This is another helpful technology, the cost is low (I have seen after market kits for under $200), and a lot of cars are already adding this feature anyway. The blind spot behind a car is huge (some worse than others). If it saves 1 kid from getting run over, I will gladly pay the extra $200 when buying my next car. Can you put a price on a child or anyone else's life? There is no one technology that will save every life or prevent every accident, but every little bit helps. In response to the one commenter who is a volunteer firefighter, I am a volunteer paramedic, about 3 or 4 years ago we added backup cameras to all of our ambulances (the blind spot behind them is HORRIBLE, no backup mirror at all). We have not had a single backing up accident since! We used to rack up a few dozen accidents a year involving damage to the ambulance or to other people's property. Fortunately, there was never any injury to a person, but when you see how easy it is to damage property when backing up an ambulance, it could just as easily be a small child excited to see the flashing lights standing behind the truck in the blind spot. I can only imagine how much this would help on a firetruck which is much larger!
I would think a sufficient number of drivers would use the system to warrant the investment. And how expensive is a camera system anyway? It will probably save lives. The practice of delivery and maintenance drivers using those small cones around their parked vehicles has reportedly reduced accidents.
Charles, I agree with you on the uselessness of even more regulation. It seems so many people tend to frame the arguments around whether or not this is a good technology. Sure, if it it is hard to use, doesn't fully address a problem, is too expensive... these are the reasons that some are using for advising against the regulation. However, I take a step even farther back and say: so what? Here's another bell or whistle driving up the price. Why can't I as a consumer pick and choose the features (and thereby the price) that I want on the products I purchase?
I see that some people think that the driver has complete control of the environment around a car. There is no way of being aware of everything that is going on. Having the most amount of information, in a way that can be used, is my choice. Even if the car was reduced to a bare frame with no body to block the view, you still could not see everything at once. Yes, people do have to be willing to use a backup camera. They also have to be willing to use turn signals. I'm sure we all know that many people do not use them. Sometimes they use them to signal for a left turn, and then go straight. But even with the non users I still think they are useful. I may not know what everyone is going to do, but I know what some of the drivers are going to do, and that is better than nothing.
Some people have said that a beeper behind the car is their choice. I have a backup beeper on my pickup and most people driving behind me as I back out of parking space do not hear it. They cannot even hear an emergency siren. It is useful to warn people who are on foot, but it does little for cars. I do not want to depend on somone seeing or hearing me. I want to know about them. In the same way, I like daytime driving lights. They give me more information about another car than I get from a car without the lights. If I am more aware of other cars I can do a better job of driving.
I do not think of driving a a blood sport. I think of driving as a whole bunch of people who have to work together. We have to see each other, and respond to what we see. I will try to use any tools that help with that. I do agree with those who say it is important to have the screen for a backup camera designed in such a way that is easy to see without blocking other things on the dashboard, or thru the windshield.
It definitely fills a blind spot, Rob. I recommend that drivers check it out when you get in your car. If you're honest about it, you'll find that you'd be unable to see a toddler behind the car for a minimum of 20 feet (without the camera). Now, we need to find out if drivers will successfully use this system.
I think you're right, Rob, when you say that if you have been properly trained, you shouldn't have to worry about a new system weakening your process. For whatever reason, though, I feel uncomfortable looking back and forth -- over my shoulder and then forward again -- when I'm backing up with a rear-view camera. I suspect that discomfort would go away after a couple of weeks.
A backup camera is one more unreliable stupid distraction for drivers. The ultrasonic system that has been in production for several years is better and less distracting. Besides that, how long after a backup video display is added, will it take to figure out all sorts of other distractions for the driver while not backing the car?
What is the real, not estimated, or pulled from thin air, number of serious injuries that are caused by backing? And, more important, how many of those would have been prevented if the driver had paid attention? A dozen cameras are not going to make an unattentive driver any safer. Engineers know that, but lawmakers can only hear lobbyists with money in their hands. WE all know that, as well. What we need to do is set aside what those who stand to make a profit selling these mandatory systems say and examine facts. Laws passed on the basis of irrational emotions are so very "California". Their track record is absolute proof of that.
I think if you're trained well in how to drive, you don't have to worry about a new system weakening the way you already proceed. Anything that gives you greater visibility is a plus. I see this as my daughter is learnign to drive. She has two side mirrors and a rear-view mirror, but there is still a blind spot. I keep insisting she look over her shoulder before changing lanes (and likewise staying out of other drivers' blid spots). The mirrors are great, but you still have to look over your shoulder.
cvandwater: I agree with you that backup beepers cannot and should not take the place of mandatory dilignce on the part of the driver. That was my point in my earlier comment. But I don't think we've reached the point where we know how useful these cameras are. I agree with the very logical point that back-up cameras enable you to see things that no amount of diligence allows you to see -- IF drivers use them correctly and learn to trust them. But if you look at the earlier comments here (mine included) many drivers don't yet feel comfortable depending on a camera. The natural tendency is to turn around and look over your shoulder, because that's the way you've done it for many years. Do we know if these cameras will really reduce accidents and fatalities? I think NHTSA needs to keep looking at this issue.
In honor of Earth Day, the National Security Agency has launched the STEM Recycling Challenge in Maryland schools to encourage kids to think about where the garbage they throw out every day actually goes. The agency has also introduced “Dunk,” a muscular blue cartoon recycling bin wearing shorts and sneakers.
A slew of announcements about new materials and design concepts for transportation have come out of several trade shows focusing on plastics, aircraft interiors, heavy trucks, and automotive engineering. A few more announcements have come independent of any trade shows, maybe just because it's spring.
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