinks the recent safety-bashing (this post and the one that reamed the IIHS) are truthfully about gathering eyeballs and generating commentary rather than disseminating truth.  Speaking of generating commentary:
    I’m thinking the percentage of additional weight, size, loss of visibility, etc. attributable to safety features is a small fraction of the total bloat when compared to style and the simple consumer desire for sheer size.  Of course, I’m not an automotive journalist and have neither the time nor skills nor editorial mandate to dig up actual numbers from reliable sources.  If I did, I’d be curious to compare different generations of a vehicle from today with one from about 30-40  years ago to see how much of that really came from safety.  One likely vehicle would be the Chevrolet Suburban from 1973 through the present.  These all had about the same wheelbase and length.
    It looks something like this:
    1973 Suburban: 4,850 lbs
    1992 Suburban: 4,634 lbs
    2000 Suburban: 4,914 lbs
    2007 Suburban: 5,607 lbs
    Of course, this is not a journalistic-ally robust or statistically sound sampling as there are variations in drive train, interior options (rear seat, etc.), towing packages, etc. etc. that allow for a huge range in curb weight within any model year. Still, until 2007 Suburbans weighed pretty much the same for a quarter century (and I didn’t check earlier ones).  Of course, these are body on frame trucks.
    Another obvious example would be to compare the different generations of the Honda Accord 4-door sedan–just parking them side by side suggests to even the most casual observer that the difference in weight is due to the increase in size.
    1976 Honda Accord sedan (1st Gen): 162″ long and 2,000 lbs
    2008 Honda Accord sedan (8th Gen): 194″ long and 3,230 lbs
    Well, this was about 10 minutes with Google, Wikipedia. Still, I’d like to know more.
    The backing-up problem is real, especially short drivers in tall cars. We live in a cul-de-sac and the downside of this supposedly ideal suburban location is that kids play in the street and there are lots of driveways from which people back up. This is a major safety problem in culs-de-sac. We taught our kids the dangers of driver’s not seeing them by teaching them to identify back-up lights and by sitting them in the driver’s seat of our car and having them observe how little could be seen.  Another excellent safety trick for kids is to teach them to always (politely) greet the neighbors when they see them.  That way Mr. Smith knows there is a kid around.

    • 0 avatar

      I think the last few sentences state what SHOULD be done.  Instead, now apparently the government has to try to fix everything for us.  That’s my problem.  No responsibility?  No parenting?  Just have the government do it….and all of us pay for it.
      I don’t have kids, I don’t hang around kids, I have no need for a backup camera.  But now I’m gonna be forced to pay for one?
      They are already optional, leave it that way.  Concerned parents can spend their own money on one.

    • 0 avatar

      My mom has lived on a cul-de-sac for 20 years. She’s always driven straight into her driveway, and I’ve always turned around and backed in. A few months ago when backing out, she pranged her back bumper on an SUV that had been left more or less randomly in the middle of the street. Now, she backs in…
      When possible, I ALWAYS back into parking spaces.

    • 0 avatar

      Oh, God, thank you, findude. I’m sick of people whining about how 10 2lb airbags and the associated 5lbs of wiring and sensors are responsible for the 1000lbs the Accord has gained since they drove it when they were young and they really loved that car and how come everything isn’t exactly like it was when we were 16???
      And then the same crew demands SOLID switchgear, SOLID door handles, SOFT materials, SILENT cars, THICK carpet,… leather, 10 electric motors in every seat, big audio amplifiers, lots of sound damping, big rims, big-ass powerful engines… but no, it’s the airbags. And the crumple zones! They weigh a LOT! Damn that CAE!
      *shakes head*
      Essentially, what I see on TTAC is a bunch of people who desperately want things to be like they were when they were 16 to 25. The people who are 40 now think that three point harnesses and basic crashworthiness are all that’s necessary.
      The people who are 50 think that cross-lined brakes and radial tires are more than enough safety, and the people who are 60+ can’t see any reason why anyone needs seatbelts, brakes, or anything but a shining expanse of chrome beyond the two-inch steel pipe aimed at their hearts – after all, they slept in the back of station wagons rolling around like loose potatoes, and they’re still here, right? And none of their college friends were killed in car accidents as children either! Case closed!
      And on the other axis you’ve got the mens’ men, who claim that driving skill will prevent any possible accident, and that any safety gear at all is superfluous if you “know how to drive”. An idiot-driven F-350 Superduties coming around a blind corner, blowing through a stop sign, punching its through your ’85 Civic’s driver side door, and leaving “ⱭЯO” stamped on the side of your head? Impossible!

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      @Perisoft:  Priceless; I love it!
      I’m over 60.  I can recall seeing a car doing 360 degree spins headed down a straight stretch of a freeway in LA, while the rest of traffic maintained a respectful distance behind.  This was on a clear day with dry pavement, BTW.  It was common knowledge that the one good stop drum brakes would give you from 70 mph was possible only if you were expert enough to avoid locking up the rear wheels . . . a job made more difficult if your car had power brakes, because drum brakes are self-actuating.  But we don’t need no stinkin’ ABS!
      And bias-ply tires with the circumferential zig-zag striping we all drove on melted into liquid when overheated by a skid, going from full adhesion to zero in less than a second.  But this was a feature, not a bug: the resulting stripe on the pavement allowed the investigating officer to estimate vehicle speed in a collision.  And I remember driving 60 miles an hour in the rain on such tires in my Karmann Ghia, feeling the car get up on a hydroplane at 65, as my car began to steer like a boat.  But we don’t need not stinkin’ radial tires . . . and besides them tires ride hard at low speeds.
      Etc. . . .
      That said, having test-driven a Honda Pilot with a backup camera, I can see both their strength and weakness.  The strength is obvious; but, as one poster down the thread points out, the weakness is that, in order to see them, you’re not looking where you’re going . . . a bad thing.  As the parent of three children who safely made it to adulthood, I don’t think it’s too much to ask of unsupervised kids that they NOT play around cars with people in them and that, if they see a car with a person in it that might possibly be in their path, they focus on getting out of that car’s way.  Kids who are too young to carry out such instructions should not be allowed to play unsupervised where there are, or might be, moving cars– i.e. on the street or on the sidewalk next to a street or driveway.  And surely an adult who gets into a car in a driveway is capable of telling his kids playing in the front yard to get out of — and stay out of — that driveway, before the adult even gets into the car.

    • 0 avatar

      My mom has lived on a cul-de-sac for 20 years. She’s always driven straight into her driveway, and I’ve always turned around and backed in. A few months ago when backing out, she pranged her back bumper on an SUV that had been left more or less randomly in the middle of the street. Now, she backs in…
      Her vehicle has such poor visibility out the back that she couldn’t even see an SUV?  Dang, we need better windows in modern vehicles!

  • avatar

    Stock up on used Dodge Dynastys & Chrysler New Yorkers, Acclaims/Spirits, 1st gen Luminas, Fairmonts, LTDs and almost everything else from that era where you can actually see the trunk edge out the back window, let alone having a beltline that you can rest your elbow on.

  • avatar

    I’m glad that Ed ran this post because when I saw the news in my emailed Automotive News updates, I almost wrote something myself. The widespread use of backup cameras may end up causing more accidents than they prevent.

    I’m currently testing a Jaguar that has most of the bells and whistles including a back up camera (with superimposed guide lines that adjust as you turn the wheel). While it’s a nice feature, I’m worried about unintended consequences.
    I found that with the backup camera I have a tendency to watch the screen, not actually turn around and look out the back window.
    While backup cameras may help prevent about 300 tragedies a year, they might actually result in more accidents. The width of the viewing angle means that you only see directly behind the car + maybe 10 to 15 degrees on each side.
    This is what I think will happen. People will become overly reliant on the backup camera. They’ll put the car into reverse, look at the video display and start to back out. Then they’ll get t-boned by another car that they didn’t see because they didn’t turn around to check for actual traffic.
    Ray LaHood wouldn’t understand this because Ray LaHood has had a chauffeured  limo at least since he’s been a state governor.
    From now on, whenever I interview a politician who is talking about regulating cars or driving, my standard question will be, “How often do you drive yourself and how often are you driven?”
    When I asked John Dingell’s press rep how often the congressman uses a driver, they wouldn’t answer that question.

  • avatar

    Perhaps a better solution would be to set a minimum daylight opening number. Some newer designs are actively hostile to backup up while looking over your shoulder – the new Hyundai Tucson and Cadillac SRX come to mind.

    • 0 avatar

      As does the new Nissan Juke. We’re shopping for a small 5-door for the wife. She rejected the Juke instantly as soon as she sat in the driver’s seat and looked over her shoulder.

  • avatar

    How many of those deaths are caused by vehicles (like pickups) that may have accessories mounted on them that would block the camera?
    And yes, 200 deaths a year is sad, but 20 million dollars per life potentially saved is outrageous.

  • avatar
    jonny b

    Do these cameras really work? The image created by these fish-eye lenses is extremely distorted and gives you no sense of scale. I grant you that for trucks and vans they are very helpful, but for the vast majority of passenger cars they seem vastly inferior to rear-view mirrors and/or turning your head around.

    • 0 avatar

      Our Acura MDX has a rear-view camera. It works well. There is no distortion. The picture is surprisingly good. I can see much more than I can through the rear-view mirror or by turning my head.
      That being said, making these cameras mandatory seems foolish. Spending billions of dollars to possibly save a few lives sounds good to politicians. But senseless deaths will still occur. That’s the tragedy of the human condition.
      This is yet another case of government out of control.

  • avatar

    And the war on the car continues.

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      More than 100x more people die in and around cars every year than do at the hands of terrorists. So, if a War on Terror is justified … perhaps you are on to something.

    • 0 avatar

      John Horner, what kind of arguement is that? That’s a senseless comparison. What is your point? The car is worse than Islamic terrorism? That’s foolish and you know it, quit trying to be smart and make vaild points when you post. Ridiculous.

  • avatar

    How about we mandate that every person who climbs behind the wheel of a car has a brain.

  • avatar

    The government cares about 200 people struck by trunk lids but is ready to radiate millions of airline passengers and allows sale of pesticide-laden groceries to the entire population. Come on! I feel to leaving this country.

    • 0 avatar

      To begin with, the companies making agricultural chemicals have been making them more specific, with lower doses needed for effective pest control, so our produce is hardly “pesticide-laden”.
      The reality is that farm pesticides improve our health. They make it possible for many more people to get fresh fruits and vegetables. If agricultural pesticides were as harmful as you think, the people with the greatest exposure, those who eat a lot of fresh fruit and veggies, would be showing some health effects. Of course the opposite is true, they have better health than those who don’t eat fresh produce.

    • 0 avatar

      “The reality is that farm pesticides improve our health”
      Only lunatic could say this. This is why organic is on the rise – because we were getting too healthy.
      Whatever we eat here in America is prohibited in Europe.
      America is a nation of mostly fat idiots who actually believes of what greedy business tells them. As a matter fact, this nation is so fat (figuratively) that we are too lazy to stand to our own government’s doings.
      “How fortunate for governments that the people they administer don’t think.”
      Adolf Hitler

    • 0 avatar

      “The reality is that farm pesticides improve our health. They make it possible for many more people to get fresh fruits and vegetables. If agricultural pesticides were as harmful as you think, the people with the greatest exposure, those who eat a lot of fresh fruit and veggies, would be showing some health effects. Of course the opposite is true, they have better health than those who don’t eat fresh produce.”

      These claims are unsubstantiated. We do not eat produce that is diseased or rotten. Vegetable and fruit consumption has not gone up.  Pesiticides allow for a larger crop to be obtained cheaply, and sold for next to nothing or turned into creations that find themselves in artificial food products.
      As to health effects, if you knew anything about epidemiology, you would realize it is very difficult to do a study on the effect of pesiticides on population health, it is doable, but even so, it would be take decades to study the effect on a population-level.

    • 0 avatar

      Only lunatic could say this.
      TTAC is a place for civil comment. Please review the guidelines for comments here. Your comment violates the no-flaming rule.  The next time you call a writer or commenter here something like “lunatic”, I won’t refrain from having Ed or Bertel delete your comment. TTAC is not a place for ad hominem attacks.
      This is why organic is on the rise – because we were getting too healthy.
      Nothing to do with trendy fads, nope, not at all. Few people are more faddish than liberal foodies. As for what’s “organic”, I eat a kosher diet and I’m well aware of how food certifying agencies can have varying standards. There is produce certified as “organic” that doesn’t meet the common sense meaning of the word.
      I also used to work for Eden’s Natural Foods when they were in Ann Arbor. The devotion of some veggies, vegans, locovores and other food fanatics to the moral rightness of their personal diets eclipses that of most orthodox Jews that I know. I don’t care if you eat pork, but the food nannies seem to have a problem with me eating a nice red apple that was made possible through the use of agrichemicals.
      People today live well into their 80s, with much better health than people used to have in their 70s. A lot of that is due to good nutrition.
      Whatever we eat here in America is prohibited in Europe.
      Ah, the old, “they are so much more progressive in Europe than in bad bad America”. You should know that your fellow elitists have been saying that for 234 years. The last time I looked, America still exports a considerable amount of grain and other foodstuffs.
      Frankly, I fear that the overuse of antibiotics in livestock is a much greater hazard than stuff that keeps bugs from eating produce.
      America is a nation of mostly fat idiots who actually believes of what greedy business tells them.
      But you are one of those who are enlightened, right? There’s no shortage of people who think that they’re smarter and morally superior to others.

      Why do you think that businesses are any more greedy than you are? I’ve worked with high level executives (senior VPs of a Fortune 10 company) and interviewed CEOs and I find that they’re just people like you and me. From my perspective, I think that public employee unions are far greedier than business people. When business people bribe politicians, it’s called corruption. When public employee unions do the same it’s called campaign contributions.

    • 0 avatar

      When business people bribe politicians, it’s called corruption. When public employee unions do the same it’s called campaign contributions.

      Hellooooo, misdirection and oversimplification…
      You know, I was on board until you just had to get in the requisite ‘liberal’ insult. Really? You can’t just stand on the merits of your argument; you have to haul out the left-wing-right-wing canard? Sigh. And the thing is, I agree with a lot of what you’re saying, particularly the bit about antibiotics being vastly more dangerous than pesticides. You essentially took a reasoned argument that I agree with, but made sure to slop enough partisanship in to slot it neatly back into the standard red-vs-blue polarization. Too bad…

    • 0 avatar

      TTAC is not a place for ad hominem attacks unless you’re one of the annointed few.
      There, I fixed it for you

      But you are one of those who are enlightened, right? There’s no shortage of people who think that they’re smarter and morally superior to others.
      Hypocritical irony meter borked.

    • 0 avatar

      TTAC is not a place for ad hominem attacks unless you’re one of the annointed few.

      Pointing out an ad hominem is not itself an ad hominem. As for being anointed (one N, please), you’re welcome to submit something for Ur Turn.
      But you are one of those who are enlightened, right? There’s no shortage of people who think that they’re smarter and morally superior to others.

      Hypocritical irony meter borked.
      Only if that meter is calibrated to ignore the difference between calling someone a lunatic and asking if someone thinks they’re enlightened. You do know what a question is, don’t you?
      Criticizing an elitist point of view, pointing out that there’s a palpable sense of moral superiority, is a far cry from saying that something is lunacy.
      I find it amusing when anonymous commenters take potshots at people willing to take the slings and arrows that come with signing their work. Also, considering that all I had to do was send Ed an email quoting “lunatic” and the comment would have been deleted, it’s also amusing that you think we writers abuse special privilege.

      My opinion isn’t worth much, about 10 cents a word, but it’s probably more than anyone’s willing to pay you for yours.

  • avatar

    The costs of these “safety features” is going up as their effectiveness goes down. At some point we as a people need to conclude that driving is as safe as we’re going to be able to make it and use the money for something else. I would argue that we are at that point.
    I would also argue that at some point all these various “safety features” are going to become more of a distraction to the average driver than talking or texting ever will.

  • avatar

    GOAL. Get Out And Look. I do it all the time. No big deal. Sometimes I even put down the cell phone and or cheeseburger too! 

  • avatar

    Follow the $$$. This isn’t about safety, this is about a cash cow.  A federally mandated cash cow.

  • avatar

    OK, this got me:
    “100 of the 228 annual victims of backover crashes are very young children with nearly their entire lives ahead of them”

    So, what, if they were young children with terminal cancer, hey, open season?

    In other news, if the WYSIWYG editor goes nuts, try going to the last line, typing a character, hitting delete, and typing it again. Every time you repeat that, it’ll get bigger and bigger, until it won’t even fit in the window. +1!

  • avatar

    3308 people drowned in the US last year, many of which were children, (many more than 100), isn’t it about time they build a fence around the country to stop people from going into the ocean…
    (PS, in my 89 Scorpio apart from some thin A-posts there is mostly glass all the way round )

  • avatar

    Same as airbags. They weren’t the best safety devices at the time, but we mandated them anyway. Technology-specific solution = look for lobbyists hanging out nearby.

    Besides the obvious somebody-lobbied-that-idea-through problem…

    One thing I don’t get about backup cameras.

    The book (you know, the one you read and take an exam on before they hand you a learner’s permit) says that you’re supposed to grab the passenger headrest with your right hand, turn all the way around, and look where you’re going while slooooowly backing up.

    Now, tell me, how am I gonna be staring at the backup camera screen while looking BACKWARDS? If anything, a small mirror in the back of the car (looking down) would arguably do the trick, much better so than any camera system.

    Don’t forget that one of the reasons why you’re supposed to turn back instead of just looking in the rearview mirror is so that you have a VERY wide field of vision that’s easily associated with your body position. You know, so that you don’t get run over by a semi while backing out onto a busy street. Or so that you don’t back out into the way of a kid riding a bicycle on the sidewalk.

    My guess for the next great idea: they’re gonna mandate a brain wave reader that’ll turn on the turn signal for you. Cause if you can’t reliably put on the seatbelt or look back when driving in reverse, you’re obviously in need of more nannies that can do this stuff for you.

    • 0 avatar

      “If anything, a small mirror in the back of the car (looking down) would arguably do the trick, much better so than any camera system.”
      No Soviet-style solutions allowed, comrade!
      When will we have cameras and data-loggers for determining accident causes? If my insurance company gave me a discount, I would choose to install this to protect myself against other drivers. (But make it optional or incentivised, not mandatory.)

  • avatar

    The gov’t needs to back off on this one and just tell people to go out and buy one if they think they need one. You can buy a kit that includes a wireless camera and LCD screen for $100 at Best Buy. Problem solved.

  • avatar

    A camera screen is dependent on the operator paying attention.  As mentioned already, the operator is actually multi-tasking because they must pay attention to the limited range of the camera and also look back and side to side to view the bigger picture. (pun intended)

    I would believe that a simple radar based audio warning system would be more effective in both function & cost.

    The design for a base version…
    The control unit could be in-trunk mounted.   The sensors could be standardized in the bumpers and plug into the trunk unit.    The unit to be activated by the back-up light circuit.    The sound could be plumbed into the vehicles existing speakers.   A simple upgrade could allow blind spot detection using activation from the turn signals.  (This could be an “option” profit opportunity for an automaker since the cost of additional function would almost be the same.) 

    A crescendo audio sound will get the operators attention no matter where they are looking.  
    Not only does this promote safety, it also assists in parking.

    I don’t like mandates, but if so this seems a better option.       

    BTW…In China this is a must have option with their tight parking situations and people everywhere. 

  • avatar

    Many moons ago the Army taught me to walk around any vehicle to me moved, especially look in the direction of travel. Then be alert, and extra care if backing.
    Maybe the problem today is ADD by device, too many people are playing with i-Pods, cell phones and even computers while trying to do the main task. How many times have you had to dodge people walking, or trying to, while yapping on a phone? Then they think they can drive while doing it? When you drive, you must “be there”, not fumbling with some secondary device.

  • avatar

    It would certainly come in handy this time of year, where I see people driving around with the entire back window snow-covered (hope they didn’t back out of their driveway), and two little portholes on the front windshield, at least until the defrosters kick in.
    Personally, if I bought an Tucson, Sportage, CRV, etc., I’d love to be able to get a backup camera without having to buy the Nav option, or some other overpriced option package… just for my own peace of mind when backing up.
    Another side-benefit might be reduced “scrapes” during parallel parking in cities.
    Besides, this “mandate” isn’t retroactive (requiring all cars to install an aftermarket system), and is evolutionary enough that cars were already starting to offer back-up cameras (like the Equinox, which has the display in the rear-view mirror, so it doesn’t require dash redesign) anyway.
    Oh, yeah – “Cue the anti-government rants” (Late again).

    • 0 avatar

      @Shaker: Off topic – You hit upon one of my largest pet peeves, the “porthole” snow day drivers… I’m not really the kind of person who thinks that there should be a law against this kind of driving, but it is absolutely dangerous and negligent. I’d like to see this covered under reckless driving, but I don’t know the specifics of the law to determine if it applies. And realistically, law enforcement wouldn’t be able to make a dent in it after a night of lake effect snow showers.
      If you care so little for your safety, that’s your business, but if I have to drive near someone with their car in that condition, I’m pissed. I get up extra early to make sure my vehicle has the snow removed so I can see safely, and my lights are cleared so they are visible. If you can’t be bothered to at least clear the windows, get the hell off the street! There are enough handicaps to driving in winter weather, why make it worse?
      On topic: I had a GMC Acadia rental a while back that had the rear view camera in the mirror; I normally drive cars, not SUV’s, so I found the camera a great additional help in piloting that tank in the Costco parking lot. I’m not 100% sure of it’s effectiveness in a Pontiac G6, for example, but I will say that even checking around the car and twisting while backing still isn’t enough for many of these newer cars. What I really need is X-ray vision so I can see through the SUV’s and minivans that inevitably park next to me. They are so high and take up so much space, that I creep very slowly out of parking spaces anymore, because I can’t see a damned thing, and I doubt that a camera would help very much…

    • 0 avatar

      ‘zinger: Eventually, there will be cameras at all corners of cars, at least as an option; they’re getting so small and cheap, it’s inevitable – Lexus offers “all-around” monitors now.

      I guess the problem *then” will be people not brushing the snow from the camera lenses as well :-)

  • avatar
    Brian P

    My understanding from having read the proposal is that NHTSA is under the gun from Congress for this one. Congress said “do something about this”, NHTSA scrambled, and under the constraints that Congress imposed, rear view cameras are pretty much the only viable solution, nevermind the cost.
    I agree that the extra technology is unlikely to be as effective as claimed (most aren’t). Only way to use it is for the driver to be not looking where they should, and it’ll cause other problems.
    I have a car with poor rear visibility – a 2006 Jetta. The trunk lid is too high (in the interest of having a big trunk). As someone else noted, the solution to 99% of the problem is to back into parking spots.

  • avatar

    What ever happened to walking around your car before backing up? Now because of driver inattention from a few morons, the government wants to impose another federal mandate?
    No thanks.

  • avatar

    The problem with the rear-view cameras is that the driver will become camera myopic.  I found myself succumbing to this when driving my wife’s Prius which has a back-up camera.  You stare at the camera while backing up and neglect to check your side-mirrors.  The camera is only good for showing you what is immediately behind you, not what is around the rear quarter panels.

    Once I felt myself becoming fixated on the rear-view camera, I quickly stopped the car, checked my side-view mirrors, and continued to back out like I would normally do (without using the camera).

    I guarantee you more accidents will occur in parking lots because of these cameras as everyone will fixate on them.  They will then issue side-view cameras to combat the growing incident of side-swipes.

  • avatar

    OK, let me get this straight.  We have identified what may be a real safety problem in today’s cars.  They have such poor visibility that you can’t back them up safely.  Why not fix the safety problem, instead of adding an expensive (and questionably effective) workaround?  In other words, if the government is going to mandate something, why not set visibility standards for each vehicle type (car, van, truck) and require cars to meet them?

    When I owned a ’63 Cadillac, the one called a “six window sedan” with a very airy greenhouse and thin pillars all around, and rear fender ends visible from inside the car, I used to amaze people with my ability to parallel park such a behemoth.  But if you have superb visibility, parking anything is easy.  Noe before you start telling me the 63 ways that ’63 Caddy was a deathtrap — I know.  But are you telling me that after 47 years of materials, design and technology improvements, we can’t design a car that has the same visibility but meets today’s safety standards?  I cannot understand how that could be true.

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