More than 18,000 people are injured every year in accidents that involve a vehicle that is moving in reverse. Young children and elderly adults are more at risk for being involved in this type of accident. In fact, children who are under 5 years old comprise almost half of those who are killed in an accident where the vehicle was backing up.
Roughly 50 children are being backed over by cars and trucks every week in the United States. Two of these children are killed, and the other 48 are provided with emergency room care. This is obviously a serious and troubling problem in the United States.
A Potential Solution
Newer cars, truck, and SUVs are starting to come standard with backup cameras. Approximately 46 percent of new models included backup cameras in 2014. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is requiring that all new cars have rearview cameras by 2018.
Car owners can also purchase a kit to add a backup camera to their older vehicles. This is great news because most studies indicate that these backup cameras decrease the likelihood that you will run into something (or someone) behind you.
However, the cameras can also come with their own unique set of problems. The most common problem is that the backup camera is used as the “end all” on whether there is something behind you. But, what does that mean?
AAA released the results of several tests last year that rearview cameras are, in fact, helping to save lives. Cameras allow drivers to see behind them better, including small objects (or children) who might be in their blind spots. The cameras may also come with sound warnings when there are objects or people nearby, and even alert you when passing cars are on their way toward you. All of these features can help you avoid an accident.
In AAA’s tests, they reported that rearview cameras increased visibility by roughly 46 percent, on average. They also found that visibility was increased approximately 36 percent in smaller sedans; while hatchbacks’ visibility increased a staggering 75 percent with the use of backup cameras.
There are many benefits to having a backup camera. However, these devices are not full-proof, and drivers still need to be aware of their surroundings.
1. One quick look is not enough. Objects behind you can, and sometimes do, move. This is especially true with small children. Keep your eyes on the camera and do not assume that because you checked once everything is okay.
2. The camera does not cover everything. Depending on what type of vehicle you drive, your camera may leave out quite a bit of territory behind you. Take a look over your shoulder to scan areas that your camera may not reach.
3. Adjust to your camera. Rearview cameras vary widely be vehicle, so be sure to take extra care if you are driving a vehicle that you are not familiar with. Your camera may cover more than your rental vehicle’s camera!
4. Be sure that your camera is clean and obstruction free. Dirt, snow, or frost can make your camera useless. Shadows or glare can inhibit your camera as well, so adjust accordingly. Be sure that it is unobstructed before you get in the car. It just takes a few quick seconds to check, but it can save a life.
5. Recognize that your camera still may not pick up objects or people that are very close. If there is an object directly under a tire or under your camera, you likely are not going to be able to see it in the camera. Make a quick walk around your vehicle to check for these types of hazards.
Backup cameras can be very helpful, as long as drivers realize that they are not the end-all, be-all of checking for obstructions behind you. Take care to check for hazards all around your vehicle before you get in and keep a close eye on your surroundings while you back up. Staying alert and cautious can keep you from harming a child or damaging your vehicle!
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