Automotive News
Debate Continues as Ruling on Backup Cameras Postponed

The Chevy Equinox displays the backup camera image in its rear-view mirror. (Source: Chevrolet)
The Chevy Equinox displays the backup camera image in its rear-view mirror.
(Source: Chevrolet)

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Re: not so "common" sense
kleetus   3/6/2012 3:21:22 PM
LOL Ok, I'll go along with that!


Interestingly enough however, I have a Lincoln LS, which is basically an American version of a 3 Series BMW (that frankly I wish they'd bring back..) which has rear park assist and abysmal mirrors. Ok for changing lanes, but backing up, you definitely have to know your vehicle. My other ride is a F250 Superduty that I pull a 32 foot gooseneck horse trailer with. No park assist, and you can't see directly behind you, but as you pull past to see if you even fit, it should be enough time/view to see whats around. And lastly, I'm also a volunteer firefighter, so I have been driving our trucks for probably the last 15 years. The size isn't so much the problem, but the weight. The 3000 gallon tanker is 38 feet long, and weighs in at 68k loaded, and 13 ton lighter when empty. Being in a rural area where I live, asphalt isn't always present... So gauging what you're about to get into is beneficial in determining if you get back out!

I dunno, between that and farm stuff, maybe I take the skill set for granted, but I don't see it as an unlearnable skill. Just takes practice.

User Rank
Re: not so "common" sense
cvandewater   3/6/2012 2:51:50 PM
Hi Kleetus,

Apparently I misread your earlier comment and we are in violent agreement ;-)

The only case where a backup camera helps is for operators who *want* to be safe, *do* have reasonable skill but simply can't see what is happening around them.

If you are used to the typical European nimble car and you get into a USA Boulevard Tractor (I mean the vehicles classified as farm equipment like any SUV or jacked up Pickup truck) then you too will be horrified by the loss of control on your environment, there literally can be a whole classroom standing around your vehicle and you can't see any one of them.

Oh and car manufacturers have indeed deliberately reduced the size of rear windows, because their customers indicated in questionnairs that they felt safer in a car with smaller windows. SO, who cares about the safety of lives outside the car???

Don't get me started...

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: not so "common" sense
Ann R. Thryft   3/6/2012 1:01:32 PM

No it's not news to me, cvandewater, and yes, I'm very aware of those laws. That was the point of my post. I do wait until it's clear, AFAICT. The point is, and the on-the-ground reality is, drivers can't look in all directions at once when backing out of a parking lot space, and anyone with half a brain walking near a large deadly object (today it's a car, "yesterday" it was a big predator) who is not paying attention to that object and treating it like the danger it is, is being irresponsible. So many pedestrians today seem to be oblivious to their surroundings, as do so many drivers. So I vote for warning sounds on the outside of vehicles. Of course, as soon as those become common, some people will just ignore them, too. I have had experiences just like yours. Unfortunately, I've also had experiences as a driver with irresponsible and oblivious pedestrians.

User Rank
sonar detection
John   3/6/2012 11:05:51 AM
Wow this thing is HOT! lol.  You don't have to be an idiot to run over something or someone.  A small lapse in attention is enough for an accident.  I myself, would not recommend putting a vehical in reverse with someone remotely behind it and for sure not if kids were around.  Children don't recognize danger.

I am not a professional driver with CDL liscense, but feel confident enough that I can use my mirrors, provided they are set correctly, to back my car or truck up short distances.  I don't care much for the camera idea, but I think sonar alarm system would be a good idea. 

Driving a little delivery truck around town isn't a big deal.  If you can park a heavy 40ft trailer on a well site between other trucks in the rain and heavy mud with a foot between trucks... that's some driving.

User Rank
Re: not so "common" sense
kleetus   3/6/2012 9:22:43 AM
Wow... you really don't get it do you? You wrote it down, laid it out, and you STILL don't get it.




My point is, again, based on the above premise, why should the rest of us have to pay for options to protect people from themselves? If they are too stupid or lawless as you put it, because they apparently aren't held accountable for driving over pedestrians, what good is a camera going to do? What, so they can watch the look on their victims faces as they crush them to death?

Maybe in a perfect world we could instal human recognition software for the video link, and have the computer take complete control of the car upon detection of a human or quadraped (we can't have your doggy or kitty getting smashed either can we?) the vehicle immediately solidly, locks all four wheel brakes for 30 seconds, sounds the horn, and a big boxing glove pops out of the glove box and delivers a solid left hook to the person driving because they obviously deserve it for operating a motor vehicle on a surface where people or animals have to share. Really?

I really don't believe the particular example of a 40 ft blind spot. Not doubting you, but the logic of it. How in gods name would anyone back up an 18 wheeler? The trailer alone can be upwards of 50 ft. They don't have cameras, they have SKILL. Look at a UPS or Fedex truck. So, this gets back to my original premise. You need to have some level of skill as an operator, and you as a pedestrian need to have some level of common sense to stay out of dangerous situations, and teach children the same thing once they're old enough to get around on their own for the same reasons.

Maybe it's a fallacy anymore, but I'd like to think (hope) society hasn't been dumbed down so far, that people can't figure out how to not get themselves into situations where they don't kill themselves walking down the sidewalk.

Just as a fun side note thread highjack, ever look at an old desk fan? You can stick your fingers in it, just a couple pieces of 0.125 wire bent into some kind of ornamental pattern. You can't do that today... why? Have we DE-evolved so far that we can't keep our fingers out of a fan?




User Rank
Re: not so "common" sense
cvandewater   3/6/2012 3:52:56 AM

Problem is not the kid falling out of a tree while you are backing up. The problem is the moron drivers who back out of a spot without being bothered to check for any traffic or whether it is safe. You can literally stand still behind a parked car, the driver gets in and backs over you, then tells that he did not see you, of course he claims that he looked and that you suddenly came out of nowhere.

Now try to drive safely without being able to see up to 40ft behind your vehicle.

I say that in *such* a vehicle you cannot drive safe if you have to back up, so you cannot legally do that (because the law says you have to drive safely) in such a vehicle without help. either a person standing behind the vehicle, a special mirror or a backup camera. But I am sure that you will find fault with this also - why would you be required to comply to any law anyway?

Maybe a good idea for pedestrians to be allowed to carry a gun to shoot the driver that is assaulting them with a vehicle, because the driver cannot be bothered to make sure to operate the vehicle safely - unfortunately that would still not solve the issue of so many kids getting killed in backing-over incidents.

Many of these incidents happen not in high traffic areas, but in a driveway on a cul de sac. You call for punishment of the victims and rewarding the perpetrators. I am afraid that you are very confused. You forget that pedestrians (and bicyclists) have a right to the streets, while driving a motor vehicle is a privilege and you must adhere to laws before you are allowed to operate a motor vehicle safely on public streets. So many drivers have no clue that roads were invented by bicyclists and horse-drawn carriages and after a couple decades when cars were invented, the drivers started sharing the same roads. That idea of sharing has been lost in the last few decennia when traffic engineers and people who only grew up with cars started sacrificing everything to the "Holy Cow" of motorized traffic flow, disregarding the legal and historical rights of pedestrians and bicyclists. Today you still see the results in that drivers are often not even ticketed for killing a human as long as they did not intend to kill and almost no parents dare to allow their kids to play near the street, because it is not safe with cars around since drivers are not held accountable to the carnage they cause.

Indeed - not so "common" sense if you consider that victims are punished and the bullies (drivers) are given free reign.

User Rank
Re: Back-up alerts
cvandewater   3/6/2012 3:18:32 AM

While back-up beepers can be helpful in some cases to alert others what you are about to do, it should and cannot take the place of the mandatory *making sure that there is nobody present where you want to go* because backing up is technically comparable with changing direction. Before you are allowed to change lane, you have to make sure that you will not hinder anyone with your change of direction. Before you make a turn, you have to make sure that no other traffic is passing in the same direction, including pedestrians, so you may need to wait before making your turn. Same with backing up. Unfortunately rear windows become smaller all the time, so people feel safer inside their vehicles. Also vehicles become higher and bigger all the time, which leads to these excesses that an entire junior sports team can stand behind your vehicle without you being able to see any one of them. The tragic results can be found too often in the news reports. I call those vehicles "unsafe at any speed".

Since it is the duty of the driver of the vehicle, to operate it a in a safe manner, I think that it is unavoidable to either have someone outside the vehicle during a backup procedure to watch for safe backing up, or to have tools to look behind the vehicle. There are many vehicles with additional mirrors that allow the driver to see the area immediately behind the vehicle. The backup camara is simply a modern variant of the extra mirrors that you often see on busses and delivery vehicles.

How would you suggest that drivers of vehicles with large blind spots operate their vehicle safely, especially in the vicinity of (young) pedestrians? I hope you don't consider the option of calling the carnage "accidents".

Backing-over incidents should be treated the same way as crashing into the vehicle in the next lane. You can't defend that you switched on your blinker, so the next lane should be evacuated for you - you can't say that you have lamps or backup beeper and anybody behind your vehicle should move out of the way. (That is how they drive in India, I hope that is not our future.) The driver that changes position must make sure to do so safely or face the consequences of breaking the law (punishment).

User Rank
Re: not so "common" sense
cvandewater   3/6/2012 2:57:41 AM
Ann, this may be news to you but AFAIK, anyone backing up has to give advantage to ANY traffic. This means that even pedestrians have the RIGHT to walk behind your car and you are REQUIRED to wait until the space behind your car is available before backing up. I have the impression that not many drivers can be bothered to even realize this or look for other traffic, like the lady at my local bank who backed out and I had to swerve several feet to avoid being hit by her car and she *continued* backing out. She apparently could not be bothered to look in the direction she was going. When I called her on her unsafe driving, she yelled that I should not act so hostile to her and raced away. Umh, yeah...

User Rank
Re: Just because it's there doesn't mean you'll use it
OldGeek   3/5/2012 8:32:32 PM

I'm coming down in the "For" column for several reasons, including age, poor night vision, and experience with quality and aftermarket camera systems.

You're right that not everyone will use it, but with time I think that MOST will. (How many use ALL the the equipment on any vehicle?)

I currently own a motor home that is equipped with a good (albeit aging) backup camera. I have purchased and installed a camera on my wife's last car (a Chrysler Concord with a blind spot that approached 180 degrees).

The one on the motor home is a joy, even though it's monochrome and has to have the brightness on the CRT adjusted as light conditions change. It has saved me from backing into and over numerous objects, and is sensitive enough to let me back into parking spots with just the illumination of the tail lights. If it went out, I'd replace it in a heartbeat!

The one I installed on my wife's "boat" posed several problems that highlight the need for them to be a factory standard equipment. First, even though it was wireless it required a lot of effort to install just go get power to the camera and the display. Second, there just isn't any place to put anything in a modern car! I wound up putting it on the top of the drivers sun visor, where it had to be folded down to use. Both these fairly major problems would have been easily avoided at design time of the vehicle. It ended up being used very little because of the hassle of folding it down and back up each time, and because the field of view was too wide to be of much use OTHER THAN FOR AVOIDING OBJECTS UP CLOSE.

I would love to have a decent camera on my mini-van, but even it has virtually no space for the display. I mentioned age and poor night vision: My neck, because of age and injury, is too stiff to allow me to turn around and look behind me. As a result I am forced to rely on the mirrors (I use all 3 when backing), and mirrors in low light don't cut it too well.

As for the cost objections, as usual the auto makers are quoting their inflated figures! The unit I bought for my wife's car is fairly well made, includes a nice 7 inch wide-screen color LCD, external inputs, a speaker, a microcontroller based adjustment system, internal speaker, video transmitter and receiver, enough cable that it could have been installed WITHOUT the transmitter, and a kit of flexible mounting options. Retail price? $79.00!

P.S. On the subject of field of view: My vote is for a high mount, with a 90 degree field of view. This might need to be modified on some cars to get close enough in, but will work well on SUV's and Crossovers. (That's about all we drive here in Texas; the rest of you need to get with the program! :-)


Alexander Wolfe
User Rank
Re: big help
Alexander Wolfe   3/5/2012 7:24:31 PM
I actually agree with the mandate for backup cameras. Although we were all taught during driver training to turn around and look before backing up or pulling out, the number of people who actually do this is shockingly small. I got hit by an idiot driver at my kid's school cause she couldn't be bothered to turn her head around to look as she was backing up to pull out. Clunk. Of course, one wonders whether the drivers who give a cursory look into the rear view mirror will use the back-up camera screen. Also, there is a bit of an orientation issue, in that your brain has to process the info on the screen and correlate it with the fact that you're going backwards, not forwards.

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